Workshop Participant

Chances are, if you’re a scientist, you’re not thrilled about the idea of attending a workshop with facilitators. You’re wary of the over-cheerful directions from the front of the room, worried that you’ll be asked to do something embarrassing, or just concerned that the facilitators get in the way of the scientific thinking you’ve come to do.

At KI we try to keep our facilitation understated, and to do just enough to give you a different experience – doing things differently leads to a different and often novel result – but not enough to get in your way. We will choreograph the seating plan a bit, and give you a good reason to talk with people you wouldn’t normally talk to. We’ll also interrupt your conversations before you get too attached to your ideas, to make sure you’re exploring the field of options and stretching your thinking. Our role is to take care of the process of the workshop so you can spend all your time thinking about the science.

If you want to know more about how things go at a KI workshop, read on:


Know Further:


Surviving Human Contact

Surviving Human Contact

It’s not that we don’t have a design for the workshop. Nor is it that we’re keen to keep our participants in the dark. Our experience is that no published agenda survives human contact. So as soon as there are people introduced to the process, things change, slow down, speed up, go a different direction. Our workshops need to be flexible so that we can react to the decisions participants make along the way. Our job is to facilitate what is happening, not necessarily to facilitate what will happen.

Workshops and Introverts

Workshops and Introverts

A Sandpit or an Ideas Lab collects academics from a range of disciplines and mix them around, working in groups to solve a problem or develop ideas for research. It smacks of just what an extravert will love: conversations with strangers, moving chairs a lot, making presentations in front of a group. But just the idea of being in a meeting room with 25 other people for five days can be enough to discourage an introvert from applying to attend, let alone the idea of having to interact with a large group all week.

Portable Recording Devices

Portable Recording Devices

We often refer to Post-it notes as portable recording devices, just to put in perspective why we stick to using them. It’s one of the easiest, fastest ways to get a group of people to put their thoughts together and then sort them out, collectively. Quickly, a group can organize a wall of hundreds of Post-it notes, revealing major themes but keeping the granularity intact within the resulting categories.

Tolerating Ambiguity

Tolerating Ambiguity

It‘s usually in a moment of feeling blocked or stalled that there’s a fierce temptation to seize the nearest reasonable solution. This is when we need a tolerance for ambiguity. It means staying in uncertainty, or staying with the question, despite the discomfort of not knowing the answer, or not knowing where we’re headed. It requires relinquishing control – even though a solution isn’t always guaranteed – to make room for new and emerging connections to crystalize into a clear direction.

Just Say Yes

Just Say Yes

In our methodology, we call it deferring judgment, the capacity to set your opinions aside, temporarily, and accept a new or odd idea, or an unformed nugget of a something, and take the time to develop it before dismissing it. This is the cornerstone of divergent thinking. And it happens to be the first rule of improv: Say Yes.

Listen Up

Listen Up

Throughout or formal and informal education, from pre-school to postdoc, we’re taught how to read, how to write, how to speak. But we don’t get any instruction about how to listen. Even though it’s how we take in information and get clues about what’s happening around us, even though listening is essential to problem solving and to collaborating with others, we don’t learn how to listen.

The Productive Dissident

The Productive Dissident

It takes a lot of energy to have an opinion, and in certain phases of an innovative process – or even just a discussion – strong opinions can also shut people down and thwart the process, killing wilder options too soon or without proper development. There’s good reason to ask for a more positive kind of evaluation. But it is possible to err on the side of too positive, too blue-sky, too willing to set feasibility aside in service to the goal of achieving wild ideas.

When Toys are Handy

When Toys are Handy

The playful gizmos and gadgets we bring along help make the conference room look less sterile and corporate, but the toys are not just for show. If you’re a tactile person, being able to pick up a squeezy rubber ball, or twist the beads of a wooden wand, fumble with a Rubik’s cube or stack tiny colored magnets into small mountains can actually aide the fluidity of your thinking. While your hands are fidgeting, new things can pop into your mind.