Keeping everyone on the same page: Rudi's partners seminars in 2021
"We are halfway through the project": with these words, Simon Saint Georges, head of the Rudi project (Rennes Métropole), introduced the discussion during the 2021 summer seminar.
Over the past year, the Rudi project partners have had the opportunity to meet physically on two occasions, one in July and the other at the end of November 2021. In addition to the work within each work package, the steering committees and the public events (including the Rudi Meetings in October 2021, which brought together nearly 200 participants), these two (summer and winter) seminars are privileged moments for the Rudi project partners.
Indeed, for the first time since the project's launch, the project partners were able to share a common space for a day and a half. This unity of time and place is essential not only to build and strengthen the links between the partners but also to raise the points of discussion in person. As a UIA expert, I was fortunate to participate in each of these seminars. What was it about?
Twenty-two participants attended the summer seminar. It took place in the picturesque setting of an educational farm near Rennes: the discussions were held outdoors. The agenda, prepared by the Rudi team and the partners in charge of project management, communication and internal animation, was quite packed: what visions of Rudi in 2023? How to accompany the Rudi pilot projects? What technical functionalities for the Rudi platform? ...
The winter seminar was also an opportunity to discuss the issue of promoting the content produced, the Self Data dimension of the project, the future governance of the Rudi platform.
Generally speaking, the topics addressed during these seminars are of two kinds.
First of all, there is the opportunity given to one (or more) partners involved in a facet of the project to share their work, their questions, obtain feedback from the other participants, and involve them.
An example from the summer seminar was Rudi's citizen survey discussion. After a first qualitative survey (the results have already been reported in Rudi Journal #1), a second, more quantitative phase is being prepared. Two members of the Lego laboratory, Rudi's partners, came to present the survey mechanism: the objectives, the chosen method, the constitution of the future panel. This collaborative workshop aimed, above all, to gather the expectations and proposals of all Rudi partners. The discussion was very lively and went far beyond methodological issues. The participants discussed the role of the citizen in Rudi. They are both inhabitants of the territory in which the future platform will be deployed, and potential beneficiaries of the projects developed within the framework of Rudi. Still, they are also full-fledged actors in the project since they may be asked to share their own personal data. Each of these roles undoubtedly calls for different questions. Which ones should be prioritised? This is the point of this type of seminar: to allow everyone to express their vision of the project, the first step towards building a shared vision. This is sometimes not easy and is not always done by consensus, but the vitality of the exchanges also testifies to the partners' commitment.
On the agenda of the two seminars (summer and winter), there are also cross-cutting subjects, which sometimes escape the division of the project into work packages.
This is the case for subjects that lead the partners to project themselves, for example: what will be Rudi in 2023? Beyond the commitments in Rudi's application to the UIA, what do we want to have achieved? What do we want to have learned? Here again, the richness of the exchanges lies in the diversity of opinions and perceptions. Another subject, which is just as transverse (although a work package is dedicated to it), is the future platform's governance. What role should Rennes Métropole play? Which partners from the territory should take part in this governance? And in what capacity?
The discussion itself is as important as the conclusions drawn from it. Moreover, on subjects as complex and essential for the future as governance, it is undoubtedly illusory to arrive at a complete answer that will lead to consensus in two hours of workshops. Perhaps the essential thing is elsewhere?
When asked about the value of these seminars, most of the interviewed participants told me the same thing: it helps to build a collective and 'form a group'. Since, as Simon Saint Georges said in his introduction, the Rudi project is "halfway there", these seminars ensure that everyone is following the same path. And in this respect, it is a great contribution to Rudi's success!