What you need to know:
How to work with Synanim
During your session, the Synanim software system will ask you pre-determined questions, and you will type answers to those questions. You will also read the answers offered by others in a small group with whom you will be working.
Try to develop answers that express what is important to your group. As you read and write, see if you can:
- connect to what matters to you;
- assume that each member of your group is expressing important needs;
- use the best of what has been offered, regardless of who initially offered it;
- include what resonates as “alive” for you and for the others in your group;
- express the collective voice of the group.
Paying attention to time will help you participate effectively:
- The event will start at exactly the published start time. If you arrive late you probably will not be able to participate. Please log into the website and click on the project 5-20 minutes before the start time, and then be ready to participate when the start time arrives.
- There will be a fixed time available each time you answer a question. There will be a count-down timer displayed, showing you how much time you have left for that step.
- If you take more time to read and select an answer, you will have less time to write your own improvements to the answer. Often, there will be two parts to answering a question: First, you will read answers that you and others have written previously and choose the answer you think is best. Second, you will write, editing that answer to improve it. The time available for answering the question is the total time for reading, choosing, and answering.
- You must submit your answer within the time available if you want it to be considered. The system will not automatically submit your answer for you. If the timer runs out and you have not submitted your answer, your answer will not be recorded.
The time for when the session starts and how long you will have for each step will be fixed because your work needs to be coordinated with the work of other people who will be working at the same time.
Addressing concerns about time
This section is relevant if having a fixed time to answer triggers concerns in you.
Working within fixed time windows might understandably be challenging for many participants.
If the time allowed sometimes seems longer than you would like, you might use the time to self-connect, and interpret accepting the longer time as an act of caring for those who like more time to process.
If the time allowed seems shorter than you would like, you might consider that:
- Limiting the time for each answer allows for more frequent checking in with what others are thinking. (This decreases the emphasis on individual reflection and increases the emphasis on what emerges collectively from the group.)
- It might help to do whatever you can to prepare yourself in advance to do some hard work. (Reportedly, some people who have used Synanim say that it was difficult at the time, but the intensity helped them bond with others in their group, and they ultimately liked what they were able to accomplish together.)
- Feel free to take time to connect with yourself during the process, especially if you’re worried that you don’t have enough time! Time spent on self-connection will likely be time well spent.
- It is okay if what you write is rough, when there isn’t time for fancy words. Just notice what seems important, and say what you can.
- See if you can accept how much time is allowed, and be curious about what wants to happen in that amount of time.
- Later in the process, when it is more important to polish the answers, more time will be offered.
- Remember to breathe!
What will happen during the session
At the beginning of your session, the system will put you in a small group of 4 to 8 people. The system will choose arbitrarily who to put in your group. You will not know who is in your group, and you will not be able to interact with others directly. However, you will each read the answers that the members of your group have submitted. And you will be able to use what anyone has written in developing what you will submit next.
The flow of the process will look like this:
- The system will ask you a question. You will type an answer in the text box and then click “Submit” when you are done.
- When the timer reaches zero, you will be shown all the answers that were submitted by members of your group. You will be asked to pick one answer. You are encouraged to pick the answer that best expresses what seems to be important to your group as a whole—including yourself as part of that whole.
- The system will ask you the same question again. The answer you chose will be present in the text box. Edit that answer to improve it. Then click “Submit” when you are done.
You will cycle between steps 2 and 3 a number of times. For a given question, you will typically be given 3 or 4 chances to answer the question and improve the answers. Often, the members of the group will agree on what answers they pick, and many people in the group may be working on similar versions.
Then the system will ask you another question, and you will go through the above steps again for that question.
For all questions, it is important that you self-connect, read what each other has written, attempt to read “between the lines” to sense what the group as a whole would like to have be expressed, and then do your best to express that in your own edits.
Will answers converge?
If everyone is making an effort to integrate what others write, then it is likely that people may end up working on variations of one or two distinct answers to a given question. However, if this doesn’t happen at particular points in the process, that’s okay too. We anticipate that by the end of the multi-stage process we will experience a coming together around particular themes that are collectively important to the NVC community.
What will happen at the end of the session
When the final question has been answered, invitations will be issued to participate in another session.
- At the end of your first session, everyone will be invited to continue in a second session.
- At the end of the second session, only some people will be invited to continue to a third session.
When you are invited to participate in another session, the available time slots for the next session will be listed, and you will be asked to choose a particular time slot that you would like to sign up for.
You will have a limited time in which to choose another session to sign up for. If you do not sign up during that time, you will not have another opportunity to continue the on-line process.
If you are not invited to continue, or if you decline to sign up for another session, then at that point your direct participation in the on-line process will be complete. Your influence on the process will continue indirectly, in that (1) those who continue to the next stage of the process will carry with them what they learned from reading what you wrote, and (2) you will have influenced who is invited to continue.
Who will be invited to advance to the next stage?
As you work, the Synanim software computes a score for each person, and those with the highest scores in each group will be invited to advance from one stage to the next.
Conceptually, your score is intended to assess two things: To what extent do you articulate things that resonate with the group as a whole? And, to what extent are you able to notice and work with what the group as a whole seems to want to express?
Practically, you will receive a higher score (and be more likely to be invited to continue) if:
- other people choose the answers you submit; and
- you choose answers that are also chosen by other people.
These two factors will be weighted equally.
If you want to participate in later stages of the process, then write things that others in your group like, and choose answers that are representative of the group as a whole.
(An example of how the scoring works is presented in the final section of the document “Process for a New Future.”)
Before your session
Before the time of your scheduled session with Synanim:
- Make sure you have your login information including your password. To cause this information to be mailed to you again, go to together.cnvc.org and use the “Forgot your password?” feature. If you would like to test your login information, you can go to together.cnvc.org and try logging in.
- Decide which time slot you will sign up for when offered the opportunity to sign up for another session. Review the times for the next session (Stage 1 / Session 2) at cnvc.org/201406-synanim-schedule.
- Review the documents listed at cnvc.org/future/synanim-need-to-know, including this one. You may want to print them out.
What will happen when you log in
- Go to together.cnvc.org 5-20 minutes before your session is scheduled to start.
- Enter your email address and password.
- Click the link labeled “Project Open / Click Here to Enter”.
- A page will be displayed asking you to wait for the Synanim process to begin. We suggest you consider using the time while you wait to center yourself through self-connection or meditation.
- At the scheduled start time, the page will automatically change to a page asking you a question, and the process will begin.
We hope you will enjoy yourself! Have fun!