Pre-Conference Workshop: Positive Participative Innovation

This article is part of a series of reflections on the 2014 Meeting of the Global STS Network. To view the previous article, click here.

Positive Participative Innovation (PPI) was an opportunity to review some key concepts of Socio-technical Systems Design, Appreciative Inquiry, and Design Thinking. One of the first questions was: “What hopes/aspirations and/or capacities do you bring to this workshop?” Based on the fact that  “The future is created with what we have,” this serves as a reminder for all groups that we can already find richness and variety in our competencies and backgrounds. It also reminds us that people in the system are their own experts in finding solutions.

The innovation challenge starts with a process to Inquire through conversation by asking ourselves novel questions — remember, asking questions is an intervention. Systems begin to move in the direction of the questions we ask — about a Transformational Inquiry topic: How have we…

This prompts a reflection on the importance of asking powerful questions:

-What we ask determines what we find;

-What we find determines how we talk;

-How we talk determines how we imagine together;

-How we imagine determines what we achieve together.

The next step, Imagine, requires that we put the result of our conversation (How might we… ) into images, and that we take the conversation to a deeper level. We transition from Metaphor to Models, using sketches, diagrams, or any other means to dream our future.

During the 3rd step, Invigorate, we ask ourselves how we can test, mobilize and scale our proposal (How will we…), we plan the way to engage new participants and make sure that our innovation is viable, feasible, repeatable and scalable. We detect where is the energy that will make our project a success and how will we ignite this energy.

I liked this process as it is fueled by passion and bold ideas. It echoes ideas about continuous improvement that were explored during Sylvie’s Pecha Kucha presentation, where we were reminded that the light bulb wasn’t invented by improving candles.

Other ideas I heard during the PPI workshop include:

-We live in an emergent world, rather than a predictable one.

-In the process of creation we change ourselves.

-Behavior emerges from the environment —K. Lewin.

Marcela Urteaga,

HSI 2012

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