How GK VanPatter creates space through sensemaking for changemaking

Happyplaces Stories (video)

What we find in the business context, is that most of the people are having meetings every day and that they don’t understand what their ‘thinking preference’ is. These thinking preferences, even unaware, have been embedded into the company’s culture and values and even affect the physical environments the companies have created for themselves. In most cases, companies are out of balance: there are more folks that judge options than there are folks that generate options. So, if we’re going to define innovation in a way that includes everybody, wher it gives people space, then we need to have a more holistic definition of what innovation is. In 99% of the time, this is what is underneath the problem that a company has.
Garry in his office in NYC, April 2012
This can go even into things like, who is in the meetings, who is sitting at the table, how things are being defined. But also the physical environment: think about a typical conference room. It has a big table in the center and big comfy chairs. We call that a room to present existing ideas. That is not a room to create ideas in that you don’t yet have. For that, you need an informal setting, places where people can interact like a café. If we go there to work with companies in this matter, we oftentimes have to go outside because those kind of spaces do not exist within those companies. Even if they have 100,000 people in the company.

I got into contact with Garry in a quite unusual way. I was asked to make a contribution to the first international edition of a magazine. The theme was ‘New Dutch Masters’. I decided to make a series of 8 inspired by a quote from the Dutch writer Ivo Victoria, and my daughter Susa. Ivo had a blog post about his daughter saying:

They say sometimes that she has my eyes, I’m proud of that. But of course, I’d rather have hers.

Quote by Ivo Victoria, model is Susa — for Blend magazine

What I never really realised is that an international magazine means that it is released, ehm, internationally, also in New York. As with anything, most of the times when you made the deadline, you forget about it. Because the job is done. The mission completed. You’re on to the next mission.

But a few days after the international release I received an e-mail by a certain GK VanPatter, who inquired about the series in the magazine. When I looked him up on the internet, I learned more about the line of work he was in. He turned out to be an internationally recognized innovation capacity building advisor and design thinking visionary. I decided I wanted to learn more from him. About how he, as co-founder of Humantific, creates space within multi-disciplinary teams. And how to build inclusive innovation cultures, where everyone in the team feels and has the space to participate. Through Sensemaking for changemaking as Humantific calls it.