I was approached by THNK in late 2012 about facilitating an ideation workshop for a group of 30 participants in Amsterdam. I had heard about the school earlier that year at the Picnic festival, but hadn't investigated. Apparently some of the faculty had seen my Envisioning technology infographics and thought to invite me over and adapt the research into a more tactile format.
In January 2013 I found myself in a freezing Amsterdam with a class of participants from all over the globe, who had flown in to spend a week together deepening their entrepreneurial skills and self development. Over the holidays I worked closely with the faculty to transform the on-screen technology signals into physical cards, together with a short keynote presentation introducing the research and hands-on exercises for participants to use the cards with.
Everything came together wonderfully and I had an incredibly engaging few days hanging out with Class 2 at Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam.
A few months later I was invited back to repeat the process with Class 3 – this time focused on a different set of global challenges – and spent another week (this time in summer) getting to know participants and faculty better. This time I received an invitation to join the upcoming class as a participants. My journey bootstrapping Envisioning had only just begun, and they suggested growing my efforts together with the school, the best way of which was to join the (paid) program. I said yes.
Class 4 began a few months later with an early-morning busride starting at Central Station. Me, 30 participants and school staff were driven out to the nearby docks, where we were to board a small ship. Once on the ship we learned our destination was an island in the northern Netherlands, which would take us a couple of hours to reach.
Arriving at the island we performed a traditional dutch mudwalk (Wadlopen) which entails walking in knee-deep water for hours on end. All while getting to know your fellow participants and bonding. After arriving at our destination, we then spent days properly getting to know ourselves, and each other. Through a series of powerful exercises and coaching sessions, each of us were broken down into fine dust and recomposed. The rest of the week was spent in Amsterdam with an overwhelming daily schedule of exercises, workshops, lectures and collaboration. I remember coming back home from class, trying to sleep, and feeling my head like a radio antenna picking up fragments of ideas and speech. It is hard to describe how intellectually intense the THNK program was, and how impactful.
The next 3 modules took place over the following semester. Each a week in Amsterdam following a 12 hour flight from São Paulo. Neither an easy nor an affordable proposition, but an incredibly valuable one. The program walked us through important aspects of becoming a leader, and developing a socially responsible businesses. I was introduced to hundreds of remarkable participants, faculty members and guests. Each with a story, a mission and boundless curiosity.
Following my participation I remained closely tied to THNK in many ways. In Amsterdam I was invited back to teach the "technology thinking" module with the next dozen classes, each time refining our methodology and design approach. Lisbon and Vancouver saw the creation of local chapters by fearless female leaders who tried bringing the THNK approach to different markets, and each invited me over to teach the module with some of their participants. I was also repeatedly invited to facilitate and present to THNK in-company programs with clients in the Netherlands and worldwide.
I have only praise for THNK and its network. My experience was exceptionally positive and have remained involved with the organization through its different phases of leadership. I have made countless life-long friends and collaborators, and recognize that Envisioning owes a lot to the exposure received by collaborating with THNK.
Below are a couple of snapshots which hopefully capture the spirit of the experience.