Work hard, play hard. From 40 individuals to 1 group!

It’s Saturday afternoon now, which means the study trip in The Netherlands has almost come to an end. This afternoon, the teams are working hard to finish their working plan that they will present to their coaches to receive feedback. For the last 5 days, all teams have worked very hard to make sure they are fully prepared for the study trip to Ghana. Even though the first signs of fatigue are starting to show, the participants are dedicated to finish their work. Later today, a well-deserved barbecue and the so-called Dutch night is waiting for them. And then it is time to relax and reminisce about the past week we have had together. Let us take you back…

Idea generation
After the company visits on Tuesday, it was time to start the creative process. Emile and Vincent, both experts in creative thinking, gave an inspiring workshop on how to generate ideas and think out-of-the-box. With a simple exercise (draw a chair in 5 seconds), Emile showed how thinking within the box is what 95% of us normally do. “It was a real eye-opener to me” one of the Ghanaian participants commended on the workshop. Several tools were handed out to help teams to come up with as many ideas as they could. One of these tools was the ‘yes, but…’ card, which was introduced by Emile and can be used within groups to encourage idea generation. This tool became a real household item over the last couple of days. “When my team mate showed me the Ýes, but…’ card, I realised I often say ‘yes, but…’ instead of ‘yes, and…’. Therefore I might block creative thinking, instead of stimulating it”, one of the participants concluded.

Working plan
Part of the creative thinking was converging the many ideas into a concept. The teams selected their best ideas which helped them to formulate hypotheses to test once they are in Ghana. Because there is only limited time, the teams are asked to come up with a solid plan that will guide them throughout their study trip in Ghana. Friday and Saturday were all about making a working plan. Not only the coaches were there to assist, also alumni were available to share their experiences on preparing the field trips in Ghana. Now the working plan is almost finished, it is great to see how teams have collaborated and came up with inventive ways of using data and planning appointments with stakeholders or other involved parties.

Time to say goodbye
After a week of working very closely together, the 40 participants have become a real group. Not only within the teams, the positive spirit is sensible, also the group as a whole is full of positive energy. Working hard is combined with lots of laughing, playing pool, Ghanaian dancing, singing together while someone plays the piano and even a movie night has been organised. Tonight they will celebrate the successful ending of this week. Luckily, they do not have to say goodbye yet. Tomorrow the group will travel to Amsterdam to go Plastic Fishing in Amsterdam. After that, a city tour will tell them everything about the history of this beautiful old city. The study trip in The Netherlands will officially end with a nice dinner in the centre of Amsterdam. Then, it is really time to say goodbye… but not for long! Only 8 days later they will meet again in Accra.

Ghana, here we come!

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