More about the "Innovation Lab" format

Spinwaves Lab is not a standard training or course. It is a leadership trajectory in the form of a social innovation lab. Why is that so, and what does it entail? What makes it different from other leadership programmes? Because sustainability does not require more leaders in old systems, but people who design and develop new systems with new ideas. That is complex work in a tough environment. 

The complexity arises because there are many interests at stake. We work in a sector where scarcity plays a role, where questions of blame, guilt and responsibility aris,e and where experts with visions tumble over each other. The issues we face are still developing. There is no concrete 'how can we ....' question to be formulated at the right level. It is impossible to formulate a question at the right level (where the source of the problem is) because there is so much going on at the same time. The various transitions and the accompanying chaos make it difficult to see the playing field. What is “wise” action? How do we prevent a solution from unwittingly worsening a buried problem?  

Fortunately, there is an increasing awareness of the need to shift to a much broader or larger perspective; the specific challenges of the construction and property sector do not stand alone. A perspective that only becomes visible when you step out of your judgement and learn to look at and listen to each other again. Awareness of the new perspective is quickly followed by the insight that familiar working methods and business models are no longer applicable. Spinwaves Lab provides a safe context for you to work, learn and experiment with others. That understanding of complexity, of disruption, of the impossibility of applying old approaches to the current situation is at the forefront of Spinwaves Lab. And Spinwaves Lab offers you the opportunity to take distance from it, without letting it go. 

In an innovation lab there are 4 core components:

1. The Innovation Lab works with the whole system. There is the social aspect of bringing together the key change agents in a system, who have different perspectives, views or perspectives on the challenge at hand. Really different groups of stakeholders come together, explore a challenge that is shared. So there really is a common need. This is like the social field of the lab.

2. The Innovation Lab is experimental. The lab itself has an iterative approach where we learn with each other and from each other. So the different participants (stakeholders) in the lab bring their own expertise and the richness of their own experience. But there is a recognition that this is (and understandably so) limited to their point of view. So when you come together you have the opportunity to learn within the field, but then also to develop together a possible solution based on this broadened field of understanding and knowledge.

3. The Innovation Lab is action-oriented. Many projects are great at developing solutions or ideas about solutions to understand problems, but a lab in itself is about going beyond that and implementing possible actions to solve the problem. So going beyond just ideas, or just analysis or criticism. There is also a focus on 'scale'. In other words, action aimed at taking promising ideas, initiatives and even larger-scale projects further and connecting them. We need to bring everything together to develop the right order and scale of prototypes.

4. The Innovation Lab works with the interconnected relationship between personal development, the leadership of the change agents themselves, and the initiation of systemic change. There is a relationship between the individuals involved in their own personal change process, but also the desired systemic change. The perception of problems as being 'out there' needs to be shifted. The lab focuses as much attention on the internal capacities of the participants as on their systemic role in the transformation project. So it becomes personal, subjective as well as objective and there really has to be a willingness to experience a degree of personal change in the process, as much as the intention to bring about a change in the construction and property sector.

Dialogue is a crucial pillar in all of this

It is about the ability to listen on a deeper level than the normal, quick, 'I hear what I hear and I solve what I solve': to enter into a conversation beyond the belief that “my way” or “your way” is the right way.

We are dealing with complexity and speed of disruption on a scale that we as humanity have never experienced before. That makes it almost ridiculous to think that we can predict the outcomes needed to manage transformation in such a context of disruption. So to try to use the old way of thinking: Let's see the problem, let's think of the solution. And then let's take the steps towards that particular solution. 

To think that the simplicity of that is even possible in this day and age… A certain courage is required of us, that right now, a certain mastery, essentially of our own fear of stepping into the unknown, that is part of the leadership that we are called to. So if we would rather stay on the bank of the river that we know, even if it doesn't work, than dive into a river that we don't know which way is up, whether we will get to the other side, that is a great question to ask people. And yet, it is the only question at the moment. 

Marian Goodman in an interview about her experiences with the innovation lab: