Today’s young scientists are under enormous pressure. Setting up new labs, teaching courses for the first time and conducting publication-worthy research all at the same time can take it’s toll. But, some young researchers are learning about — and putting into practice — collective leadership, which they hope will lead to a much-needed institutional makeover for science.
The team of mentors – there can between three to five at an Ideas Lab – usually represents a range of different academic perspectives that have some bearing on the question that’s central to the event. Their expertise is essential, but an equally important attribute for a mentor is to be ambitious about the science, intensely curious about the topic of the workshop, and adept at giving feedback, without being directive. This is the critical bit: they have to stay neutral and avoid getting tangled up in the ideas or too engaged in the participant groups.
Where you meet sets the mood for your meeting, which is why the space matters. Put people in the same old meeting room and the chances of getting the same old output are pretty good. If it’s a big open room with an inviting seating plan around round tables, with long walls of white paper ready to receive hundreds of ideas, it sets an entirely different tone. If you want to make room for innovation, you have to make the room the kind of place that will invite it.
So much depends on getting the right people in the room. A workshop designed to produce innovative outcome can fail – even with the perfect agenda design and the most astute facilitators – if the people who’ve been assembled don’t have the right spirit and motivation to help it succeed. But how do you get the right minds in the right place?
The alchemy that results in a successful workshop depends on starting with the right ingredients. We have found that one of the most important of these elements is the people who are invited to attend. Here’s are a few tips on recognizing the best — and less-than-ideal candidates for a creative team science workshop.