How to transform strangers into cooperative partners in 20 minutes



Tekst by Jeltsje Boersma, Host2Transform practitioner, Social entrepreneur at Aimforthemoon //

Blogger at &


Photo of 3rd cohort Host2Transform practitioners

that provide Host2Transform sessions at Seats2Meet Netherlands.

On this picture you see a group of my friends. We know that we can count on each other and we feel a big level of trust. We know each others passions and talents and surely know how to have fun. We do not fear to ask each other when we are in need of something.  Nothing special you would say. Except…that we only met each other two hours before this picture was taken.

Jessica Tangelder, entrepreneur and trainer at Knowledge Activator, brought us together during a training called Host2Transform. It is a training where we are thought how to change a group of strangers into a group that easily cooperates and communicates. But before teaching us how, we evidently had to experience it ourselves.

The tools and exercises for this training are designed for (shared) work spaces but can easily be applied in other environments where people are not (yet) feeling comfortable nor connected with each other. Although work spaces like Seats2Meet are build to facilitate spontaneous business networking, in real life people feel hesitated to connect with their neighbour when they hide behind their laptop. A ”free flow’ of knowledge, creativity and serendipity (coincident meetings with valuable outcomes) will not take place when people just sit and work together in one room. It needs some playfulness, trust and openness before it appears. Jessica trains us how to do it with a toolkit that needs enables ‘serendipity to occur more frequently’. In only 15 to 20 minutes our group transformed from strangers into partners for cooperation and even into valuable friendships.

‘It is no rocket-science’ Jessica explains, ‘the majority can implement them’. Most of her tools and practices that have a base in improvisation theater where people become more ‘present’ and ‘open’. This is actually what companies like Google and Pixar are using to stimulate trust, letting go of the need to know the outcome and judging too quickly. The exercises stimulate creativity, positive thinking and cooperation. In other words it is not about being all cute, cosy using our ‘soft’ skills, these are actually very powerful skills that can directly influence the development of your business and that of others.

Although Jessica is using some theory to emphasise the base of her trainings, most important elements are the exercises. In one of these exercises we had to form, in a limited amount of time, subgroups based on shared interests and passion. The goal is to find as many commonalities as possible. Groups fall apart, some new ones appear, but no one should be left out. A great exercise to find out quickly with whom you have similar interests.

All exercises require some physical movement so that it boost your energy after some working hours behind your laptop. The elements improvisation theater makes you act spontaneously rather than to overthink your reaction. I had to laugh at myself as I had to leave the fog of self criticism and discovered that ‘doing rather than thinking’ was the only way to succeed.

Acting out of spontaneity- it seems that we have forgotten the power of it. In environments of ego’s, low trust and high pressure we often become overly (self-) critical. It spills over to other  team members and easily dominates the business culture.  With playful exercises we can break down the voice of doubt and hesitation, and create a safe and fun environment to experiment in.

The host2transform exercises are ‘no rocket science’ but are nevertheless, hard to explain. It is all about experiencing it yourself!

Fortunately we are welphoto 1l able to describe its impact, a question raised by Jessica at the end of the H2T session. We created an almost never ending list of elements where we could determine to be impactful. As you see on the left.

Host2Transform has an impact on the: individual, team and organisational/community/society (macro) level. This flip-over demonstrates the impact on these 3 levels added by the H2T practitioners.

The philosophy of host2transform is: think big, start small. The word ‘transform’ is reflecting its ambition. We thought big after the training. What would happen when every company in the world spend 20 minutes providing these exercises? What would happen when all employees and groups, no matter how high or low in hierarchy, could create such easiness and cooperation with each other? Let’s get started!

JOIN the next #Host2transform training >>>