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After the LL Design Conference – Part 4: Second thoughts on the Exploitation Launchpad workshops

March 22nd, 2015 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my three previous posts I have reported on the Year 3 Design Conference of the Learning Layers (LL) project that took place in Espoo and of the talks I had afterwards in Helsinki. In the third one I discussed knowledge sharing between the parallel pilots in the LL project and aimed to end this series with these issues. However, reading Gilbert Peffer’s seven blogs on the Exploitation Launchpad Workshop triggered some further thoughts on the workshops.

1. On the preparation of the workshops

Gilbert and Raymond did a very good job in preparing the workshop and Gilbert has topped up this with his excellent documentation of the preparatory work in his three first blogs. As we know, this workshop concept was developed just before the conference and implemented as ‘rapid prototyping’. Now,  the preparatory steps have been documented and reasoning behind allocation of participants to teams has been made explicit. This provides a basis to consider, how we can build upon this experience and what could possibly be done otherwise. ( I have already referred to my own workshop experiences in my first post of this series so I will not repeat my comments here.)

2. On the team processes in the workshops

The workshop concept tried to challenge the teams to enter a creative space and outline ambitious visions instead of stick to the immediately following next steps in the project work. From this point of view the participants were invited to give themselves roles (with reference to a given palette of roles). Then the teams were required to give ratings on the roles that they mostly need – and then ratings for their own strengths. This triggered a discussion on the potentials that are represented in the teams and how to compensate the gaps. This all was covered with the catchword “teamality” (the team-level ‘personality characteristics‘ of the initiative group).

As I could observe it, this part of the exercise worked well in the group that was focusing on the tools that had been piloted in the healthcare sector. These issues could be tackled right away. However, looking beyond this group I could see major difficulties in some other groups. For the “Learning Toolbox” group I would have raised the question, what exploitation tasks of the sustainability scenario should have been covered – consolidation of LTB Development Group as a technical service provider, consolidation of the Living Lab’ model for developing training services, consolidation of a Users’ Association’ as framework for user participation and institutionalisation of External Cooperation Policies’. As long as these tasks (and respective working perspectives) were not made explicit, the participants had probably different interpretations on the vision of their team. In a similar way I would have had questions, whether the “Centre of Expertise” team is covering the whole scope of LL activities or whether it is looking for specific sectoral or IT-related innovation concepts. Probably the aim of the workshop was to stimulate discussion such issues at the same time as it drew attention to the need to provide a basis for appropriate team-building processes.

3. On the approach to ‘customers’, partners and stakeholders

In the next phases of the workshop process the teams were challenged to explain, how they can satisfy their first customer and then work with a ‘customer journey map’ to develop a timeline for different iterations and to set milestones. Here again, the group that worked with the healthcare pilots had no major difficulties. However, being reflective about changing roles, the group introduced the concept ‘proto-customer’ to express the transition from project partner role to (potentially) paying customer role.

As I understood it, the focusing on ‘first customer’ and the interpretation of the roles of partners, customers and stakeholders were less problematic in other groups. I do not want to elaborate on this because these difficulties are closely linked to the problem that I raised above. However, in the long run the debates in the working groups – even if not completely resolved – may be helpful for clarifying the next steps in the follow-up process. As we remember, Gilbert and Raymond had planned the workshop as a process with follow-up. Here we probably need to have a closer look at the mutually linked process dynamics of our project (as such) and the exploitation actions (hatching out of the project). In the follow-up we need to pay attention to both sides of the show. I am looking forward to these next steps.

More blogs to come …

 

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