Davos 05 Images
Collaboration @ the WEF Annual meeting
There is perhaps no place on earth like Davos during the WEF Annual Meeting. This has been true for over a third of a century. At this DAVOS the goal was to engage members differently. To increase interaction. To enhance design and collaboration. To take on hard issues and to come to some conclusions - an action agenda - by the end of the meeting [link]. These objectives were accomplished and the stage was set for a greater scale of experimentation in the future.
The DAVOS WorkSpace was designed and installed by AI [link] of the MG Taylor Corporation [link] and operated, during the Annual Meeting, by MG Taylor, TomorrowMakers [link], Architects of GroupGenius [link] and members of the MG Taylor KnowledgeWorker network in conjunction with Patrick Frick and members of the World Economic Forum. 17 sessions were conducted over a 5 day period. Over a thousand Forum members and Fellows used the environment and its processes.
The theme of this Forum was TOUGH ISSUES. Scenarios were employed to stretch member’s thinking and to focus the dialog on existing and future challenges. CEOs were asked to re-conceive their organizations. These dialogs were not always easy. In addition to global and organizational issues, workshops also addressed personal development and growth. That which divides people from one another was explored and the development new perspectives encouraged [link].
In 2001, our workshops were one and a half hours long. This year, they were two and a half to three and a half hours. Still too short for optimum results. One more hour allowing another iteration of work and the productivity of the sessions could be doubled. There is a natural progression in the creative process that has to be respected. Emergence [link] also has a natural set of requirements. Environment, process and augmentation tools have to be configured to support the work.
I am always enchanted when watching people collaborating. Over time, their expressions change and their body language starts to send a different message.The mind becomes more intense - the body more relaxed. They fall into a restful action state that can be sustained for hours. I think that this is human expression in its most real form. The best comes out when this state is achieved. Content shifts. Things get done that otherwise cannot be accomplished. GroupGenius is released and put to work.
It is critical that “place” be established by the environment. The typical meeting room is generic, establishes no brand and lacks a “center” and focus. The relationship between people is established by default. Only a few work modes are supported. The variety is low and people are“cued” to act in traditional ways. Prospect and refuge are lacking. While used to such environments, people are not comfortable in them.They do not relax and rarely achieve a natural rhythm of dialog and work.
During a workshop exploring the relationship between the USA and Europe [link], Patrick Oliphant drew a cartoon nearly 30 feet long. This expressed the division that has grown during the past few years and made an interesting backdrop to a dialog that sought to hear all sides and reconcile differences. The Forum offers and neutral space and rare opportunity for this to happen. The WorkSpace provides amenity and processes that facilitate difficult interactions.
In today’s world of sound bites and prepackaged responses played out in measured time-fragments, truth is rarely spoken. Words become weapons rather that the means of communication and understanding. Co-design and collaboration is lost to positioning and negotiation. Complexity cannot be effectively dealt with this way. People need time. Time to understand and reach across cultural barriers. Time to design solutions together that are not based on compromise. Trust is built by working productively together.
While Forum members worked, the KnowledgeWorkers captured their words and images, prepared upcoming sessions with workshop leaders, connected the “Red Treads” that developed between the various sessions and the the rest of the Forum activities, and assisted participants with graphics. Today, the WorkSpace is unique. The mission [link] is to make this kind of facility ubiquitous and normal. Global systemic, complex issues requires GroupGenius and the instant distribution of work products.
The Davos WorkPlace is a knowledge factory. All modes of communication and work are supported. This work is “manufactured” into work products that support ongoing implementation efforts and future generations of work. As an RDS, the environment can be moved where required. The 05 Annual Meeting was the first use of this tool a Davos. There remain many applications to be explored. This use was not the end of the story - it is the beginning.
In this environment, large work walls allow users to write large and share their ideas. Information can be displayed. All this can be worked and reworked until the ownership of the result belongs to the team doing the work. Multiple iterations of idea development are easily supported. Ideas become universal and developed - not the property of one vantage point. Teams can form and re-form as required. The group energy is held in one space while many local areas of work can proceed at their own pace.
The RDS [link] creates a “room within a room” that allows the physical and psychological space to be shaped to fit the work process being used while also responding to the time of day. The DAVOS WorkSpace can accommodate 80 people as one room or be divided into two spaces of 50 plus each. Music, lighting and media can be controlled in each of these two areas and within sections of them. Power and multimedia wiring are supplied through the Armature [link] and is within easy use for all.
November 7, 2005 Update
The 2005 WEF RDS was a successful deployment. It fulfilled over 90% of its intended design mission. A few more deployments and the system would reach, with incremental refinement, its full capacity. However, because of the short time period and change in Forum leadership, which prevented collaboration among all members of the VaueWeb, the RDS was a very good rendition of the wrong solution. What was designed and delivered was an environment capable of performing all of functions of a NavCenter and the entire scale and scope of the Taylor Method. The graphics (below and rh column) are the first concept sketches of a system designed to evolve in concert with the World Economic Forum’s employment of new interactive methods, as well as, an increased number of meeting in various parts of the world. This new design is modular horizontally and vertically allowing the armature system to reconfigure in real time in consort with the WorkWalls and WorkFurniture.
Reduced weight and complexity, not sacrificing any functionality, while still creating an environment conducive to making strong memory [link: memory in the taylor method] is the goal of this new design. These specifications are demanding and require exacting design trade-offs while avoiding compromise. A new level of integration of work processes, technology and environment has to be reached along with a new level of time, cost and complexity economy. A fully functional RDS has long been the goal of MG Taylor and this design will draw heavily on R&D performed over the last several years. The new RDS platform design team is Bill Blackburn, Brian Ross and myself. The Tree concept will take several iterations of Design/Build/Use before it is a mature solution.
In September, 2005 a design process was started to transfer the Taylor Method to the Forum and to create a next generation RDS that was tightly tuned to the aspects of the Method that the Forum actual employes at any given time and place. This design intent requires a lighter and more flexible environment that can be shipped all over the world with the capability to be configured just as required for each specific deployment and the actual techniques to be useded. The design of this RDS will require active involvement of the WEF and its partners. This collaborative process started the week of this posting. The design sketches are proof-of-concept studies that demonstrate the design strategy agreed to by MG Taylor and the Forum leadership in September. The design will evolve as all the issues are considered: budget, flexibility, technology, process modules, weight and logistics, branding, participant group size, and the nature of the host environments.
The story of the development of this design is told elsewhere [link: next generation rds for the wef]. This system will not be ready for the 06 Annual Meeting although some elements may be. The first full deployment will be at one of the regional meetings sometime between April and June. It will take about three deployments to refine and build out the entire system. It is expected that the system will have to, in time, support more than one deployment at a time and that its use at the Davos Annual Meetings will expand beyond the WorkPlace now housed in the Aspen Room. The goal is that this Method becomes ubiquitous and transparent at all WEF sessions.
posted: January 31, 2005 • updated November 13, 2005
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