If you’ve never heard of Troika before, or maybe know the name, but not the definition, think of it as an enhanced group activity; a way to collaborate and deal with challenges in a meaningful and honest way. Developed by Keith McCandless and Henri Lipmanowicz as part of their Liberating Structures techniques and used in multiple industries, the idea of Troika lies in peer support participation.
And in the case of magazine publishing, it can be a highly effective way to break down creative barriers, as participants are invited to present their business problem and then get immediate, inspiring feedback and solutions.
‘Magazine publishers often get so caught up in the day-to-day of their business that taking a step back can be impossible,’ Nikki Simpson, Director of the International Magazine Centre, explains. ‘Troika’s give you the time, space and the mental energy to look at your longer-term goals and strategy.’
So how does it work? To start, participants are broken up into groups of four. Each group includes three publishers and one magazine publishing expert who acts as facilitator. The first round begins with one Troika member being the ‘client’, presenting a problem to the other two delegates and the facilitator. As the ‘consultants’, they then generate ideas, suggestions, advice and ways of doing things differently, before everyone switches roles and repeats the steps for the next person.
‘I love the way you can switch off the noise of your own thoughts to really listen to the insight from your peers.’ Nikki says. ‘This is hugely effective because you can see your problem without your own biases and preconceptions. It’s also a really unique networking situation – in that all parties are instantly in a position of trust.’
It’s a fast-paced process and one that yields immediate results, while also training us all to be open to asking for and receiving help. Having already hosted a successful Troika workshop in June, the International Magazine Centre will be running another event on 9 September, to assist another group of magazine publishers, from all over the world, with their unique business problems.
‘Feedback from all levels has been excellent,’ Nikki says of the last event. ‘People benefiting have come from all areas of publishing – from major publishers to SMEs, from freelancers to consultants.’
As one publisher noted after the June event, ‘The discipline of listening to other people frankly discussing your business problems without being able to interrupt to clarify or justify was really powerful – allowing me to absorb and reflect, without feeling attacked. Then you have a turn to hear and discuss other people’s problems, which allows you to assume a completely different perspective, shifting your view of your own business.’
The International Magazine Centre’s next Troika on 9 September will include a range of knowledgeable and experienced magazine experts as facilitators, including Alan Rutter, Alison Warner, Andy Cowles, Audra Martin, Diane Kenwood, Esther Kezia Thorpe, Mary Hogarth and Peter Houston, with more to be announced. So, with one successful event already in the bag, what does Nikki hope that participants will take away from this second round of Troika Consulting? She summarises it neatly: ‘Clarity on their business issues, ideas to help drive them forward and strong connections with other publishers and experts.’
Troika Consulting: Present your magazine publishing problems to the experts, Wednesday 9 September, 3pm–4.30pm BST. Tickets are available from Eventbrite and cost £20.