Thursday, June 19, 2014

What a fantastic experience

On Thursday, 12 June, 2014, the InCo Experiential Conference was held in Ljubljana, presenting 12 approaches under the common title From Inspiration To Innovation. The event was held at Kulturni spomenik D125 by Vibacom d.o.o., initiator of coordinator of the InCo Movement For an Innovative Breakthrough of Slovenia in cooperation with the Managers' Association of Slovenia, Slovenian Association of Facilitators, Architecture Centre and expert groups and individual experts. The Conference provided its participants with a unique experience of a systemic approach to a comprehensive innovation process through 12 different methods, which represent a future for learning and competence acquiring methods.

Photo: Physical space and atmosphere management Raphael Duret-Nauche
Source: Pina Maja Bulc
At the event, the participants were able to experience the complete innovation process. Throughout the various phases of the innovation process (Idea, Invention, Innovation) they were using different methods, tools, models and approaches for the successful implementation of each phase and were exchanging experiences and expanding their horizons in finding new opportunities. In addition to Slovenian participants, the Conference was also attended by representatives of the Beyond Leadership organisation from Austria and Germany.

Violeta Bulc, initiator and coordinator of the Conference, General Manager of Vibacom d.o.o.: “From the beginning, the Conference was infused with an exceptional anticipation of exploration, wonder and involvement. This was actually our primary aim - to motivate all Conference participants to feel the power of creation with the support of the environment around them, and also with the methods and people at the Conference, for both those conducting it and the members of the teams. The first impressions collated at the conclusion of the first part of the Conference indicated a willingness to participate; and focused the attention of all participants, indicateing what the future for learning and competence acquiring methods could be. This also made us realise the advantages of the smallness of the Slovenian business environment – the fact that we all know each other, which enables us to organise ourselves very quickly. I sincerely hope we will be able to develop this into a service that we can market in the international arena and thus promote the internationalisation of Slovenian service industry."

Photo: Model of Conference
Source: Vibacom
Below are a few highlights from the Conference in the form of statements from some of the participants and organisers. The full report on the Conference, accompanied by all impressions, experiences and new discoveries, will be available before autumn.

Introduction to the Conference at the central square

VIDEO 1: Violeta Bulc, initiator and coordinator of the Conference, General Manager of Vibacom d.o.o.:
"Initially, the participants were divided into nine groups with nine team members each; each of the nodes of the three key phases of the process was moderated by a professional moderator, and within each of the nodes the participants were acquainted with three methods."

VIDEO 2:  Kaja Rangus, Vibacom, d.o.o., Conference coordinator:
"The key aim of the Conference with respect to open innovation is to enable participants to cooperate, communicate, exchange knowledge and ideas and jointly create a solution instead of working each in their own corner, hidden from others; they have a common goal and they want to achieve the best result possible."

Tatjana Fink, Conference participant: "I want to express my congratulations for the idea and the organisation of this Conference to its creators, organisers and everyone involved in its implementation. The greatest value of what we've learned here is in no less than twelve methods of innovation that we were introduced to and able to compare, assessing their applicability in the process from idea to market placement. The experience of being able to test these methods in a practical exercise was priceless."

Photo: Introductory meeting of organizers
Source: Pina Maja Bulc
Tičo Zupančič, President of Beyond Leadership for Slovenia, moderator of the 'The Power of Connecting' method for designing a conceptual solution: “I am delighted with the exceptionally high level at which a group of Slovenian organisers were able to create this globally unique event that may represent a model for the future. If we were able to inspire and advise Robin Hood on how to shape his future society, why couldn't we show the way to Robin Hoods of the 21st century. Even the title itself – 'Experiential Conference – From Inspiration to Innovation' is remarkable. It was just as advertised – an incredible experience of a conference. A source of inspiration for all participants; this Conference is a global innovation. In the name of Beyond Leadership I can only say: "It's a privilege we were able to contribute."

VIDEO 3: Marjeta Novak, CPF, moderator of the IDEA node, President of the Slovenian Association of Facilitators
"What I found particularly stimulating here was that the activities were based on a game. This playful element, which is something we usually try to weave into our moderated process, albeit in a more subdued degree to help participants relax and be more open to new areas of possibility, was the central focus of this conference and I felt that people were more lively than usual, more receptive to new ideas, more open, more willing to participate; this was the true added value of this conference."

