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Co-Fest 2014: Learning to ride the twist

BY Fernando L. Mompó on 23 / 07 / 2014
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None of us is in any doubt: the twist of disruption is on its way, and in many cases already upon us, making its heavy presence felt in all types of companies and organizations; through all sorts of sectors and industries.

The storm arrives with a force that razes the landscape, rendering all the business models we’ve been using for decades – if not centuries – useless, and the ways we conduct business unworkable. So the formulas we have used until now are going to be valid no longer, and the only intelligent strategy left to us is to ride the twist, and dominate the inevitable force of change; to turn it to our favour and convert the threat into opportunity.

Helping to determine how this should be done was the main objective of Co-Fest 2014. For two days, under the inspirational dome of the National Art Museum of Catalonia and with the city of Barcelona at our feet, we explored the principal technological, social and business trends that are currently affecting or about to have an impact on different key sectors. We heard the testimonies of professionals from organizations that are already converting these changes to opportunities, and we worked collaboratively using a range of tools that will help participants to reorganize themselves and their organizations and ride this twist effectively.

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Experts and demos to understand what is happening

Riding this twist of disruption requires a necessary first step: understanding exactly what is going on. And this was the mission of the more-than 15 experts selected for their knowledge of the sectors in which radical innovation initiatives are already being developed: the city, home, mobility, architecture, health, energy, finance, education,… Every key area had its focus at Co-Fest 2014, using a formula of brief interventions in which specialists put forward the three most relevant disruptive ideas that are expected to impact each field over the next five years.

This activity revealed many inspiring ideas as, for instance, that the cities of the future will have to use technologies that are much more inclusive than they are today; homes will have to be adapted for new uses that keep up with the evolution of the families within them; and electric mobility will have to overcome range anxiety. We confirmed that the most necessary disruption in health will come not from new therapies or technology but from new management models, and that the best strategy for start-ups competing with electricity market giants is to focus on the customer instead of on the competitors.

The event also gave us the opportunity to see and touch first hand some of the principal technologies of the imminent storm: we tested Google Glass, we saw a drone fly over our heads, and we made a 3D print of a hand.

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Tools and workshops to get started

As we believe in the educational benefits of Learning by Doing, the Co-Fest 2014 programme devoted as much time to doing as to listening. Through a range of workshops and exercises we set to work on different aspects of the personal and organizational training needed to ride the twist. All the activities were based on the principle of working in collaboration to exploit the combination of knowledge and experience of participants coming from a diverse selection of sectors and countries.

Re-Business was a warm-up session that took place before the intervention of the experts on the present and future of different sectors. Working in expressly interdisciplinary groups, we determined the principal challenges the twist will bring to each field or market, and how organisations could adapt to the changes. The Open Space workshop created a similar collaborative context to work on the more specific challenges put forward by some participants; a brief but intense seminar on Idea Maps demonstrated the advantages of this ideation tool and how it can be used in our innovation processes.

Finally, a Rapid Prototype workshop gave participants the challenge of coming up in less than one hour with different innovative solutions to improve the experience of a beach bar. And quite sincerely, after having a look to the results we generated we would like somebody to put some of them into practice to improve our next holiday experience!

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Goal: RE-YOU + RE-ORG

Other activities had the more direct mission of ensuring the participants of Co-Fest 2014 went away with an agenda of transformations that they can use to reinvent innovation in their respective organisations. The workshop RE-YOU + RE-ORG was based on this objective, putting the same questions that just a few days previously had been the basis of a group project at our Innovation Summer School for young: How can companies innovate more and better? How can they reshape the role of the person in charge of innovation to make this happen? And how can they transmit the urgency of innovation through the whole company?

The seminar on Idea Maps also worked towards these goals, with a practical exercise that inspired the collaboration of everybody there in defining the personal and organisational requirements needed to ride the twist. Perseverance and passion, a desire to adapt, curiosity, boldness and talent are a few of the qualities that were determined to be essential, just as there were some other elements that Co-Society hopes to have encouraged during Co-Fest 2014 such collaboration, an understanding of the ecosystem, the importance of having appropriate tools available, opening the mind to new ideas, and above all, to enjoy the process.

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Co-Fest 2014 at Flickr

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