Vejle, 23-24 October 2009

We met in Vejle, Denmark by invitation of the municipality of Vejle and the Balancity project.  21 people from 10 countries joined to meet in the conference center in Vingstedt.

We met over two days

What did the participants think? Here are some stories.

Jochen Metzger, Hamburg, Germany

Okay. My perspective is the one of a curious but Zero-A.I.-experienced journalist. Maybe quite different from the rest of the group. This is what happend to me at Vejle:
Day 1: For me it was the first time to see A.I. „at work“ (well, at least some parts of it). At day 1 I learned a lot about Vejle an Jelling. But also heard a couple of wonderful stories about national identities (really: what did I know about Kazakhstan?) and great museum-experiences. At that particular point I felt, what A.I. can do: We shared the stories in small groups, connected very quickly and inspired ourselves mutualy (I guess) to remember more or even better stories from our past. After that, it felt very easy to agree on some key factors for such great experiences (in our group we named them:

  1. Being close to something bigger than me
  2. Being close to a dream or fantasy come true
  3. Doing something while making the experience (for example: hiking)
  4. Feeling empathy to people from other times/places – maybe feel what it’s like to be human
  5. Being connected with my own identity
  6. It might be helpful for the museum to have one masterpeace (two being even better))

All this has been created just by a couple of simple, but well selected questions. Hey, where do you get more self-efficacy? (maybe that’s why it can be fun to be an A.I.-consultant? Just a guess …).
So this is what I got from the working-time in day one: Connection, invention, tools for solutions/new ideas, inspiration.
Apart from that: I was feeling like an apprentice on his first day in „the firm“, surrounded by professionals. That’s situation I like very much – I can ask questions all the time and everybody has an answer.

2nd day: All our „Open Space“-plans exploded in a second. I have never seen Open Space. So now my conclusion is: The radical openness of the method inculdes it’s vulnerability to those, who are not so keen in taking part in it. Probably this is an oversimplification. But it will definitely be my working-hypothesis for the future. But then: We found a new agenda for the day very fast. I liked that, but still wonder why and how it happened. ???
Interesting and strange to me: When I came home from a meeting full of appreciation and non-deficit-thinking/-talking I had two days where the thoughts that popped up spontaneously, were definitely MORE deficit-oriented than they ususally are. Why? Maybe Christine’s idea (we should do some “appreciative wrestling” at the next meeting) is not so bad after all?

What struck me was the heterogeneity of the group. Not just in terms of personality or age (it was an honour to have lunch and dinner with Ruth!) – but also: profession, organisation, methodology, interest. What is it that keeps this group of people together? Why will they want to be in Bled next spring? Why would I want to be there?

So much for today.


All the best from the Hamburg-area

Madelyn Blair, Maryland, USA
Jochen, you captured so well the sense of how this group works as you described the two days — and especially, day 2. In a story that I wrote about the Regio-Emilia meeting, I spoke of the ability of the group to deal with chaos without losing connection with each other. And this time, you saw this phenomenon happening again. The desire to relate to one another is more powerful than the desire to control. Beautiful when seen in the ‘doing.’

Madelyn Blair, Ph.D.  Pelerei, Inc.  Turning Vision into Reality

Yvor Broer, Denmark & the Netherlands
First of all, I felt privileged to come into the meeting at the time I came in. The question on purpose of the network and the proceedings of the network meetings, somehow connected very well to the meeting I some weeks earlier attended in London. That meeting, which started off on the discussion on how Europe could formulate a kind of AI curriculum and ended with a huge list of elements that would stimulate deep learning, which would never fit in a strict curriculum, made me aware that we do not do what we say that one should do, namely using AI ourselves during the meeting. Also, following that list of elements (also called a menu for deep learning), we could do so much more to learn from each other. Have a look at and see what I mean. I would love to bring some of these elements into the next meeting!

Also, and even when I was not there, I think it was great to involve the local context into the meeting. I might have sounded critical about how the school intervention was done (calling it unethical), but the idea is good (in Bled we would be silly not to involve some students of the Business School into our programme).

I came with a case study to last meeting, but did not find the space to bring it in. What happened instead (of the open space) was more than good, but the case emerged after the meeting, meaning that I am over thinking it more and more, even when the job to which it refers to is already over. It somehow has very much to do with the connection between values and visions, but moreover how to address team and organisational values that are not ‘internalised’ by individuals. Basically what I did, is altering AI completely (although, the way I used AI before). I started by asking for a story when these values were put at risk (yes, I know, there might be blaming into it) and how they worked on it. That worked just well, as the risk factor was external. But then I also skipped the dreaming phase, as somehow the group did not want to follow. What I did instead is taking the positive core, make them write it into the future, making it stretching, provocative and ambitious, and voila, there was a vision statement that brought the group bold plans all wanted to commit to. Maybe something for the next meeting?

Having said this, I would like to have some space at the next meeting where we can deeper share experiences and questions, in formats like supervision/ intervision. Such as the issue above. And for sure we all have stories we want to get a deeper insight into.

These are just some reflections and thoughts. Please feel free to react/ connect and see if we can make some clear points out of it for the next meeting.

With kind regards,

Yvor Broer

Nadya Zhexembayeva

Vejle Network Meeting was my very first experience of connecting with the European AI community. It is interesting that even as I write these words, it still surprises me that I need to think about regional, cultural, and philosophical distinctions here. You see, up to this point, AI community for was that – AI community, no boundaries, no specific focus. What I came to discover is that for some it is very important to define AI in a local, regional, etc focus. While I honor that completely, for me personally it is a very unusual space to be talking about ‘American AI’, ‘European AI,’ or any other similar divisions – I guess being a Russian-Kazakh-American-living-in-Slovenia would do that to you :)… But something is there to inquire into, still.

There is something to inquire into as the most precious reflection on Vejle experience is that, at least for me, it felt like home. It was connecting, and inspiring, and sometimes stretching, just as any AI gathering throughout the world. May be we are not that different after all.

I found the two-day format very helpful: focused work on Day 1, open space on Day 2. It is good to see community wisdom in action – our plans were blueprints at most, with constant changes, re-evaluation, and re-design of the day’s activities as we went on. Gives me good food for thought as we start working on designing the next Network Meeting – hosted by my own institution – IEDC-Bled School of Management in Slovenia! I think we should build-in a summit into our next meeting, what do you think?

And yes, do come on over to the most majestic Alpine lake Bled – so that we can find ways to connect and inquire all over again 🙂

Steen Soegaard, Denmark
It was a pleasure to host the meeting, getting people from so many countries to join, share and socialise.
So thanks to anyone, and I’m looking forward to our upcoming meetings, work and influencing the future!

Here we are – 7 weeks or more since we met in Vejle, DK. So far it has been positive reflections, ideas and thoughts I’ve met.
The responses from the School are positive and they are pushing forward. Our ideas to the Jelling Monuments are now being used by the headmaster of our National Archives in Copenhagen. So we all did a difference and influenced work many months into the future.

So pride, success and begeistring are the words from here!

Leif Josefsson

I truly enjoyed the meeting. It was an open dialogue, we came to good conclusions and decisions. The first day at the Jelling monument was for me very exciting. And the highlight of the second day was how the group dialogue flowed in a gentle and still sharp and constructive direction.

And it is fantastic that we now have decided on the next four meetings!  So next open space to arrange a network meeting is spring of 2012!  It has been as though we have been building a house through these years, talking about how to design the house, where to put the kitchen, laying out the rooms etc.  And at this meeting we came to a point where we realized that we had a house to move into.  So now we can talk about what to cook for dinner, rather than about how to design the kitchen!