Over the fence – discover new perspectives to co-create

When was the last time you looked over the fence? After 15 years of designing and managing projects in the field of organisational development, I did. Actually, I even jumped over the fence and found myself in the field of business innovation.

Over the Fence

While supporting a client to develop a new business from scratch, I realized that my wealth of experience from project management was not going to help me there. This led me to start a learning journey, and I discovered a big, colourful world.

Learning from and working with practitioners in fields like service innovation, leadership, facilitation, agile management and many more, was deeply inspiring. From there, the intention emerged to harvest powerful approaches across fields of expertise and connect professional perspectives to create thriving solutions. We started to experiment with collaboration labs, linking people with diverse backgrounds to work on challenges together.

Finally, we went back to our roots and realized a fascinating pattern in projects: for mastering a definite and complex challenge, a diverse group of people needs to go on a journey to create results together. What if we would bring innovative ways of connecting perspectives into projects?

“Over the fence” is our intention and practice to connect diverse perspectives for thriving solutions.

Each Project is a JourneyEach substantial project is a collaborative endeavour, which involves people from diverse backgrounds and fields of expertise. These people have different professional perspectives and speak different “languages”. Thus, the starting point of each successful project is a mutual understanding about the purpose, the subject, and how to proceed.

The picture shows our visualization of a project as a journey (you can read the full story in our book). The metaphor of a journey invites people to create a simple and inclusive language when talking about their project.


This is what we wanted a project canvas for – as an invitation to talk in order to create a shared understanding of a project. The “over the fence” project canvas takes into account the main building blocks of project management and gives space for creative group facilitation. It’s free of charge, open source, and usable for all sorts of projects (as far as we know of) and most valuable for projects in complex settings.

At the IAF MENA Conference in Copenhagen (Oct 3-5, 2014) we played seriously to explore: 

* Challenges of project owners to mobilize diverse teams
* Key characteristics of agile and traditional project management
* Models and techniques to increase creativity and effectiveness in projects

Facilitation Reloaded - IAF Copenhagen





“Over the fence” is co-initiated by Frank Habermann (business professor) and Karen Schmidt (facilitator) after many years of designing, managing, and having fun in projects. Our own “over the fence” journey is to collaboratively work with facilitators as well as with project owners and teams to explore even more meaningful practices and tools for thriving projects.

— by Karen Schmidt

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