Trust in the wisdom of the group

October 17th, 23

“We are all the KIN.” That was a quote from one of the participants in the first Crutzen workshop of the KIN (Klimaatonderzoek Initiatief Nederland). It sums up the atmosphere and energy well after three days of thinking together about the outlines for a work program with the theme ‘Climate transition in urban areas through the lens of climate justice’.

Representatives of (decentralized) governments, civil society organizations and businesses, and researchers joined forces – not in competition but together – to come up with first ideas on a work program that can accelerate systemic transitions in urban areas in a just way. The methodology used for the workshop was Open Space Technology, aimed at solving complex issues in large groups, where participants themselves set the agenda and hierarchy plays no role. That way, you rely on the group’s wisdom because you can use the insights of all the individuals involved.

Positive impact

There were only names on the name cards and no job titles or organizations. ‘That worked out nicely,’ one of the participants commented. You start talking to a person rather than someone with a certain role within a specific organization.’ The atmosphere was markedly different from other meetings. There was room for everyone’s input. Sometimes, it seemed as if nothing was left to say, but new information bubbled up during built-in moments of silence. Three days of thinking together about such an important topic creates a bond. The emphasis for everyone was on the positive impact that could be made with the steps taken here. This was reflected in the very diverse action plans that the various spontaneously formed groups put on paper.

Trust the process

In the afternoon of day three, when the positive atmosphere momentarily faded, because of the challenge put forward on how to coordinate the process for the grant application, someone in the room stood up and said, “I always like to think of the children who are yet to be born to get beyond one’s own individual perspective.” More voices followed from people who want to make an impact and do it together. Then, someone in the group offered to organize a follow-up meeting soon, with support by the KIN, to process the fifteen emerging plans into a coherent application for a work program and to form a consortium. Others can still join this consortium in the course of the process, if they can add value to the theme.

There was also wide support for a neutral facilitator, offered by the KIN, to ensure the followup process will remain transparant and open. The KIN team is now working on implementing this. ‘Trust the process’ is an essential condition for Open Space Technology. And that is exactly what happened in Egmond aan Zee.