Adept Principles Are Useful For Making Sense of Collective Learning

I recently facilitated an exciting event where over 90 scientists and science communicators gathered to consider how they might work together. The content of their various research initiatives covered the full spectrum of complex challenges facing most countries in the world. These include climate change, natural disasters, high-value nutrition, biodiversity, sustainable seas, technological innovation, early childhood, ageing well, primary sector production and housing.

As you could imagine, with this range of topics and number of people, there was a wealth of experience in the room. There were many insightful moments during the day as people shared and listened to each other. My challenge as a facilitator was to somehow summarise the wisdom of this diverse collective in ten minutes or so. OK?!

I reflected that perhaps the ADEPT principles that we at Twyfords use to guide our beliefs and way of working could be a useful frame for a summary. This proved to be the case.

The following is a shortened version of the summary I did for the event. The commentary with each principle derives from the participants’ discussions at the event. I did the retrofitting of the participants’ wisdom to the ADEPT principles.

In taking on the opportunities and challenges of operating collaboratively, researchers and science communicators must become ADEPT.


– Need to look for successes. See what is working now.
– NOT reinvent the wheel.
– Ask questions. Learn what motivates people.


– Having diversity is crucial to conversations.
– Must embrace diversity where-ever possible.
– Diversity can be found within individuals who can wear many hats and leverage this.


– It is okay to get things wrong along the way.
– Because we can’t predict what will happen, we need to     take risks and be prepared for some messiness and uncertainty.


– Relationships formed by participation are essential.
– Make networks, foster networks and listen to networks.
– Make conversations horizontal not vertical.


– Quality engagement takes time.
– Need to “thicken the conversation on the common ground”.

The event demonstrated a real willingness to move away from Business as Usual and towards a collaborative mode of operating. There was also a recognition of the challenges of operating collaboratively within an environment of contestability and competitive drivers.

Overall this gathering proved to me yet again that there is very exciting collaborative thinking and collaborative practice going on in New Zealand. With all this practice, our collaborative fitness is bound to be improving which means a greater chance of desirable outcomes for NZ Inc. Exciting!

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