Be aware of the flowers (in the sandpit)

A couple of years ago I helped facilitate an NERC sandpit which I thought was a brilliant approach to solving intractible problems, and so was intrigued by this story last week about a similar approach on the Times Higher Education website.

Research Intelligence – flowering in the sandpit tells of probably the most important intractible challenge we have:

“If you could convert photosynthesis into a really efficient process, the benefits for the world would be enormous.”

Sandpits bring together a wide range of researchers to promote new thinking in previously intractable areas, aided by professional facilitators and academic mentors.

I particularly like the anecdotal fragment from one of the participants that he was:

impressed by the facilitators’ ability to strip away researchers’ preconceived ideas and send them “back to the drawing board to see what we could come up with as teams”.

I am so jealous, I would love to spend my time facilitating away such important issues, I now have so many of the worlds best innovation and problem solving  tools from so many of the worlds best tool boxes it seems such a shame to be keeping them in plastic boxes in our loft.


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