I have been invited by Elisabeth Unterfrauner to share my thoughts on establishing the core team in Lab 16 (the European Institute of Innovation and Technology) here at the virtual social lab.
Mathias Wullum Nielsen, Maria Lehmann Nielsen, and I are working together. – as the Aarhus University Social Lab management team – on Lab 16 and Lab 18. We had the first workshop of both labs in Budapest this April and are now in the process of engaging the participants in discussion about how to execute their pilot activities.
Lab 16 was a bit difficult, partly because it was our first workshop and we didn’t quite know what to expect, partly because some of the participants were skeptical; skeptical about having to implement pilot activities, about our project and what we expected of them, and about the concept of RRI. On day one of our workshop, we were worried that these negative voices would discourage the other participants from developing pilot activities. Luckily, this did not happen! At the end of day one, the participants generated ideas for pilot activities, and on day two they formed two groups around these ideas. Unfortunately, there was not enough time in the workshop programme to also elaborate on the ideas, to describe the process, distribute task, and talk practicalities, which means that no one was assigned the task as “pilot driver” or “core team”.
After we came back to Aarhus, we have picked up the organizational task of continuing the discussions about how to execute the pilot activities. We have offered the two groups an online workspace (on Slack) and invited them to a Skype-meeting to talk about whether the workshop sparked any reflections or conversations about RRI, how they are doing with their pilots, and what kind of inputs they would like for the second workshop. Not surprisingly, we have found that it is difficult to engage people in the discussions; they have busy jobs and are scattered all over Europe. We also know, however, that this project depends on the personal involvement and enthusiasm of individuals who are willing to drive a change. We try to foster this to the best of our abilities, and we are looking to strike a balance between pushing people a little bit to do something but not scaring them away. We ended up specifically asking four people from each group – the people which seemed to be most excited about the RRI concept – to take part in the Skype-meeting. So far we had one meeting and while it is evident that they have not spent much time on the pilot activities yet, it is also clear that there is some willingness to address these issues and this is the foundation we will build on in the second workshop.