“When you want to increase innovation, build your own greenhouse.”
This opening statement suited quite perfectly the very first THNKLab that took place at the PICNIC ’10 Festival on 23 September. THNK indeed built its own greenhouse and used it as a venue for the prototyping of its problem-solving approach. The focus of the THNKLab was on learning on all different levels. How does the learning process work, how to facilitate it and make it most efficient while making optimal use of the enormous diversity of people involved in the lab?
These very fundamental questions were explored by way of applying a generic design approach that focused on ways to resolve one of the more pervasive societal dilemmas of our time, the way in which we have designed our democracy: how to rebuild trust and bridge the gap between voters and politicians? The THNKLab created a temporary no-comfort zone: a transparent environment in which everyone can watch, with no fixed set-up, leading to an open discussion, but with a strict deadline and methodology.
Four teams, composed of individuals from very different backgrounds, embarked on this challenge together, aiming to have actually created something in the end—a meaningful prototype or set of prototypes. One team was composed of established professionals at management level: scientists, creative thinkers, entrepreneurs, and administrators. The remaining teams consisted of citizens with a world of valuable experience and ideas. The teams went ahead and got to the meat of the question at hand surprisingly quickly. In the process, they were guided and inspired by four talented and engaging instructors of the Stanford d.school that came over to Amsterdam especially for our THNKLab.