A Participative Webinar with Saskia Tjepkema and Martijn Van Ooijen

 In Webinars

Saskia Tjepkema and Martijn van Ooijen are consultants and facilitators with Kessels & Smit, The Learning Company (K&S), a
consulting firm in the Netherlands. Recently, K&S responded to a request from the National Government of the Netherlands to host generative dialogues with citizens on the topic “What will we need to rebuild after the Covid crisis, and what innovations do we want to keep?” The purpose was twofold: (a) to enable people across different ‘bubbles’ to learn from and energise each other, and (b) to collect ideas for the Government for how to move on after the crisis. Together with their colleagues, Saskia and Martijn set up 80 dialogues with citizens across the Netherlands. They invited Mayors and Aldermen to host these dialogues, which were all held online with groups of 15 people who came from different parts of the country. Citizens told each other stories about their own experiences during Covid and about their hopes and dreams for the future ‘after the crisis’. They talked about topics such as happiness, health, nature and climate, work and so on.

Participants also thought of ideas on how to repair the damage done by the virus and the restrictions, and how to keep the good things that
came from these trying times. In addition to the direct impact on hosts and participants, the project also produced a database of stories
from which themes were derived for the government report. A second smaller Covid project occurred just before Christmas. This time, the topic was “How could we learn to live with the virus in the country in the long run?” Chief Civil Servants engaged in eleven online dialogues held with people from different sectors, the building industry, healthcare, food service, education, science etc. One of the
questions was, “What is it that you would like to protect most in this new long term strategy?”

During our interview with Saskia and Martijn, we will ask them what they learned about how to conduct these dialogues, what they
learned from the citizens, and how the government responded to the ideas that the dialogues produced. A fascinating story!

Saskia Tjepkema engages in diverse projects, including team and individual coaching, organizational development, and action research.
All of her work in organizations is about learning, innovation, and change. She has (co)written several books, including “Appreciative Inquiry as a Daily Leadership Practice,” a favorite methodology she uses in her work.

Martijn van Ooijen engages in several types of development and change work in teams and organizations. His work focuses on the role of
narratives and story in these processes; also the theme of his Ph.D. research on change at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He is one of the authors of Imperfect Advisor: a set of personal stories of consultants.