“My key take-away from this process is the importance of bringing different perspectives together and the way we are building something collectively. This is a wonderful journey that is only just beginning.” – AAN! Accelerator participant
In 2019, 45 stakeholders from diverse backgrounds embarked upon a transformative scenarios process (TSP) through which four possible futures were constructed for the northern region of the Netherlands. This process led to the successful launch of
AAN! Noord Nederland and the follow up AAN! Accelerator process at the start of 2021.
Five teams gathered in online workshops to accelerate their initiatives. The Accelerator is an action-oriented process designed to support the participants‘ aim of creating long term positive impact for the North Netherlands. The process was funded by Shell and designed and facilitated by Reos Partners.
At Reos, we believe that complex challenges cannot be resolved by any single individual, organization, or sector working in isolation. Systemic challenges demand immediate, novel and accelerated collaboration from a wide range of stakeholders.
The AAN! Accelerator was a transformative process where teams were supported to accelerate the impact of their initiative by:
- strengthening their capacity to collaborate;
- enhancing their systemic understanding of the challenge at hand; and
- developing their action-confidence to act in complex realities.
A Reos Partners Accelerator differs from other accelerator processes in that:
- the teams consist of actors from across the system in which the initiative is embedded;
- the team members build their initiative in parallel to building their collaboration capacities; and
- the teams have access to the power of the collective for reflections, learnings and prototyping.
The teams comprised of five to seven diverse, strong influencers and change makers from various organizations or sectors. Each team brought in a new or existing initiative for positive impact in the North Netherlands:
- Food Alliance North-Netherlands: connecting change makers in the region and stimulating the food debate to accelerate transformation of the food system in the North Netherlands.
- Innovative Hub for the Eems Dollard Region in Transition: enhancing cross-pollination between education, research institutes and SMEs to keep regional talent in the region and improve the labour market in the cross-border region of North Netherlands and North Germany.
- Makeport Mercurius: enhancing collaboration between education, entrepreneurs, the government and the community of ‘Stadskanaal’ (a specific area in the province of Groningen with a range of issues) to create an innovative and sustainable manufacturing industry in the region.
- LocalNews: seeking to establish a different type of local journalism, by and for the people in the North to underpin independent reporting and combat mis- and disinformation leading to the erosion of social cohesion.
- Housing Cooperative 2.0: driving a more balanced and just housing market by connecting collective ownership and collective responsibility for the entire community.
During five half day online workshops, the five teams came together to move through the process and to accelerate their initiatives.
Session 1: Getting to know each other, building the team containers, and mapping the system.
Outputs per team: Interactive online platform; website for learning and information sharing; initial system map; clarification of the impact; strengthened team relationships and understanding of each other’s role and expertise; enhanced systemic understanding of their project and the system.
In between session 1 and 2: Dialogue walks with a team member to further strengthen the team container and collaboration.
Session 2: Identifying leverage points in the system, taking a deep dive into new perspectives and formulating solutions.
Outputs per team: System map with leverage points articulated; harvest of new perspectives; initial solutions; shared knowledge and understanding of the leverage point for change within the project and system.
In between session 2 and 3: Stakeholder interviews to gather the missing voices and create synthesis.
Session 3: Building upon prototypes by storyboarding and testing.
Outputs per team: 25-30 individual storyboards; team storyboards; increased capacities to work, act and collaborate in complex systems; a prototyping mindset within individuals and the team.
In between session 3 and 4: Testing the prototypes with relevant stakeholders to clarify and address assumptions.
Session 4: Expert coaching sessions and working time for the teams to incorporate the newfound insights into their prototypes.
Outputs per team: Faculty of relevant experts (five expert sessions); expert coaching session directed at each initiative, iterations of the prototypes and solutions, new insights and inspiration from other relevant fields of change.
In between session 4 and 5: an expert session for all participants.
Session 5: Project planning and a branding pitch that allows for cross-team feedback.
Outputs per team: Project plan for prototype development; team pitches; strengthened action-confidence in order to act in complex realities.
Teams aim to scale up their initiatives by connecting to existing networks in the region starting by launching these within the existing network of around 300 people from the TSP North Netherlands.
Reos Partners and the teams will continue to evaluate and map the positive impact of this work in the region.