Understanding the needs and the value created for the market (innovation)
The central aim of the Market Manifestation phase was to enable the shaping of an innovative idea based on market needs and behaviours. The key question the participants needed to answer in this node was: Who is our client?

Photo: Implementation of technique "Customer Segmentation in Innovation
Development According to the MABS Method"
Source: Pina Maja Bulc

Mojca Štepic, Heart of Slovenia Development Centre, d. o. o., moderator of the "Customer Segmentation in Innovation Development According to the MABS Method": “This InCo Conference was a great challenge, both for those organising and conducting it as well as its participants. This very first attempt of applying gamification to business challenges within the framework of a conference proved to be a fascinating, pleasant and relaxed experience that was also – and most importantly – useful and effective. Finally, we were able to attend a conference that was not tedious, a conference stimulating thought and producing results that will actually be useful following its conclusion."

Photo:  Implementation of technique "Running Lean: customer interviews"
Source: Pina Maja Bulc

VIDEO 4: Nastja Mulej,, moderator of the 'Lateral Thinking in Designing a Conceptual Solution' method
"I would recommend these methods to everyone, even myself – my deepest regret here at this Conference is that I repeated my method three times, meanwhile missing out on learning about the other methods and tools."

Design of a conceptual solution (idea)

Photo: Catering for lunch
Source: Pina Maja Bulc
The central aim of the 'Design of a Conceptual Solution' phase was to analyse and examine our inspiration with the use of various methods and find the possible courses for developing our ideas (in our case, this was a business model – a strategic plan for Robin Hood). The key question the participants needed to answer in this node was: What is the purpose of the formation of our team? What is the aim of our solution?

Photo: Souvenir of the Conference
Source: Pina Maja Bulc

Sonja Klopčič, Conference participant: "What delighted me the most was how much good will, dedication and joint creativity was invested into organising this event. The combination of organisers' synchronised work, moderator nodes, and intuition and energy stimulation, invisible at first glance, magnificently rounded this event. The participants were able to work together in an open and creative environment and were provided with an opportunity to experience various potential-releasing methods, as well as concrete methods of the individual steps of the innovation process. Simultaneously, a team was forming, at first comprised of randomly selected members, then developing its own dynamics; we were able to observe and encompass the dynamics of the group as well as the evolution of the game, experience the effects of changes in the organisation of the space to improve personal well-being, cooperation, etc. The experience of this complexity was wonderful. This combination of learning and co-creating was a true quantum leap." 
Photo: Participant of the Conference Sonja Klopčič
Source: Pina Maja Bulc

Designing the prototype (invention)

The central aim of the Prototype (Invention) phase was to break down the idea into manageable basic building blocks and verify whether our approach to the challenge (business model) worked at all. Since we were at a conference and could not try out an actual test offer in the field we used simulation tools with which we designed a business model and checked whether it was visually/physically achievable (whether or not all the necessary elements were connected, whether their relationships were suitable, etc.). The key question the participants needed to answer in this node was: Can this problem be solved? Is our idea implementable? 

Photo: Implementation of technique "Method U – System Sculpting"
Source: Pina Maja Bulc

Vesna Kovačič, SrCi Institute Maribor, moderator of the Method U for designing a prototype: "To me, this Experiential Conference represented an experience of spontaneous and playful learning. The  Method U returns the focus back onto ourselves and allows us to touch our deeper personal levels and activate our inner potential. Learning through gamification was useful, relaxed and entertaining." 

VIDEO 5 : Conference participant
"Today's event was a truly unique experience, we met many new people and gained many new experiences. We worked deeply on some of the methods that I'm less familiar with and this gave me a new perspective. It was certainly helpful to have an underlying theme, the story of Robin Hood that was used in the game, to tie the activities together."

Marjetka Kastner, Conference participant: "Although I'm quite used to the fact that Violeta always 'surprises' you with new ways of finding solutions, I could not help but feel astonished yesterday. Problem-solving through gamification is not only an interesting, entertaining and creative method, but it's also very effective. I believe that this approach to developing and finding solutions for the business world has opened new horizons to other participants as well. I hope you will continue developing creative ideas and I thank Violeta and the whole team for a truly magnificent event."

