The complexity of our network society and the challenges ahead of us require new educational models to train students but also professionals to thrive in complex environments. Addressing complexity is not a journey one can do alone, neither from one discipline perspective only. As Theory U (Sharmer, 2007) suggests, education needs to be accessible to everyone, empowering (putting the learner into the driver's seat of profound personal, professional and societal renewal); and transformational (providing new learning environments that activate the deepest human capacities to create -both individually and collectively). Inspired by Theory U, connectivism, community of practices and design thinking, we have created our own model, the 4E-MODEL, to address wicked challenges and create societal value.
During our Value Creators semester, students use the E-Model to address complexity and guide the process of value creation. We have as well experimented with the model together with professionals, companies, local and national governments. We have developed a serious board game version of this model, which can be used by other organizations to address complex issues. If you have interest in knowing more about this method and training, discovering our board game, please contact us.
"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler". - Albert Einstein
Creating value with the E-Model
The 4E-Model is a practical tool that invites users to explore their roles as change agents by addressing complex issues such as the Sustainable Development Goals, which have also an impact at local level and inside of different organisations. The methodology, inspired by design thinking, is a simple compass to provide a flexible approach to complexity and create the space for generative dialogues. Together, you discover networks with power to set things into action. In that sense, it is more process focused than solution focused. The flexibility of this model allows users to apply the model to press-cooker sessions, really short in time, or extend the model through several months. If you are interested in experiencing how to work with it, we offer training and workshops that could help your organisation deal with complex issues. Please do not hesitate to contact us!
The process of value creation starts with exploring the complexity of the issue we are addressing. What are the possible causes and consequences of this challenge. This allows students to think about the different approaches they can take. During this phase, users of the model need to map all the different roots and ramifications of the wicked problem they are working on. Having awareness of all the implications, allows students to identify the most suitable strategy.
The second phase of our model invites the students to start thinking about the people that needs to change mindsets and behavior or that needs to take action in order to facilitate the process of value creation. They will map the networks that are necessary to involve in order to create value. When working with wicked challenges, there are no true or false paths to follow leading to societal value. The networks involved usually define these paths by finding common ground and collective understanding. In this phase is essential to identify who needs to be involved in the process, who owns the knowledge, expertise, capacity and intention to take action and make things happen.
It is time now to define actions for all the networks and stakeholders involved. This phase is about what exactly needs to be done (action mapping). The formulations need to be specific and realistic in order to start crystallizing to further prototype. Using the stakeholders mapping from the previous phase, students move to action mapping for each stakeholder.
Societal value is difficult to measure, but not impossible and we have different methods to do it. In the 4E-Model we measure the value created using several dimensions from the values wheel. The results of the evaluation allow students to discuss adjustments and/or improvements, as well as recommendation for further actions.