The i2connect project is all about encouraging interactive innovation processes that mobilize diverse actors such as farmers/foresters, advisors, researchers, businesses, NGOs etc., who put together their knowledge, skills and experience, to address a joint problem to which they seek a solution. In interactive innovation, farmers, practitioners or end-users as experts, share power and responsibility and actively contribute to influence the process thereby resulting in joint ownership of the outcome.
Why interaction innovation?
The rationale behind this is simple: the traditional way of improving performance of farmers / foresters by asking experts / advisors to analyse the situation, diagnose the problem and come up with the solution is no longer sufficient in many situations. The complexity of many problems in agriculture and forestry requests for a bottom-up multi-stakeholder innovation approach as described above.
The purpose of Excellence Classes
In every days’ advisory practice there may be many obstacles for moving into interactive innovation processes. Some of these relate to the skills and tools that advisors need themselves. For this the I2Connect project executes train-the-trainer-programmes and develops a pool of experts to share experiences and learn from each other. Yet, even when an advisor recognizes the importance of interaction innovation and knows what to do to realise successful interactive innovation projects, it needs an enabling environment, i.e., the backup of his or her organisation, to move forward. The purpose of the Excellence Classes is to work on this enabling environment.
The three most-prominent concerns
Earlier in this project a survey among advisory organisations has been executed revealing that managers in advisory organisations (being important actors in the enabling environment) have the most-prominent concerns on three aspects of interactive innovation:
- human resource aspects, i.e., the skills and competences that their advisors need for interactive innovation
- organisational aspects, i.e., the consequences of interactive innovation for the work organization, and
- financial aspects, i.e., the impact that interactive innovation will have on the organisation’s business model and continuity.
Participants for the Excellence Classes
In the Excellence Class we will elaborate on and discuss above three concerns. This means that the Excellence Classes will be of particular interest for three types of managers in advisory organisations: human resource managers, team or project managers, and overall managers (CEO/CFO). Yet, we have also learnt in this project that across organisations in Europe there are considerable differences in familiarity with bottom-up multi-stakeholder innovation processes. Managers who have little experience with such processes within their organisation may be unwilling to participate in Excellence Classes. In such cases it is useful to look for the next-best alternative, e.g., a senior advisor with close links to the management, to participate. The I2Connect project tries to push boundaries with respect to interactive innovation so European-wide participation is of eminent importance. The content and the discussions in the Excellence Class will certainly help the senior advisor to trigger managers to open up for the new approach and otherwise this participant has built a network in the Excellence Class with managers who he or she could link to the own managers to discuss about it.
The Excellence Classes will be held with a maximum of 20 participants, and each Excellence Class consists of an introductory online meeting of 2,5 hours and two days of physical meetings. The introductory online meeting of the Excellence Class will be held on May 3rd, 2022. The other two days will be held on June 20th and June 21st 2022 in Lugo / Santiago de Compostella (Spain) preceding the International conference of IALB, EUFRAS and SEASN which is held in the week of June 21st till June 26th 2022.
For any questions and inquiries about the upcoming excellence classes, please contact: Dora Lakner firstname.lastname@example.org and Jos Verstegen email@example.com
Prepared by: Jos Verstegen, Ugo Denis, Dora Lakner