Photo: Representatives of organization Beyond Leadership with Violeta Bulc
Source: Pina Maja Bulc


VIDEO 6: Daniela Taleh, Beyond Leadership Austria:
"My experience with this workshop is that it is not about brainstorming, it is about "heart-storming".

Photo: Detail of spatial arrangement
Source: Pina Maja Bulc
Polona Pergar Guzaj, Conference participant: "I had great expectations for this conference, but it's was actually even better than expected – completely different to what we're used to and I'm looking forward to future interactions of this kind and I hope they are as effective as this one. The participants had the opportunity to get to know each other well... and it's wonderful that we were able to learn about several different methods. My only criticism of the conference is that we weren't able to try all methods.

VIDEO 7 : Conference participant
"Today's conference was truly unique, completely different with respect to being introduced to new methods and learning through play. I think this is an excellent idea for the business world."

Ivana Davidović, participant: "Curiosity has brought together managers, entrepreneurs and individuals from various fields and with various interests and characters in one place. Through group work, we joined our forces in finding solutions to the presented plot in an innovative way. With transitions from one method to another, more and more ideas arose, but also questions and doubts challenging some of the conclusions we have previously formed together. The team started working together in perfect timing without pressure. Each next method acquainted us with new approaches to work in different areas and stimulated the desire to improve and integrate knowledge. We were already familiar with some of the methods, others were new to us. However, selected and condensed in this manner they were effective in an entirely new manner. Using gamification, the innovative concept of this conference kept us at our best at all times. A simulation of an innovative process combines dreams, knowledge and teamwork. It opens up room for boldness and the belief that we can find solutions together. This was a truly remarkable experience to have in a single day."

Photo: Implementation of  spirital technique
Sorce: Pina Maja Bulc


The background of the entire Conference was a business game based on the story of Robin Hood that was adapted to the jargon and challenges of the business world. The activities as a whole simultaneously served as a demonstration of the gamification/playification method with several twists in the plot, carefully selected additional information, misleading information, etc., all of which was used to simulate the everyday market conditions in which innovations must be developed.

VIDEO 8: Sonja Šmuc, Conference conductor, Executive Director of the Managers' Association of Slovenia
"Gamification requires a contextual frame. We chose the well-known story of Robin Hood simply to have a common topic for discussing innovation instead of each individual bringing their own idea and challenge as this would make finding a common ground very difficult. If the participants are presented with the same background story, the process is easier for them as they are concentrating on the story, its challenges and finding solutions. They can later repeat the process they went through by simply replacing Robin Hood with ‘I, Inc.’."

Blaž Branc, Baltazar marketing, co-author of the gamification concept: "The Robin Hood experiential leap: The gamification of the educational event, entitled "From Inspiration To Innovation", was a demanding and daring achievement; the processes of 1) creation – basic design of the conference (as an experiential event), and 2) gamification were partly simultaneous. Now, I see that gamification was absolutely necessary as we needed a common challenge for the participants to address through teamwork. The challenge was provided through a narrative ( the story of Robin Hood) that was amended with a few game elements (game world, teams, canvas, and elements of a live action role-playing game). The participants and organisers confirmed already during the process that the educational and game elements of the conference formed a meaningful context and provided everyone with an engaging and involving playground in which an inventive result was almost unavoidable."


Organisation Committee: Violeta Bulc (idea/innovation), Blaž Branc (gamification), Sonja Šmuc (marketing), Tanja Maljevac (space), Petra Treven Bernat (moderators), Bogo Seme (energy potential)

Management of the environment and rules:

Conference host: Violeta Bulc
Conference conductor: Sonja Šmuc
Conference coordinators: Kaja Rangus, Petra Svetina, Petra Jerina
Resources management: Barbara Ogrinc
Narrator (video summary): Filip Bračevac
Photography: Pina Maja Bulc
Spatial energy management: Bogo Seme, Jože Žmavc, Urška Lan, Alex Lan
Physical space and atmosphere management: Raphael Duret-Nauche, Andreja Cepuš, Tanja Maljevac, Barbara Viki Šubic, Špela Kuhar, Uroš Zajec
Game management: Blaž Branc, Gregor Kamnikar
Volunteers: Žiga Bulc, Eva Reichmann

Photo: Andreja Cepuš in Raphael Duret-Nauche
Source: Pina Maja Bulc
Holder and moderator of the IDEA node: Marjeta Novak
Holders of the innovation process in the designing a conceptual solution (idea):

