Pre-Conference Workshop: Positive Participative Innovation

This article is part of a series of reflections on the Global Network Annual Conference. To view the previous article, click here.

My first contact with the STS community occurred on the first morning of the pre-conference Positive Participative Innovation (PPI) workshop. As a student of Human Systems Intervention at Concordia, I had studied various approaches to organizational structure and change, one of them being Socio-Technical Systems. However, my knowledge of the theory was just that — theoretical. I therefore arrived the morning of the pre-conference with many questions on how I would be able to contribute to the workshop’s end goal of designing prototypes for a global organization on workplace innovation.

The workshop design integrated principles of Appreciative Inquiry (AI), Open Systems Theory (OST), and Design Thinking (DT), and unfolded through a three-phase process of Inquiring, Imagining and Invigorating. One of the key features that effectively held these processes together in one workshop was the constant reforming of small groups.  By ‘doing the shuffle’ between each activity, the facilitators maximized interactions between participants, thus maintaining the high energy level of the group, enabling community building, and fostering creativity. The effect was so striking that even by the end of the first day ‘do the shuffle’ had become a buzzword for the nascent community!

On the morning of the first day, after a few shuffles, I found myself among yet another set of new faces to conduct AI interviews with a peer. The exercise impacted my entire experience for the day and the rest of the week, as in the course of the interview, I discovered that I did have something to contribute to this community that we were creating from scratch as a group of diverse practitioners seeking to connect and work with an even wider range of practitioners to create better workplaces that work better. Thanks to my AI partner Sam’s probing questions, I discovered that I had valuable experience in making organizations work across cultures. What’s even more interesting, I found that I could compare notes with Sam, who, as a Ph.D candidate from Belgium, had quite a few experiences working across cultures of his own under his belt.  I wasn’t alone!

From that moment on, I felt energized and confident in my ability to participate in the workshop and contribute to the organization we were in the process of creating, and as we cycled through the Imagine and Invigorate stages, that feeling grew. Thanks to the positive and participatory nature of the overall workshop process, I left the two-day workshop with the sense of having contributed to taking GLOWIN, the organization we were in the process of creating, one step ahead on the road to coming into being.

Dena Duijkers,

HSI 2014

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