Hold-up makesense: collective intelligence, advice to organizers and recent developments

6 min readFeb 10, 2020


The magic of makesense is to bring together people who do not know each other, who are different and help them to work together.

What if you could help an entrepreneur solve a challenge? What if you could be the facilitator who connects citizens and social entrepreneurs?

We invite you to become a facilitator of a collective intelligence workshop also called “hold-up”, which brings together a dozen participants and an initiative with positive impact.

The hold-up has gone through many evolutions. At the very beginning there were no post-its (yes yes that’s true)! Successive improvements have come from members of the makesense community, who have run hold-ups and are constantly looking for ways to increase the impact of the workshop with social entrepreneurs and participants.

In August 2019, Aurélia Trombini, trainer and facilitator in collective intelligence, took up the challenge of proposing a new methodology for the famous hold-up. She tells us about this adventure!

Aurelia Trombini

In 2019, why new developments for the hold-up?

Very quickly in my adventure at makesense I was frustrated by the quality of the resolution of the hold-up challenge, because the format was very generic.

So I had the opportunity, as a volunteer and then an employee, to lead several working groups on the methodology: for example, on a first icebreaker database, on facilitation tips or even a list of standard brainstorming questions.

And then during the summer of 2019, the opportunity to create new versions of the hold-ups through a mission arrived! So I immediately accepted the offer, because it was an opportunity to close the loop by sharing my understanding of the issues of the format, to imagine a more relevant format in terms of solving the challenges of entrepreneurs.

Do you remember your first hold-up ?

I first participated in a hold-up before I organized one. My first experience was for an entrepreneur who wanted to make tours of Paris guided by homeless people, the project had a communication challenge.

This holdup was the first organized by Caroline and Marine, who would soon become the co-founders of senseschool.

I remember we were a lot of people in a small room, I really liked the atmosphere and the meeting with the entrepreneur. And at the same time I had some doubts and frustrations regarding the methodology and the solutions.

One of my first hold-ups as a facilitator was in September 2014 with Léa for the Cosi network. It is an intergenerational solidarity cohabitation platform which consists in connecting a young person looking for accommodation with a senior who has a spare room.

I remember this workshop for the learning experience about the importance of properly briefing the entrepreneur beforehand and keep the timing during the workshop. In fact, during the presentation of the challenge, the entrepreneur spoke at great length, getting lost a little in details or personal stories. This had an impact on the pace, the atmosphere and the course of the hold-up. In the end, the experience was very positive for the participants and also enriching for us!

My various hold-up experiences, all allowed me to progress quickly and consolidate my expertise, because I was faced with situations that I had not necessarily anticipated.

What is the essence of a hold-up and the evolutions?

One of the major elements of the format is openness and accessibility. There is also of course social and environnemental impact at the heart of the hold-up.

In one sentence, a hold-up is a workshop that bring together the collective intelligence of participants from all horizons to help a project with social impact.

The hold-up format has not changed in substance, because we have kept the essence of the format. It reflects a lot of the values ​​: daring, gaining self-confidence, fun, caring, friendliness and taking action. This allowed us to change the technique but not the substance and the spirit.

The evolution in 2019 consists of having created new versions of the methodologies for each type of challenge. This means that there are courses and exercises for each challenge! The solutions of the hold-ups are better and the facilitation is more easy.

Today there are 4 types of hold-ups :

  • Naming: find a name for your project
  • Community basis: define a community bases such as vision, members and scope
  • Community building: structuring a community through activities and roles
  • Feedback: receive constructive feedback and ideas

Subsequently, we imagine developing other kits on other types of challenges!!

Why would you want to become a hold-up facilitator ?

Each volunteer can find their own interest:

  • The desire to consolidate and discover knowledge about collective intelligence and facilitation
  • Connect and expand your network with diverse people such as entrepreneurs, participants or volunteers who have similar interests and values
  • Develop various skills such as project management, oral expression, pedagogy, collaboration, community management…

Understand how to become a hold-up facilitator in 8 min →


What would be your 3 tips to a person who is embarking on the organization of a hold-up ?

  • Tip # 1: It is important to prepare well in order to have self-confidence and feel comfortable in the different situations on day of facilitation.
  • Tip # 2: Before the workshop, try to think about “why do I personally organize the workshop?” This will allow you to remember the objective you have (learn to lead, meet an entrepreneur etc.) This will allow you to stay on course and keep your balance.
  • Tip # 3: Do not hesitate to surround yourself with others and ask for help before the workshop! It is essential to know that there is a community around you and that you are never alone in the organization and facilitation of the hold-up.
hold-up organized by Mathilde and Robin
Hold-up organized by Robin et Mathilde

What impact on entrepreneurs?

The reaction of entrepreneurs after a hold-up is often the same: they find it incredible to have 10 motivated people to help them! They really feel like they are supported by a community.

It is not always easy to follow the implementation of solutions. But we know there are many projects that have found their name in naming hold-ups, like Allô Louis, Improve, Terre Lieu, and others that have strengthened their communities, or received feedback at essential moments such as L’amiterre.

Understand why you should ask for a hold-up as an entrepreneur in 8 min ->


What is your dream for hold-ups in the years to come?

I tell myself that the hold-up has every chance of becoming the “Ikea of ​​collective intelligence”! I imagine an enlarged format, with lots of bricks, where everyone can create their hold-up easily for all types of challenges.

It would allow as many challenges as possible to be resolved thanks to hold-ups, using modular and adapted methodologies!

We will also be able to have “hold-ups” trainers in each hotspot, who will be able to train future gangsters, using hyper-qualitative supports, well illustrated, with facilitation exercises, etc.

And then my last dream is that each volunteer can use the different skills developed in the organization of a hold-up in different situations !

Do you want to organize a hold-up?

  • Free and open to everyone! You’re going to go through all these stages

Do you want to discover the new resources available?

If you have facilitated hold-ups in the past but want to discover the new tools

Resources to organize your own makesense event : https://community.makesense.org/resources/#1560505490576-32648791-ca9c

Do you want to benefit from a hold-up for your project?

You can ask for a hold-up within your local makesense community.

See you soon for more collective intelligence!




makesense est une communauté internationale de citoyens, d’entrepreneurs et d’organisations qui résolvent ensemble les défis sociaux et environnementaux