As an RDI specialist, one of my main tasks is to organise information sessions for introducing staff members, experts of various areas and topics, to upcoming funding calls. During these sessions, the emphasis is on presenting the information so that the participants are able to process it and at the same time get them interested to apply for project funding with the proposed instrument.
These information sessions are beneficial and play an important role in enhancing Haaga-Helia’s research culture. When asked for feedback on these sessions, participants describe them as interactive, interesting, informative, well prepared, easy to follow, convincing pitching, inspiring, clear and very interesting. Very detailed processes need to be explained understandably, building an overall picture of each different call. An understanding needs to be reached on different applications for one call needing different solutions, not to compete with each other. Proactivity is the acceptable mode in these sessions. People need to want to get involved and to feel engaged.
As you can see, the pressure of successful information sessions is very much on the RDI specialist. Not only does he/she have to do the homework to be able to answer questions and queries on the funding instrument and possibilities around it. Regional policies and strategies also need to be considered. Additionally, in the intent to help, support and coach, the RDI specialist needs to be a professional facilitator. Listening and asking without ever letting go of the focus at hand.
However, I have come to understand that these information sessions have a second valuable functionality as bringing people together expands the attention beyond individual learning to collaborative learning, knowledge sharing and co-creation.
One of the common barriers that prevails in many organisations, is the mentality of knowledge being regarded as an individual’s private asset, possession and competitive advantage. This makes people hesitant to share information and results in information hoarding. Contrary to this, I see our information sessions as a platform to break this barrier and to engage participants in knowledge sharing and co-creation. The sessions are opportunities for each to learn new things and increase understanding and as participants get involved, they all benefit from the interaction.
Overall, in my opinion, the only way to enable sharing of knowledge is by bringing people together through collaboration. Thus, information sessions might play a key role in nurturing knowledge sharing and co-creation within an institutional setting like Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences.