In the back of our minds was this question: how might our Sandpit (aka Ideas Lab) methodology work for a development problem? Instead of different scientific disciplines, could you invite a diverse line-up of stakeholders, aide organizations, NGOs, local partners and businesses and people – why not include the people for whom the solution is meant to impact – to use our process to get to uniquely novel ideas?
Posts by amandax
Funding agencies issuing large grants are favoring bidders who can demonstrate their ability to work as a team. Except scientists aren’t really trained to work in teams. If anything, scientific training is becoming hyper-specialized. It’s not that individual scientists can’t solve important challenges, but they may not recognize how their skillset could address other challenges outside of their own domains.
This raised our attention to the fact of how much we rely on language to convey meaning, and that if we don’t have a shared understanding, it’s harder to work together and collaborate creatively. Even the creative collaboration has its own language. Just as the scientists arrive with their own lexicon, so do we facilitators. We’ve learned, over time, that the syntax of our métier has been crafted to aide innovation. By using our language deliberately, we can be induce more creative responses.
A 5-day event, like an Ideas Lab or Sandpit, pushes people to their creative and collaborative limits. The experience can be profound and inspiring: identifying new challenges, discovering and developing with breakthrough ideas, meeting and working intensely with academics from other disciplines. But it’s not always easy. An intense workshop like this also has its challenges. It may require navigating a few tricky moments.
Whether as the mentor or the person being mentored, we’ve all experienced occasions when for whatever reason – timing, chemistry, opportunity – good counsel made a big difference. We also remember the not-so-good mentoring, when we were disappointed by an advisor or by the inability of someone to accept our help, no matter how hard we tried. We’ve known good and bad mentors and because of those experiences we begin to understand what does and doesn’t work.