Panda Pounce

The Golden Pandas — Part 2

As Kate mentioned in Introducing the Golden Pandas, our Panda Pounce in January was the first time we were all physically together as a Golden Panda Posse.

We’d had to work hard to create a rhythm and cadence for virtual meetings and checkins that worked for everyone in the build up to our physical time, and we became super proficient in Zoom and Slack (we #checkin and #checkout daily). But, despite our proficiency at remote working, we needed time to breathe together, to sync our live selves, recognising that the in the moment and residual benefits from committing this time was essential.

We had almost five full days together, in a beautiful part of Auckland called Titirangi, in the Waitakere ranges; replete with flora and fauna, dense and wild, but with all the comforts of a wonderful home lent to us by friends.

Following a spacious check-in, we gently eased into an agenda building process that included space for strategic and tactical conversations, specific product planning, and work sessions. We loosely organised each day to include each of these elements, respecting that each of us had a few general commitments that we needed to honour during the week.

Each session was facilitated by the panda whose energy was drawn towards the topic, and another panda scribed where necessary.

We also experimented with different techniques and ideas that inform our outward-facing facilitation practice, for example, product poker and Joshua’s great process for life-planning. And very importantly, we had wonderful meals….

Although bamboo is the most favourite food of Pandas (luckily we are all ‘mostly’ vegetarian), we do enjoy experimenting, and lucky for us, Kate is a joyful cook. Enspiral retreating is punctuated by wonderful food, prepared with so much love that it changes the energetic quality (I think so anyway!) and nourishes our work, energy, and ability to sustain a good pace. Turns out Pandas love berries, and high summer in New Zealand means a proliferation of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries — a highlight of our time together was a mid-afternoon snack of berries with coconut yogurt and a few crunchy nuts on top.

In preparation for pouncing (and all year long) Pandas like to keep fit, and enjoy exercise, so it’s important that we build some time in for a run or a hike or some press ups. We organise some of our spacious conversations as walking sessions. We also try to build in alone time each day, which is necessary when we are densely packed.

Technology is our friend, and design thinking is a big part of the panda process. We love Realtime Board, and we love post-it notes. We’ve shared screen shots of some of our creations, but I could imagine much mirth if anyone had been looking through the window as the Pandas sat in our circle, laptops open, moving virtual post it notes around the virtual board! It might have looked funny, but it was super effective — and without a facilitator standing and directing action at the whiteboard, it meant all of us were participating fully.

Morning check-ins and evening check-outs are as important to us; and as natural as brushing our teeth. At the January pounce I requested consent for an identity of Panda Provocateur — an experiment in more regular reflexive noticings as we went (thanks François for the tip!), a couple of times a day after a big block of work. I found these really useful as a way to track energy and more instinctive feedback.

Our retrospective at the end of the week provided lots to celebrate and lots to consider. We will have two week long Pounces per year, and 2 mini-pounces, our next one is scheduled for 11–14 March.

We hope you are enjoying Golden Panda time — please share with anyone who might be interested in learning with us as we go! Until next week...may your tummies be rubbed and your bamboo be plentiful.