The second RAMSES training workshop took place in Cairo from 6.-12.6.2015 and was performed by Dr. Michael Boronowsky from the Innovation Capability Center, University Bremen. The first goal for this training session was to give an introduction to the collaboration tools that were selected for the RAMSES project. A shared document space in the cloud and several shared Google-sheets are used to synchronize the trainings and the “homework”.
Dr. Michael Boronowsky introduces innoSPICE at Cairo University
One of these sheets has a representation of the innoSPICE model and the trainees will develop “translation” and explanations of the different processes and practices in the terminology and specific cultures of their faculties during the project. The innoSPICE training started with a set of pictures showing different collection of gears. Dr. Boronowsky explained the analogies of these assemblies with different types of organization. Another set of pictures showing plugs and devices was used to illustrate the relation of individual skills and the capability of an organization.
The innoSPICE training was focussing to improve the self study capabilities of the trainees. General difficulties for the trainees are to deal with the very abstract process descriptions and to relate them to real world process implementations. Dr. Boronowsky explained the motivation and the need of the abstraction in the standard based innoSPICE model, followed by a very active discussion of the group. To understand the meaning of a process it is important to catch the intention why such a function might be important inside an organization. The descriptions of the process purpose or the individual base practices of a process are similar to the text of a law. A law often should allow to regulate certain behaviour in an abstract fashion. If it is too concrete, it will only be valid for the concrete case described in the law. So a law will generally be formulated to be valid for a certain class of cases, even for future ones. To understand a law it needs an interpretation. And to have a good interpretation for a law it is helpful to know the intention of the law, to realize why this specific regulation became relevant for society. Similar things can be said about the process descriptions in the innoSPICE model. And like a law – the intention is not written as part of the law, maybe it is documented or research work for historians. As innoSPICE is based on standard procedures in innovation, knowledge- and technology transfer it is much easier to derive the intention of the process.
Part of the RAMSES team at Cairo University
The important learning goal for this training workshop is to motivate the trainees to think about the intention of the process and to use the available process descriptions to develop the requirements to fulfill this intention. This way the group work became very complex with several longer debates. The current training will help to increase the efficiency of these discussions in the future.
A second help for a better analysis of the individual processes was given during the training. Several processes are based on a similar pattern in the order of the base practices – they follow a Plan-Do-Check-and Act cycle. E.g. the innoSPICE Process DEV 5 (Prototype Development) – Base Practice BP1-BP4 are concentrated on the planning of the prototype, BP6-BP6 are related to the design and implementation of a prototype (so the “doing”) and BP7-BP8 are about test and evaluation (Check) and BP9-BP10 are preparing at least the improvement of the prototype (so a not fully implemented “Act”). The awareness of such a pattern is an important support in understanding the process. In addition a second pattern was presented, that can be found e.g. in TTD1 (Technology Transfer Concept). In this process the base practices are requiring the collection of individual information (BP1-BP7) and the last practice BP8 is the aggregation of the information that is collected before in a report (here BP8 – the technology transfer concept).
Beside this general aspects during the workshop DEV1 (Knowledge Creation Project Proposal Preparation). In this process there was a discussion e.g. to whom a proposal is submitted and other aspects like “according to programs objective” was clarified. DEV5 Prototype development was broadly discussed and the different types of prototypes were introduced (e.g. scientific prototype vs. industrial prototype). It was summarized, that a prototype is also a tool for communication with potential stakeholders – it is different to the prototype that was e.g. developed during the research. The prototype on DEV5 has the goal to transform the results into the context of an application, illustrating a function that is enabled by the research result. As the Technology Transfer Concept (TTD1) is very fundamental in the transfer chain and the trainees had several open questions, this process became the base for further discussions. Michael used this process and draw the relation to the prototype development process, to illustrated that these processes are in correspondence. It shows that there are interfaces between knowledge developer (the scientist) and the transfer drivers (e.g. technology transfer officers) – as prototype development can be supported by e.g. technology transfer office supporting the definition of features , definition of target groups etc. Same applies to knowledge creation processes DEV2,3,4.
The training workshop also had sessions with group work. The trainees were asked to present their descriptions of the TTD1 (Technology Transfer Concept) process. The groups were structured according to the different faculties and the individual presentation of the results made clear, that parts of the group were still oriented too strong in the wording of the process but the very active and intense discussion slowly generated the understanding that the intention of the process is the better guide to learn the details of the processes. The fourth day of the workshop started with a detailed discussion of the Work Environment process. The trainees developed a good understanding of this process quickly. Beside this several genreal aspects were discussed in this context, like:
- Every process needs an responsible process owner. That does not mean that this person has to implement all practices. He or she has the responsibility to manage the process and ensure proper operation.
- Several innoSPICE processes distinguish between maintenance of the plan and maintenance e.g. of the working environment (so the implementation of the plan). It is important not to mix it up, as people maybe are aware to maintain the thing they directly connected with (like the work environment) but are not clear about update of the general plan.
- To perform an assessment of an process you have not to be an full expert in the area being assest.
- The processes in the innoSPICE model are a decomposition of activities within an organization related to innovation, knowledge- and technology transfer. According to the specific distribution of work and responsibilities within an organization, several innoSPICE processes can be (partially) executed by a single person in the organization.
After this lightweight introduction for starting the day the trainees were facing the toughest challenge. The plan for this day was focused on the introduction to the universe of the Technology Transfer Driver processes (TTD1-TTD13). Even if the level of detail was very reduced it was hard stuff. The trainer Michael decided to give this introduction to explain how the individual processes are related to the innovation funnel. The individual processes have different functions at different phases of the innovation funnel. To understand the processes it is important to understand the innovation funnel and when a process is generally applied. However, the lecture was recorded, and Michael was referring several times that the trainees can look at the details again in the video. But he also promised to write down the details later on and make it available. The trainer had recommend the group to look for and study literature in the area of:
- Innovation Managment (eg. http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-EHEP003053.html)
- Market and Competitive Analysis
- Go to Market estimation
- Value proposition statement
- Business plan and business case development
On the last day of the Workshop it is planned to discuss another 2-3 processes of the process reference model. Even if there is still a long way to go, the huge interest of the trainees in the particular topics and the active discussion of all participants is a positive motivation for the trainer but also for the trainees.
Meeting at the presidents office. Prof. Nasser (middle), Prof. Ewiss (right) and Dr. Boronowsky (left)
The very intense workshop ended with a visit at the president office of Cairo University. Prof. Mohamed Ewiss and Dr. Michael Boronowsky informed the President Prof. Dr. Gaber Gad Nassar and the General Secretary of Cairo University, Yousry Ibrahim, about the progress of the RAMSES project. It was reported, that the trainees are very motivated and that they are very expertised to relate the processes in the innoSPICE model to the operation in the different faculties. According to the current state of discussion the innoSPICE approach is very suitable to be applied in the structures of Cairo University. The RAMSES project runs under direct responsibility of Prof. Nassar and he was satisfied about the state of implementation. It was agreed to communicate the RAMSES project also on a higher political level, as this project has the potential to generate an impact to the structure of the science system in Egypt.