Fishbowl Experiment

In 2016, PSK Performance hosted its first ever interactive Fishbowl Experiment in Sydney and Melbourne. The events brought together professionals from Recruitment, Talent, HR, Learning and Development and Change agents in this modernised Fishbowl format.

The purpose; to discuss, collaborate, share knowledge, contribute experiences and opinions across a wide range of topics within industry.

If you have yet to discover or come across a Fishbowl discussion this short video is an insightful introduction to the format.

The elements that make the Fishbowl format different, as opposed to a traditional panel, is the flexibility and interactive approach where conversations are focused on engaging in two way open dialogue between the panellists and questions raised from members of the audience seated inside the Fishbowl.

As the host and an observer, it was pleasantly surprising at how easily the audience adapted to this format and joined the Fishbowl by engaging in conversations with the panellists. What was even more unexpected was how open and unguarded the panellists responded and felt comfortable to share their views and experiences with the audience.

Some of the diverse topics the audience raised included;

  • where to begin implementing 70:20:10 framework,
  • effective ways to introduce a mentoring programme,
  • acknowledging the power of learning and that change of behaviour can occur upon reflection,
  • what capabilities matter for the learning and development professional in the future’ and many other challenges faced in industry today.

One of the panellists Simon Terry wrote in his blog, ‘Put conversation first’.  There is nothing more powerful than real conversation where both the panellists and audience engage in collaborative, meaningful and diverse discussions and together everyone is naturally engaged and learning.

Was the experiment a success?

As far as one could measure from social media (#PSKevents) and survey feedback, yes. The Fishbowl format has certainly demonstrated that by bringing professionals together where sharing is learning, new concepts and ideas can be introduced in an interactive setting that widens our horizons and encourages participation by collaborating with each other.

As one participant described the Fishbowl format; “expertise can come from anywhere on the floor and the audience interaction element helped to give the panel session a conversational feel. It felt like the speakers were chatting with one another (and us in the audience), rather than presenting”.