Interview with Allison Hornery and John Wells, X360

We’re excited to partner with X360 out of Australia this year, who are involved with an initiative that will give facilitators an opportunity to try out their newly-acquired virtual facilitation skills hands-on. Below a short interview with did with Allison Hornery and John Wells to talk about their work and latest project.

Tim Bonnemann: Hi, Allison, hi John. Thanks so much for taking the time. We’re very excited to have you as a partner at this year’s OFU20 event. First off, why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do with X360?

Allison Hornery: Thanks Tim! I took part in OFU 2019 so we’re excited to be partnering with your event this year. So, the idea behind X360 is that it’s a community of public purpose independents – it’s a kind of space for finding like-minded people, exploring emerging challenges, and collaborating on experimental and innovative projects to respond to some of these challenges.

John Wells: X360 has started out as an open space where we can work and experiment with all kinds of people. For us, in the current times it’s very much becoming our personal response. One thing we feel is that, in difficult times, the big institutions with the most influence do tend to reach back to the conventional big players for help, while all those independent practitioners with unique experience and insight can often make the most creative difference.

So we want to support or host projects that engage and inspire practitioners to feel they can “go the extra mile” – be part of co-creating something bigger, more connected – at a time when the world is going to need more of that kind of mindset.

Tim: How has this rather eventful year impacted your work? Are there any shifts you’ve noticed or trends you see emerging?

John: What seems to be showing up is a widening of the divide between those organizations or individuals who feel the need to hunker down to do more of the same, and then there are individuals or organizations with the culture and mindset for understanding that something genuinely new and different is called for… new ways of capturing and sharing insights through to new kinds of heightened collaboration in the common interest.

Allison: At the same time, one of the practical things that’s also emerged from many of our conversations is that people are starting to feel a lot more comfortable turning to online tools to connect with peers and to try new ways of talking, creating and solving. Us included! So bringing these two observations together is driving the current round of X360 experimental projects.

Tim: Tell me a little more about the “Connected Conversations World Relay” initiative. How did it come about? What’s the goal behind it?

John: It’s actually just one of the starting points for a shared exploratory program we’re calling “The New Public Dialogue”. The UN has been running a global conversation called #UN75 to give people everywhere a voice in the choices we need to be making collectively, and an interim draft has been presented to this year’s General Assembly in New York a week ago. So we felt that United Nations Day 2020 could be a great chance for “networking the networks” to help ensure this isn’t the end but the start of something collective. ‘Connected Conversations’ – or #connversations in short – is emerging as really a creative platform for public dialogue practitioners to use their experience and networks to hold a conversation about the really big issues while also highlighting the value of collective intelligence and impact. 

Allison: There are a couple of goals for the #Connversations Relay project. Firstly, we want to showcase the ways in which a new kind of “facilitation-at-scale” can bring important public conversations to life. This is also a great experiment to find out what happens when we connect a lot of smaller and more “groundview” conversations into one conversation that crosses borders and jurisdictions; what an astronaut colleague of ours calls the “orbital perspective”. Finally, we hope that together we can make a unique contribution to the #UN75 through a practical focus on “great – but actually where-to-from-here for all of us?”

Tim: How can the OFU community get involved?

Allison: Well, thanks to you Tim the OFU community is already halfway there! With your support, we’re bringing Connected Conversations into the unconference so that OFU-ers can join in on Saturday 24 October as part of their OFU participation.

As well as tuning in to the anchor sessions, it’d be great if some OFU-ers might turn on a 2-hour “#connversation café” session for the World Relay by just getting together a circle drawn from their local networks on Saturday 24 October. It’s a great opportunity to try out some of the skills and tools from OFU on a real project! And we’ll be around to help out.

John: It’s pretty simple really – just register and then to reach out to some of your colleagues, clients or networks and invite them to join you for an in-venue or online conversation about the future they want. It’s also a way to build some new relationships with diverse new clients or collaborators!

Allison: We have some great support resources for you to make this as easy as possible. Check out the 2-min video. You can try out one of the platforms from OFU’s sponsors, and we’ve collaborated with the folks at SessionLab to develop a World Relay conversation template, which you can find here:

Tim: Thanks very much. How can people get in touch with you if they have questions?

John: The best way to reach us is by email at – we’re also happy to chat by video or WhatsApp/text (details at

We’re really looking forward to connecting with people who take part!

Tim: Thank you both very much. Look forward to learning more over the coming week!

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