Collaboration – November 22nd, 2019
On Tuesday November 5th 2019 the Dutch Coalition for Humanitarian Innovation hosted its 4th Annual Event. This year’s theme was ‘The Future is Now’, with a focus on digitalisation and its current and future implications within the humanitarian sector. A total of around 70 participants across different sectors attended the annual event, which featured an insightful plenary, with a keynote speech as well as an interactive simulation. See our After-movie at the end of this article!
Can a coalition of strangers, like DCHI, work in practice? This was the question asked by team-lead Guido Jilderda to kick-off the day. The answer to this question, Guido argued, is yes, and most of us have in fact already been active practitioners of such a coalition as consumers on online platforms like eBay, AirBnB and Uber. The underlying reason for this is its highly collaborative nature. By working in a collaborative coalition of strangers we can activate unused “Frozen Capital” that would otherwise remain idle.
The floor was briefly handed over to Christine Pirenne, the Head of Humanitarian Aid at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She emphasised the importance of digitalisation as a theme, specifically in the potential impact of offering real-time information that could be used for the humanitarian sector.
Does “exponential change” still do justice to the rate of change of 21st century developments? Yuri van Geest, our keynote and the Dutch Ambassador of the Singularity University, would argue that this is in fact not the case, and that “the pace of change is too high to keep up and innovate by yourself”. Yuri addressed these wider innovation challenges with reference to the specific implications of accelerating technologies such as quantum computing and artificial intelligence. He challenged the audience to continue attacking their own successes, through practicing leadership by being vulnerable, by asking questions, and by admitting that you cannot achieve everything on your own: “we collaborate, we iterate, we adapt, and so the cycle continues”.
To kick-off the workshop on meaningful collaboration, Lars Stevens, Technical Project Manager of the 510 initiative of the Netherlands Red Cross, briefly touched on the importance of “Co-Designing” innovations to substantially improve end-user acceptance, through the fantastic example of the ‘121 Cash-Based Aid’ project. In a humanitarian context, stakeholders participating in co-designing innovations should include as many sectors as possible that could contribute to a consortium for an innovation. The 121 project demonstrated the extent of their collaborative approach, with members ranging from the tech-industry, to humanitarian partners, to academic partners, to donors.
The co-creation session consisted of a simulation through a collaboration role-play game. The simulation was not to develop relevant innovations, but rather to experience a structured process to develop ideas that might lead to successful innovations. The simulation confronted the separate coalition groups with a fictional scenario. Each separate member of the groups was then given a persona role, needs and resources, which they then had to represent. The idea behind it was to force yourself into the roles of others and empathise with their needs and interests, which is a vital element of both innovative as well as humanitarian cooperation.
While reflecting on the simulation, coalition members mentioned that “We gelled as a team and we don’t even know each other’s real names.” Other reflections included “This simulation demonstrates that it is actually possible to be innovative within one hour”, and that “it became increasingly apparent throughout the exercise that empathising with the end user is crucial while innovating”.
Following the simulation it was time to wrap up the DCHI Annual Event 2019. Coalition members were given the opportunity to follow up on the progress made throughout the day, and many attended other events at the ImpactFest The Hague.
Want to get a better idea of what the Annual Event looked like? Check out our full photo album here or watch our After-movie here:
Do you like the sound of our collaboration game and want to know more? Drop us a line, or keep an eye out for further updates as we continue to improve and refine our work approaches.