1.2 Key Enabling Methodologies or KEMs

To develop interventions, systems or institutions that shape the process of social change, we use ‘instruments’ that direct and structure our way of working. By analogy with the key enabling technologies, we refer to this toolbox, or set of instruments, consisting of methods, models, strategies, processes and tools, as Key Enabling Methodologies (KEMs). This includes ways of working (together), dealing with problems and creating interventions; tools with which ‘change’ professionals, such as designers, policymakers or public administrators, are able to structure their work, give direction and realise impact.

Two examples of KEMs that clarify the nature and application of KEMs:

  • Behaviour Change Wheel (Michie, Atkins, & West, 2014): a model that brings together multiple behavioural change theories and allows you to discover fruitful strategies for developing interventions and policies for behaviour change by playing with the dimensions of the wheel (see Chapter 4).

  • Digital Twins (El Saddik, 2018): a method in which a digital replica of a physical entity exists next to and in close contact with the source object, allowing for accurate monitoring and testing of effects in the physical world (see Chapter 5).

KEMs are enabling and thus provide a working principle for an integrative, change-oriented and design based approach

They are instrumental and indispensable in determining the desired change - or at least the direction of the desired change - and in bringing about that social change at the level of interventions, systems and institutions.

KEMs contribute to the integration of knowledge from the social sciences and humanities (for example knowledge about motivation, behaviour, ethics or organisations) with the opportunities offered by technological developments. In this way they support the development of useful applications and meaningful interventions.[3] In doing so, KEMs answer questions such as: how can interventions respond to the connections that social science theories reveal? How can interventions intervene in these specific situations to make people enthusiastic, involved, empowered or to influence their behaviour? How can one intervene in a system to bring about a desired change?

As the figure above illustrates, KEMs are enabling and facilitate the connection between technology and society. KEMs can be used to successfully implement a technology in a social context, but can also be applied to directly achieve that social goal, with or without the use of (new) technology. KEMs can thus help with the successful application of technology as well as guide its development.

Although KEMs are often developed at knowledge institutions, they regularly find their application in practice in a way that deviates from the prescribed way. For example, variants of existing and validated KEMs are developed and sometimes completely new instruments emerge from that process.

The nature of KEMs can vary widely. Some KEMs are generic in nature and - if properly applied - lead directly to new concepts, interventions or institutional changes. Other KEMs give direction and interpretation to a single and specific aspect of the intervention. Still other KEMs are more conditional in nature and provide steps in the process (for example, techniques for vision development, methods for involving end users). KEMs can therefore be used at different times and for different purposes in the innovation process.

Of course, the user of the method or process also plays a major role in the adequate use of KEMs. In addition to knowledge about the working principle of a KEM and the ability to select the right KEM for an issue, competences and skills are necessary to apply the selected KEM successfully. Proper use of a KEM requires the right skills and mindset, reflection and adaptability, and trust. This usually concerns tacit knowledge that a professional acquires through training and experience. Frequent trial and error with various methods in equally diverse issues and contexts ensures the development of intuition about when which method - or combination of methods - leads to successful results, and about how to mold a method for the specific situation. Finally, the use of KEMs often requires collaboration between different parties, and multidisciplinary thinking and acting. This also entails specific competences. To illustrate the role of KEMs in transition projects, we briefly describe three recent projects in which different KEMs are applied below:

Delta Programme The Delta Programme is a national programme in which the national government, provinces, municipalities and water boards collaborate in an innovative way with social organisations, knowledge institutions, citizens and the business community. The aim is to protect the Netherlands against high water for future generations as well, to provide sufficient fresh water and to organise our country in such a way that it becomes climate-proof and water-resilient. In the Delta Programme, an adaptive monitoring and effect measurement method (MWH, ‘measure, know, act’) has been developed. In addition, methods for co-creation with and participation of citizens are used in experimental environments such as living labs.

Redesigning Psychiatry Redesigning Psychiatry is a network of designers, philosophers, researchers, healthcare professionals and experts who together create a desired design for future mental healthcare. The activities of the Redesigning Psychiatry programme are clustered around the three tracks of innovation, movement (such as education, training and workshops) and research. This includes looking at crossovers with other sectors and other forms of financing. For the development of the design, a vision-driven design approach was used in combination with methods for system change. With this design, the network wants to boost the transition to a reliable, accessible and flexible mental healthcare network.

New perspectives on agriculture and nature In line with the nitrogen crisis, a breakthrough is necessary to deal with the recurring tension between nature and agriculture. A team of specialists in the fields of design and organisational science works together with agricultural entrepreneurs, nature managers and conservationists and policymakers on new perspectives. These new perspectives must contribute to a system change in which vital ecosystems, businesses and areas go hand in hand. It is important in this regard that the government is explicitly part of both the problem and the solution through new policy. This is no easy task: political and social consensus is lacking and there is also no consensus about the underlying scientific knowledge. By means of experiments and co-creation, new values will set the entire problem field in motion.

[3] In consultation with the Minister of Education, Culture and Science and representatives of the top sectors and Social Sciences and Humanities (17-10-2019), it has been agreed that the top sectors will make an effort to explicitly involve SSH science in their KIAs within the Mission-driven Innovation Policy. For this KEM agenda, this requires a broad elaboration of the concept of KEMs that does justice to all forms of social innovation.

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