1. The Power of Connecting, integrative method by Beyond Leadership: Tičo Zupančič
2. Brainstorming: Mateja Drnovšek
3. Lateral thinking: Nastja Mulej
Photo: "The Power of Connecting" technique
Source: Pina Maja Bulc
Holder and moderator of the INVENTION node: Petra Treven Bernat
Holders of the innovation process in designing a prototype (invention):

1. LEGO simulation: Tadej Pugelj
2. Method U – System Sculpting: Resolving 'stuck' situations through spontaneous (intuitive) responses of the group: Vesna Kovačič
3. Dragon's Dreams: Helena Černej and Špela Kuhar

Photo: LEGO simulation
Source: Pina Maja Bulc
Holder and moderator of the INNOVATION node: Tadej Petek
Holders of the innovation process in understanding the needs and the value created for the market (innovation):

1. Customer segmentation according to the MABS method: Mojca Štepic
2. Running Lean: customer interviews: Geni Arh and Meta Arh
3. Business model canvas: Marko Savić
Photo:  Business model canvas
Source: Pina Maja Bulc
Inspiration methods holders:
1. 4D Method: Darja Cvek Mihajlović
2. Establishing and harmonising intent: Breda Kovačec Mencej
3. Somatic awakening: Aleš Kranjc Kušlan

Photo: Exhibition of result
Source: Pina Maja Bulc

We are GRATEFUL to the Slovenian business community and thank everyone for being able to do these exciting things. Onward to new creativity...


Monday, June 9, 2014

Experiential conference on the wings of gamification

The idea for an experiential conference is the result of frustration and boredom. Attending conferences has become a tedious task for me, both as a participant and as a lecturer. As a participant I am sometimes excited by certain lecturers with interesting stories and experience.
CHALLENGE: tediousness; the passive role of the listener or lecturer at meetings/trainings.
However, I am discouraged by the essential structure of such events as they do not enable participation, exchange of opinions and first-hand experiences. I find that I'm learning most effectively from my own experience with a particular subject, but only if it makes me feel excitement for something new and if it challenges my comfort zone. It is also nourishing to push the limits of my knowledge in an actual way, i.e. by comparisons with my personal experiences. Lecturing at conferences made me feel the same way. Apart from networking I usually have no opportunity to interact with the attendees and learn their views on my presented topics and their significance for them and their own environments.
IDENTIFIED NEED: a new type of professional meetings/conferences/trainings with experiential learning and exchange of experiences.
I soon realised this frustration was shared by others, too. Many of my colleagues experienced conferences, professional discussions, and trainings in a similar way. 

And so the idea for a new type of conference was born. A discussion led to a joint effort resulting in an experiential conference addressing the lack of awareness regarding the methods used for the dynamic development of the innovation process (link for I2 - post in Violeta's Blog) and the concept of gamification (link for gamification - post in Violeta's Blog), which already spurred significant interest when we first discussed it in January 2014.
Conference organisers: InCo Movement, Manager's Association of Slovenia, Slovenian Association of Facilitators, Architecture Centre, expert groups and individual experts (36 people directly involved in the realisation of the Conference).
This article describes the content of  our business innovation - the "Experiential Conference: From Inspiration To Innovation Through Gamification". This is a story that will be fully manifested on 12 th of June 2014. You are invited  to share its energy.

Photo 1: Model of experiential Conference "From inspiration to innovation", Ljubljana 2014

WHY? (What drove us in designing an experiential conference based on gamification?)

We wanted to:
• develop a non-technological innovation for application in conference activities; make the conference playful, experiential; involve all participants in the conference activities;
• provide the participants with a unique experience of a systemic (comprehensive) approach to the innovation process through 12 diverse methods;
• introduce the Slovenian business community to expert professionals who can be employed by organisations, institutions and individuals to help with the development of the innovation process;
• develop a commercial product for a new type of conference/workshop in accordance with  innovation and gamification principles.

Photo: Testing of the Conference's concept (part of the team),
Ljubljana, May 2014
Source: Vibacom
The idea of an experiential conference gathered together representatives from all key aspects of successful innovation  process: content (game) developers, method presenters, moderators, designers of the physical and energy space, authors of video and photography materials and volunteers who recognised the exciting nature of the idea. We share curiosity, the desire to discover something and contribute something to development and creative teamwork.

