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Notes from a journey across the European Landscape

In this post I will make some personal notes after a summer journey that has taken me across parts of Europe.
Lets start with some background. At the last network meeting in Norway the group agreed that aicommunity.net should be the “official website” for the European Network.  The group also agreed to the I, Leif Josefsson, would be appointed coordinator for 2008.  We also made a decision around a model of network sponsorship in order to fund some work around website and coordination.

As a result of this we now have five sponsors:
Three Gold sponsors:  ESADE Business School, TNO Management Consultants and AI Practitioner.
Two Silver Sponsors: Optimum Interventions and LeanderLeander

With some funding in the pocket I decided to go for a European tour this summer.  This took me to Italy in June to visit Yvonne Bonner, and recently  to UK to discuss with Julie Barnes and the UK network.  And as I write this I have just met Kees Ahaus in the Netherlands.  Kees was together with Anne Radford the originator of the current network.

Here are some thoughts and findings from these meetings.

landscaping in Italy yvonneIn Italy we had a lot of discussions around the network meeting (The result of that you will find HERE) but also around ideas of networking, where the philosphy of AI fits in, and around use of the web.  The “Landscape” metaphor is one result of our discussion.

As we talked about the web we tried to recapture what people had told about what they would like to see.  And our conclusion from our conversations was somewhat like the following.

  1. The people of the network want to meet in real life.  But the web can be used to make future meeting easier to plan, administrate and come to.  The web can also be used to reconnect people to the feeling and results of the meetings, whether they have participated or not.
  2. The people of the network wants to be able to connect in between meetings. Probably more in a sense that you can find someone with a competence you need, or just tap into the network if you have a question or need of guidance.
  3. There should be an opportunity to share.  It does not need to have a purpose, or be part of a conversation.  Maybe just like a wall, or a cloud of ideas, artifacts.

In the UK I had some wonderful meetings leading up to the UK network meeting.  Networking in London
On Thursday July 10th with Julie Barnes, Lesley More and Linda Mitchell.  The UK AI network is already over 50 people and is really growing fast.  The topics of our discussions was a lot around individual profiling, and about how the UK AI network could fit in the larger network.  We also discussed the idea of Web Co-Creators which is a nicer role than being a Web Master.

The network meeting hosted 26 participants with many new faces. Lots of energy. Lots of laughs.  One result of the meeting is a commitment that the UK AI network would use the Networkplace.eu framework.  And possibly also a group of “Web Co-Creators” who could work together to facilitate communication through the web.

In an interesting session about “communication in between meetings” we were sketching ideas around tools to support connections, very much in accordance to the discussion above.  For a couple of us with a deeper IT knowledge we realized that we were talking about something that is closer to Web 3.0 than 2.0 …..

Finally, I flew to the Netherlands to meet with Kees Ahaus. 
Networking in the netherlandsWe worked together on the first day to explore the program ideas of the Reggio Emilia Network Conference and I think we now can say that we do have a program we feel very happy with.  We looked into the meaning of the first day – Connecting to the Landscape – and found at least two very relevant reasons for our approach

  • Connecting to the place we visit in a conscious way makes it possible for us to explore the place using methods and approaches from the “toolbox” of our philosophy.  This means also providing a basis for reflection on what we have experienced. We believe that this approach also will be deeply meaningful for local representatives that will participate in this day, and possibly provide opportunities for future collaboration.
  • During this first day we will use the approaches of Narratives and the Value Dialogue to facilitate the program using an idea of “Theory injection” at each program module: A short presentation around the topic/approach that will inspire our learning further.

On Sunday we also talked about why the topic of “organisation” of the network always brings a certain level of frustration.  Maybe it is because when we start to talk about “Purpose”, “Goals”, “Business Model” we think of the network as a “Person” or an “Organisation”. 

How would it be if we instead think about the network as a place?  And instead of paying membership fee you pay an entrance fee to the place?

And when we come to this place together, we can find others, in order to Connect, Combine and Create ideas, projects, artifacts out of what inspires us and out of that find direction and commitment to change our lives, our workplaces, our community – or the world?

Haarlem, the Netherlands
July 15, 2008
Leif Josefsson