Speed dating strategies
The original speed dating was introduced as a way of promoting a safe and quick way of meeting a broad variety of date candidates.
At the 2003 meeting, OFMA replaced the panel with "Speed Mentoring." The entire group divided itself into two categories--experienced managers and inexperienced managers.A more classic version of speed dating was used during the Farmer-Chef Connection, an educational event that seeks to foster better relationships between chefs and individual farmers.The traditional format for this program was a mix of speeches, panels, and workshops, along with long breaks that featured outstanding food provided by the farmers and prepared by the chefs.Any set-up where men are forced to sit meekly at desks while overly-entitled, overly carb-fed women clump up and down expecting to be entertained and making their dead-eyed acolytes jump accordingly doesn’t sound like my kind of deal.However, last week I went to my first ever speed-dating event for a magazine article I was writing and I was surprised to find that – despite many drawbacks – it wasn’t all bad.A speed mentoring approach was successful in sharing knowledge among farmers' market managers with different levels of experience.
Farmers and chefs used a more classic speed dating approach to forge new relationships and make deals.
(Some juggling had to be done to make the two groups of equal size.) Worksheets were passed out to serve as discussion starters.
The inexperienced managers listed market management issues/problems they wanted to discuss.
All participants easily accomplished these three goals, and many actively engaged in deal making.
After 10 minutes, we rang a bell and gave the instruction, "Shake hands and move on." After three rounds, we called a halt.
As an antidote, Robert Chambers, in his superb book Participatory Workshops, proposes the "buzz": "So easy. Invite participants to buzz with others next to them--about what has just been covered or done, an issue that has arisen, the agenda.