HOW? (The key basic elements for implementing an experiential conference):
The methods: The conference will present 12 different methods for the 4 key phases of the innovation process.
The roles: The organisers will assume 14 different roles for the Conference's successful execution.

Photo 2: Model of experiential Conference "From inspiration to innovation", Ljubljana 2014
The model: To ensure an active role of the participants at the conference we have developed a special "canvas" (a template of the business model of a strategic plan), which will be amended by the participants throughout the event/game.
The game: The background of the entire conference is a business game based on the story of Robin Hood that was adapted to the jargon and challenges of the business world. The activities as a whole will simultaneously serve as a demonstration of the gamification/playification method with several twists in the plot, carefully selected additional information, misleading information, etc., all of which will be used to simulate the everyday market conditions in which innovations must be developed.
The Teams: 9 teams of participants (strategists solving the Robin Hood challenge) will be simultaneously active at the conference; each team will act as a group of advisors who will, based on news from Sherwood, form a strategic plan for Robin to help him achieve his vision, throughout the conference.
The process: The innovation process is one of key elements of the innovation structure (I2 polinkaj na stran o I2). It is not relative to industry or structure (there are no significant differences depending on where it is applied - industry, local community, small business, NGO, research institute, educational institution, etc.). It addresses and supports the development of contextual elements that help us recognise the need for innovation and helps develop inspiration from thought to product, service or solution that is attractive to the market. The process of the conference is divided into 4 key sections representing the four phases of the innovation process and events connecting these phases into a whole (the drafting of an idea, design of a prototype, market manifestation/identifying the needs and central activity in the market).
The environment: The organisation and the physical and energy tools of specific parts of the environment support the context and process of the event taking place in it.
Additional elements: The environment and activities will be supported with game elements that will help create an experiential atmosphere of the plot.
The rules: The rules of the event defining appropriate relationships between all participants.
Accompanying activities: In addition to the innovation process, the conference will offer several additional activities that will support the authenticity of the experience and help participants understand the challenges they will be faced with.
The schedule: The most classical aspect of the conference, which however also contains hidden dynamic elements and helps establish a connection between the conference experience and real life.

Photo 3: Model of gamification

The elements of the conference are based on the philosophy of participative leadership, cooperation, co-creation and active participation of all community members. It promotes the principles of inclusion, respect of diversity, equal representation of opinions, proposals and views of all community/team/game members.

1st experiential conference in Slovenia: From inspiration to innovation (Experiential conference through 12 techniques)
WHEN: 12th of June 2014 at 8 a.m.
WHERE: Ljubljana

WHAT (Which topics will the Conference address and what are its key outcomes?):

The contents produced by the project groups through gamification will serve as the basis for learning about different methods for successful implementation of an innovation process.

The content is divided into the following basic sections:
- gamification of the Robin Hood tale: the concept of the game and the philosophy of its application in the business environment with the aim of acquiring new competences through a simulation of a real-world environment; these competences are required in facing real-life challenges.
- the "canvas" model used by the team for preparing a final report (strategic plan): the canvas is used for the visualisation of the results and understanding of the key elements that need to be drawn from the story in the individual phases of the innovation process.
- the strategic plan: the final result of gamification presented to Robin Hood at the end of the Conference in the form of "recommendations from the Sherwood advisors"; based on these reports Robin will chose who will assist him in his decisions in the future.

Photo 4: Kanvas for gamification

I am certain that the event before us will be unique. Everything that will happen, is experienced and internalised, or will flourish, is a part of the story as a whole. And that's exactly how it should be. That's how our life is - unpredictable, exciting and open to new things. Join us and experience the process of innovation through innovation itself. Equip yourself with modern tools and confidently seek the opportunities this modern age offers us.

Take care, Violeta

P.S.: the Experiential Conference 2014 is the result of open innovation of a large circle of individuals who have felt the need for something new and responded to the best of their abilities. We are sharing everything we have created during the past nine months on an open source principle - we are openly sharing it with the
community (with you)  that has enabled us to create it in the first place. Thank you!

How can we cooperate
Where can we meet globally?
  • Next BIN dogodek: BIN@SHEFFIELD, United Kingdom, 3rd - 5th November 2014
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