JOB SHADOWING for lifelong learning & qualitative research —01

6 min readDec 23, 2019


What topics have we explored at Sitra? / Job Shadowing at SITRA

Image 01: Pinja Parkkonen from SITRA’s Foresight & Insight

Each year we make sure to take a month or two to engage ourselves in projects that purely educate us, bring new perspectives and motivation. As a transdisciplinary team of strategists, designers, facilitators, and educators we get inspired by interacting with others. We crave to regularly step out of our daily practice to better understand the complexities of working with change. At Change Pilots, our key curiosity constantly lays in the areas of systems thinking, social innovation as well as circular design and sustainability. All the above brought us to the one-of-a-kind experience told in the story below

Image 01: Three of our pilots — Paweł, Justyna, Henryk, together with Lia from KobieTy NGO

In the October 2019, three of our pilots — Paweł, Justyna, and Henryk, together with Lia from KobieTy NGO, had a chance to spend 5 days shadowing members from various teams at Sitra, run a Design Safari workshop to share our tools as well as mentor teams at the Future Visions Hackathon. Sitra is a worldwide unique organization — a future innovation think-do-and connect-tank and innovation fund found by the Finnish government over 50 years ago. Sitra’s role as a future-oriented fund involves creating preconditions for reform, spurring everyone towards making a change and providing opportunities for cooperation. What it means in practice is that Sitra investigates, explores and develops operating models in close cooperation with other responsible operators to support public administration.

What topics have we explored at Sitra? Over 5 days we have engaged in a set of intensive working meetings with outstanding teams to better understand their line of work, processes, and tools as well as hopes and challenges in the following areas:

01Foresight, Insight & Strategy

With this team, we have discussed working with the social and economic change as well as the role, practical use & pace of future predictions and planning. Especially interesting was not the foreseeing itself, but the strategies to communicate on change and recommendations on future steps. Crucial points related to challenges in communicating solutions and optimistic point-of-view or using reader-centered as well as the universal human language of stories and visuals. We highly recommend you download one of Sitra's insightful reports.

Also, one of the key topics we all of us were excited to discuss with this team was Impact Evaluation and attempt to constantly evaluate Sitra ongoing project, reflect and use the collected data for concluding arguments and continuous learning. It was one of the most outstanding engagements in the area of organization input, outcome, output and impact assessment we have ever seen. There are several articles and publications available at Sitra’s website.

Image 01: Megatrends cards / Image 02: Reviewing Megatrends Cards

02On going Megatrend work

A part Foresight and Insight team that specializes in long-term change foresight. Here we had a chance to discuss the practical use the Megatrend Cards which Sitra uses to communicate and engage with a wider audience. Our team has immediately prototyped and live-tested these tools during our Design Safari workshop for Sitra and have seen an opportunity to use them as consultants and facilitators to communicate long-term change. You may download Megatrend Cards set here.

03Sustainable Everyday Life.

The team behind this project has been working for the last 3 years on the approach to promote awareness and agency over everyday decisions in Finnish households. The project has also expanded to helping the business provide more competitive sustainable products and services on the market. If interested in the topic, you can find more resources on the topic at the Sustainable Everyday Life page by Sitra. In addition please take a look into the Anatomy of Action, a project led by our friend, Dr. Leyla Acaroglu, a UNEP Champion of the Earth.

04Circular Economy

Here we spoke to people behind one of the hottest topics right now and have discussed the big picture of the circular economy from the design perspective. In the end, as a classic industrial designer Victor Papanek has said, “there are professions more harmful than industrial design, but only a few”. Remembering that waste is a human invention, at Change Pilots we pay special attention to the societal, business and environmental impact of the design process. We highly recommend you to sign up and download Sitra’s Circular Economy Playbook discussing business models for Finnish SMEs in the manufacturing industries. We feel and have already discussed several examples from the Playbook could be ‘Polonized’ (adapted to the Polish economy). Sitra has also been the organizer and host of the 2019 World Circular Economy Forum, held in Helsinki where one of our pilots was present among 2200 other participants.

Image 01: Kalle Nieminen from Sitra Lab

05Sitra Lab

This is one of the top experiment and engagement based projects. The Lab is a concept recently tested in a real-life and brought interdisciplinary individuals who formed teams and prototyped solutions to top burning challenges. Each edition of the Lab takes one societal problem at the time often continuing Sitra’s foresight work in implementing training that has a societal impact. One of the key elements discussed was forms and depths of engagement, building the right working teams, forming self-sustained communities that continue after the project ends as well as the individual learning needs — for personal use and leading systems change. Read and explore this very young and fresh concept here.

06Future Capabilities in Finland

Here we have discussed the actions take to understand and strengthen the future thinking and foresight capabilities among various actors in Finnish society. We have had a great, insightful meeting in the framework of the upcoming project that both Sitra as well as Change Pilots and KobieTY could relate to the position of educators and facilitators. In this early stage concept development of the next new project at Sitra, we have spent most of our session on the hopes and challenges on training capabilities and passing on responsibility. Especially on framing the useful guidelines, tools and supporting agency of various stakeholders so they could outline the future in the ecosystems they have an impact on to build a vision towards a better tomorrow. If that topic gives you goosebumps as it gives to us, then you should read about the Futuremaker’s toolbox and the Sitra’s vision of the Next era of well-being.

Image 01: International Advisory Board Panel at SITRA

07International Advisory Panel

Last but not least, we have had the privilege to join the seasonal Sitra’s Advisory Board meeting, where we heard out presentations by the panelists on current social, geopolitical and economic changes. The panel consisted of the following experienced leaders: Aart de Geus, Chairman, and CEO at Bertelsmann Stiftung, Geoff Mulgan, Chief Executive at Nesta; Anders Wijkman the Vice President of the Club of Rome, Board Member of the Tällberg Foundation and of the Stockholm Resilience Center; Naoki Saito Riken Yokohama Campus director and NISTEP affiliated fellow and Ville Takala (in lieu of professor Mariana Mazzucato), Institute for Innovation & public purpose -Instituut, University College London (UCL).

There is no better way to learn about the pros and cons of the topics that Sitra works on than by seeing people behind the projects. Only in real-life encounters, we could have an honest conversation about the experiences, hopes, and challenges. In the end, as human-centered strategists and qualitative researchers, our “aha!” moments come from interaction with people and their stories.

>>> Read next part of the article 02 HERE >>>

#humancentereddesign #solutionbasedpsychology #circularthinking #systemthinking #servicedesign #longlifelearning #jobshadowing

#sitra #changepilots #changepilotsontour

Text: Henryk Stawicki, and Justyna Turek, co-founders of Change Pilots




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