Workplace Innovation

At Horizons, we strive to foster a culture of learning and innovation. Our multi-disciplinary team experiments with various foresight and learning-organization tools and methods throughout the scanning and foresight stages of our projects.

We use techniques that:

  • help people think about a range of futures;
  • support collective learning;
  • encourage co-creation; and,
  • enable remote participation from any geographic location around the world.

Our Toolkit

This is a sample of key methods and tools that we utilize at Horizons.

Learning Organization Practices: To truly be classified as a learning organization, two elements must be present: the ability to design the organization to match the intended outcomes; and the ability to correct the organization’s course if the initial direction is not in line with the desired outcome.

Engagement:  The nature of our work requires constant engagement within the Public Service and beyond. To keep ahead of this growing demand, we continually develop and facilitate a variety of workshops, foresight sessions, training activities and Open Mics.

Facilitation Methods: Successful collaboration and co-creation requires planning and facilitation that supports active participation and shared learning. Here are a few of our preferred methods:

  • Courtyard Café: This method for orchestrating productive conversations among large groups of people and can accommodate anywhere from 100 to 1,200 individuals. Six to eight cafés are set up, each dedicated to a specific topic of discussion, to help compartmentalize sub-topics and then bring them into the larger conversation.
  • Possibilities Wall: This is a quick and simple way to have participants identify the challenges around a given issue by posting possibilities on meeting room walls. It is typically used at the beginning of a session, before the group starts discussing solutions.
  • Talk Show: Using a talk show format, this method provides a uniquely energetic and engaging alternative to traditional panel discussions.
  • Fish Bowl: In this activity, a small group of participants sit in circle, surrounded by a larger group of observers. The facilitator or subject-matter expert starts by giving a short talk (5-10 minutes), providing a topic and general outline for discussion. Following this introduction, the inner circle jumps into conversation. The outer circle is usually limited to listening and observing. However, members of the outer circle may participate, provided that a participant from the fishbowl (inner circle) trades places, giving up their seat and moving to the outer circle.
  • Interview Matrix:  This approach is one of the more powerful ways to get all members of a small group (40 or less) engaged in dialogue. Structured around units of four (four questions, four flipcharts and four people in each group), this method provides a simple structure for what would otherwise be a difficult to facilitate interaction.

Visual Facilitation:  Visual or graphic facilitation is the practice of using words and images to create a conceptual map of a conversation. When possible, Horizons integrates visual components to meetings through descriptive agendas, graphic illustrations and other imagery.

Web 2.0 Tools: This virtual workspace allows communities of interest to access and actively participate in our projects. It provides a practical platform to support collaboration and co-creation over the web.

We use our web 2.0 platform, Clearspace, as well as GCPedia (internal) and GCConnex (Internal).

  • The Heartbeat of On-line Collaboration: “Giving a monkey a scalpel doesn’t make him a surgeon”
  • Transforming Off-line Commitment to Online Engagement

Foresight Methods:Horizons continues to build and refine our resilient scanning and foresight methods. To learn more about these methods, check out our Foresight and Scanning resources.

Horizons staff are all trained in foresight. However, three external foresight experts were engaged to provide additional training: Peter Bishop (University of Houston), Clem Bezold (Institute for Alternative Futures), and Wendy Schultz (Infinite Futures).

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