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Green Innovative Ideas Open Jam Workshop

Money cannot buy good ideas. Innovation is a trend, but where does inspiration come from? To find out, we organized the “Green Innovative Ideas Open Jam Workshop” on 25th February. Facilitated by the International Association of Facilitators (“IAF”)-Hong Kong Chapter, a professional association for the promotion and coaching of facilitation, the workshop aimed to lead participants into the real experience of creative thinking, and to meet like-minded people in order to “jam” green ideas together.

Before the Workshop started, participants tried their hands on various creative games at different booths as a mental warm up. At the “Asset Mapping” session that followed, participants wrote down environmental issues which they knew best and cared most, along with their own skills, so that they could find like-minded team mates more easily. In the “Jam a Creative Scenario” session, participants divided themselves into groups for discussion. Group members made the best use of the knowledge, passion and skills of one another, and through a ‘think-out-of-the-box’ mindset, created ideas on various green businesses or projects together. Despite time pressure, novel ideas such as “Green Elderly Soldiers”, “Packaging Gone”, “Green Communities Everywhere”, as well as bespoke eco-design companies, all of which were amazing ideas!

The afternoon session was devoted to the practice of  “Open Space Technology” (OST) after the moderator explained its concept and process to all participants. In an OST session, there is no need for a moderator. Anyone with an idea can initiate a discussion with those with an interest in that topic. The number of discussion sessions will depend on the number of conveners. The four principles of OST are: (1) whoever comes is the right person; (2) whatever happens is what happens; (3) whenever it starts, it is the right time; and (4) when it’s over, it’s over. On top of these principles, all participants must observe the “Law of Two Feet”, i.e., if a participant thinks that he/she cannot make any contribution to the discussion nor learn anything from it, he/she should leave and seek other topics of his/her own interest. Participants shall enjoy a high degree of freedom; they can choose to be a hardworking bee or a relaxed butterfly. The most important thing they should bear in mind is to be passionate, responsible and to uphold a positive attitude toward creativity.

When participants eventually came forward with their pet subjects on the environment, the moderator drew up a schedule for these discussions. Different discussion teams soon took up all corners of the hall, with many “butterflies” and “bees” flying around! Topics under discussion included sustainable event planning, new ideas of eco-tourism, public air monitoring, food waste reduction and recycling upgrade, green travel and many more. The hall was instantly filled up with energy and a heated atmosphere. Such open and free atmosphere encouraged participants to express their ideas and explore different topics. Whenever a convener raised a problem, the others were eager to give a helping hand and to search for a solution together. Although there weren’t many instant solutions, it was a good beginning in finding them.

Towards the end of the Workshop, all conveners posted their meeting minutes on the wall. The participants were then invited to mark and comment on the ideas they liked with stickers provided to them. Their feedback gave great encouragement to the conveners. On reflection, many participants considered this facilitation format novel and effective. Some participants appreciated the freedom of movement and the freedom of expression it offered. Others considered this mode of discussion helpful when turning ideas into practical plans. Many participants shared the view that these activities have allowed them to interact with people from different background, which contributed to multi-dimensional creativity.

With a step-by-step workflow design, this “Open Jam” workshop has helped to unleash the power of creativity from potential green entrepreneurs. We hope that the participants will eventually put their innovative ideas into practice and contribute to building a low carbon Hong Kong.