Team composition and introductions
Co-creation in contracting for bridges: that does not happen often. The municipality of Almere and the province of Flevoland did it. They launched an open innovative challenge for the Floriade Expo 2022 on 2 April 2019. Three mixed teams of contractors and experts worked separately on the designs for two innovative, circular bridges for the Floriade2022 terrain. Under the guidance of innovation strategists Noorderwind and Zeewaardig Service Design, the teams will take on this challenge.
The goal: choosing two winning designs that will actually be constructed for the Floriade 2022 and learning the lessons. How does such a process work? What is working well and what less well? We share our experiences in a series of posts about the project so governments, contractors and interested parties can learn from our practice. The kick-off took place on Tuesday, 2 April 2019, with a round of introductions and the formation of the 3 teams.
The day started with a workshop given by Joost Fluitsma with tips & tricks for visual thinking: to communicate more effectively, it helps to work with drawings in the creative processes. “Drawing helps,” said one participant, and Joost showed that everyone can draw.
Insight & Inspiration
After the drawing session, the three teams spread out into three different rooms where they started on the design process under the leadership of the facilitators. The first step is looking for inspiration based on the insight cards from the Green Bridges Hackathon. The insight cards are distributed over eight themes and serve as inspiration for the development of circular sustainable bridges:
- Life Cycle Analysis
- Management & Maintenance
- Bridge with Multiple Functions
- Integration in the Environment
The team members paired up to search for inspiration using a number of selected insight cards and translated the idea into potential bridge solutions. Many participants felt this was the most useful exercise of the day: “new ideas are occurring to me!”
The pairs often worked well together, leading to the development of many new ideas. This meant that a choice had to be made of which ideas to take further. The facilitator presented each idea in 2 minutes, followed by a short possibility to provide feedback and additions. Then together the most interesting ideas were chosen for elaboration. Ultimately, the contractors took the final decision: after all, they had to build the bridges!
Yes, there is homework! It is not enough to just have co-creation sessions, so the teams will have to continue working between the sessions. The assignment: find more inspiration for potential solutions! Innovation is fed by inspiration, so the teams are stimulated as much as possible to search outside their area of expertise for examples of circular innovation that could be applied to bridges.
An innovative process like this definitely has challenges as well. Contractors are used to producing concrete, well-calculated proposals in a certain timeframe and for a certain budget. A co-creation process is often associated with a level of uncertainty, with searching widely for inspiration, and lack of clarity about possible results. There are boundary conditions, but how strictly must we comply? How much time will contractors need to plan for outside the sessions?
We are going to talk about these and other questions during the sessions. We learn while we work together to achieve the optimal result for the two Floriade bridges, but also to inspire those who will be replacing 40,000 bridges in the Netherlands in the coming 20 years. After all, you learn by doing! Or as one participant put it, ‘Innovation begins with an innovative process.” Are you curious about how this process will progress? Keep following us.