Copenhagen was strangely sultry for mid-September. Each morning as we walked/metro-ed/uber-ed our way to Copenhagen Business School the sun was warm and uplifting. But then as the day progressed it became uncomfortably sticky until the cool relief of the late summer evenings. This unseasonal weather seemed to set the tone for the meeting.
We greeted each other with the broad smiles and genuine embraces which only come with the familiarity of a year’s worth of working together. Although there was an anticipation about the difficult questions we had to answer over the two-day workshop, the atmosphere was warm and optimistic (something that the Skype calls has rarely managed to achieve).
In the morning we proceeded with the planned talks and activities, sharing knowledge about T2C materials on a tour of R&D islands. In the heat of the afternoon, we started to explore our design islands. Navigating from materials R&D to new design concepts was tricky at first, it took a while for people to adjust to the unfamiliarity of design applications – the journey could have been smoother. At the end of Day 1 it wasn’t clear if we had achieved everything we had intended; had the two areas of materials knowledge from science and design cross-pollinated or simply passed each other by? And some difficult questions about project direction remained unresolved.
By contrast Day 2 was a dramatic voyage. We started by raising again the project direction issues in an open discussion. There was an uncomfortable uncertainty as partners discussed their contribution to solving the problems. Through some brilliant tools and mediation from our lead facilitator from Material Connexion and the generous collaboration of all of the partners, gradually the indecision turned into commitments and the sticky discomfort changed to excited optimism.
As we fed back the previous day’s Design and R&D Island work to the whole group, we began to see the project pulling together in a synchronicity that hadn’t been possible before. The project materials lined up with the manufacturing capabilities and we began to see the types of products they could become.
The joy after a truly intense, sticky and rocky 2 Day journey was palpable: “This was the best workshop yet”. Even if at times it felt like we might at any moment become stranded, the hard work of working together paid off.
My big takeaway from Copenhagen: “we need uncomfortable moments to progress”
And the result? By workshop 06 in London we will have our first design concepts and our first Trash-2-Cash material samples.