Little guide for great Book Sprint venues
When prospecting for a Book Sprint, organisers often ask us (and we answer in our FAQs) if we can recommend any ideal venues. Having facilitated more than 200 Book Sprints, we have come up with a list that we are happy to share. What is more important than the coordinates of the location, is that it meets a few important criteria. Our facilitator Faith sums it up here. And below we share more details and a few recommended venues.
Where to go?
By far our favourite locations are remote countryside locations, away from the daily bustle of the participants’ offices and institutions, with their everyday distractions and responsibilities. Even groups who do have their own in-house facilities sometimes choose to move their participants out of town. Spending five days together in the countryside, sharing meals and some relaxed hours in the evenings, creates an immersive bubble for the participants to dive deep into the development of ideas with their colleagues. In our experience, it has proven to work every time to foster consensus, collaboration and efficiency. Remote locations often prove to be a lot more economic than inner city hotels, so it might even justify the extra cost of travel. That being said, many companies and institutions have excellent facilities in-house, and we do sprint regularly in these spaces.
Room to collaborate – and to break out
During a Book Sprint, the participants will spend long days working together, sometimes in plenary sessions, sometimes in small groups, and sometimes individually. Bright rooms with good ventilation are very helpful to keep the group’s energy levels high. The main workspace has to include a table large enough to fit the whole group for group discussions. Close by should be smaller break out spaces with some acoustic separation, for groups of 3 or 4 participants to work together without disturbing others.
An equipped facility
We need a minimum of specific resources, such as whiteboards, loads of pens and even more sticky notes! Good wifi is a prerequisite so that the Book Sprinters can write and edit online on our collaborative authoring platform Editoria. Having access to a projector and a printer can be useful, too. Having some mobility and flexibility is great, movable whiteboards or flipcharts, for the content and ideas to be displayed and moved around, and for participants to work alone or in groups.
Universities and companies often have excellent spaces for productive collaboration. We’ve recently had a great experience sprinting in Technische Universität Berlin’s hybrid lab. It made us reflect on the spaces we have been sprinting in, on our needs and the needs of the participants. The importance and innovation of learning environments was the topic of TU Berlin’s Book Sprint. Quite fittingly, the space was equipped with all the resources you could wish for to draft, create and move ideas as the book content developed.
The small and large whiteboards, tables and chairs at TU Berlin’s Book Sprint were provided by Steelcase, a pioneer company for workspace furniture and space solutions. Our team and the participants made the best use of it, which resulted in high levels of productivity throughout the intense 5 days. One of the organisers, Bettina Liedtke, affirmed:
There are different phases in a Book Sprint and it felt very natural to move from one work setting to the next according to the needs of each book production phase. Having different kinds of work materials also helped, such as flexible and moveable whiteboards in different sizes. All in all, a flexible working environment is very supportive as all the energy can be used for the actual creation process. Single and group work spaces provided time to relax and concentrate as required.
Delicious healthy food
In order to maximise the time of the creative process and minimise the logistics, we recommend that food be brought to the workspace along with anything else needed to ensure the group is nourished, caffeinated and hydrated. This means ensuring any dietary restrictions are met, and that meals are nourishing and not too heavy. Snacks and drinks should be available at all times. If catering is not an option, the meals should be arranged somewhere at walking distance, preferably buffet style for a quick service and a calm meal.
Some fresh air
Stepping outside for air or a brisk post-lunch stroll helps to keep hard-working minds crisp. While not every Book Sprint can be in a beach in Hawai’i, the available outdoor space can be a consideration when choosing a venue.
Okay, yes. We can toss out a few options!
We leave it to our clients to choose the location for themselves based on these considerations. Nonetheless, as promised, here are some of our favourite locations, which may give you an idea for what to look out for:
That’s the hometown of our operations team! We can recommend a few locations within two hours from the city, like Schloss Neuhausen.
About an hour from Milan, we recommend Centro d’Ompio.
Less than an hour from London, we recommend the historic Ridge Farm.
Several recommendations nearby Washington, DC, like Caboose Farm and Kent Manor in Maryland.
Moondyne Convention Centre surrounded by a national park and an hour’s drive from Perth.
We are happy to share more ideas as we brainstorm how to create the perfect environment together. Let’s discuss!