Ako group guidelines

Ness Radich from the Leadership for Change program at Otago University wrote these guidelines for "ako groups": a crew for peer-supported learning:

What is an ako group: A collection of people who have a juicy, edgy topic of interest which they wish to explore more in a safe, open space with no hierarchy, but welcomed curiosity.

Why create an ako group: This is a community, leaders are learners, and we want to support each other on this learning path, challenge ourselves and our ideas, and lift each other up in the process.

How to create an ako group: Here are some basic guidelines/ principles for creating a LfC ako group based on experience.

  1. Scope : Define the scope of your question / idea / topic. Think about what success in this group might look like.

  2. Diversity : Aim to have diversity in the group members or gather different opinions online - this encourages juicy discussions to emerge and learning too.

  3. Inclusion : decide at the start whether you can invite others to join the session or not (perhaps guest speakers or elders or just a new member) and the process you wish to follow in doing so if any

  4. Commitment : As much as possible show commitment to the group so everyone is accountable for each other. This supports group dynamics and the safe space. eg. let the group know 1 day in advance whether you can attend or not (for number purposes)

  5. Lead Facilitator : Assign a group member to facilitate each week: to guide the session, host the zoom room (if they can) and remind people of the topic (doesn’t need to be their topic / question that is being posted) e.g. send out an email /facebook reminder at the end of previous or start of following week.

  6. Communication: decide from the outset which means of communication work best for everybody (email, facebook messenger, facebook group…). Suggestion: having a google doc to note key insights/discussions from the meeting and write up the next topic and facilitator for people who couldn’t make it.

  7. Topic: Your group might want to suggest a topic or an article to read up on/research for the upcoming week to keep the juiciness rolling; also group members may wish to present/share some of their own work

  8. Review / Iteration : Allow it to be an iterative process and lock in a time when you will review the topic and if it is meeting the needs of the group. A general check-in with the group on how the experience has been for everyone to date helps shaping the path forward.

Additional Support: For good practice and group safety, assign a LfC staff facilitator as Kaitiakitanga for your group. They can play the role as: Guardian, mediation, and will check in every now and then to support the group and help identify any issues ideally before they occur.