Scientists go beyond their boundaries to gather cross-disciplinary wisdom.

In their effort to cultivate creative leaders who will usher in new scientific paradigms, Ulsan Science and Technology Institute (UNIST) gathers scientists in cross-disciplinary teams. 

One of their cross-disciplinary projects, Science Walden, asked GoWoon to facilitate a series of workshops to help them collaborate in a more effective way.

My business partner GoWoon invited me to research the day. So – early in the morning I found myself in Ulsan having coffee with a group of scientist from UNIST. I had been in Seoul several times before, but this was my very first official business trip, meeting potential partners and colleagues. 

As always, we started the day with a Check in. A simple exercise that breaks the pattern, goes beyond the boundaries of people’s mind and invites them to share. All participants are invited to talk about themselves and, in particular, their expectations for what is going to happen in the workshop – without any interruption or comments from the other participants. It is a strong tool to invite people to listen to each others state of being, without having to prepare any reaction while listening – maybe for the first time in their life!

First assignment: Create Storyline. The assignment was split in two – first; share what you experienced before today. Second; share what you would like to see happen after today.

Second assignment: Categorize and structure content from storyline. This way a group can recognize patterns in their organizational behaviour and develop a shared understanding of how this behaviour affects their collective achievements.

After lunch we started working with The Medicine Wheel Tool™. It is a simple process tool for individual and organizational reflection and development. It clarifies common purpose and goals, and allows us to diagnose where and why changes needs to be made. Not from the perspective of ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but rather in order to acknowledge the current situation – and to go beyond it. There is no room for judgement or blame, simply said; it is a tool to share individual truth and to create collective understanding.

Last assignment of the day was to draw up a shared action plan.

As we had started the day with the Check in, the day was rounded off with a Check out. Lots of laughter and fresh ideas were shared, as participants had attained new perspectives on the organisation during the day.

Since the participants of this group worked in different sectors within the same organisation, this day helped them create a collective overview.

In order for a group to make powerful decisions and achieve shared goals in the future, we started by creating space for them to understand their current path and situation first.