Whether it is a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Index or an ESG training for Board Members, several projects have been initiated by the Fellows of Belgium’s 40 under 40 in the past months. Beyond the final result, the projects are all born from a collective process and experience of the 40u40 program: the Field Work.
The Field Work, a sandbox for impact
As one of the four pillars of the program, the Field Work provides a platform for increasing the societal impact of the Fellows through collective intelligence and co-creation. With this experience, the Fellows shift from a reflection on the future of society to undertaking tangible actions.
For Anne-Sophie, this part of the program is important because “it enables us to work on the doing, instead of focusing solely on the being”.
Developing a common project often inspires dreams and challenges for the Fellows. They team up around a concrete societal challenge that drives them, explore different paths to impact, and try to shape a collective engagement to have a positive result for society.
One of the leading principles of Belgium’s 40 under 40 is to achieve change by working first on the who and the why, before jumping into action. In this spirit, the Fellows’ first step is to reflect on their personal ambition for society, and find peers who share that ambition for the future.
As the Fellows read the different goals of each other, they identify the ones aligning with their own and start teaming up. “At the beginning, it was a bit unsettling” said Anne-Sophie. “Once we gathered in a group having a common area of interest, we quickly wondered: so where do we go?”
Moving from ambition to action is a significant challenge for all the groups. “I was scared we would only speak about things ‘up in the air’’. For Alexis, there was one pitfall to avoid: discussing society in general and staying vague. “In my group, I was quite surprised that we quickly landed on a specific idea that is realistic and tangible”.
For Alexis and his teammates, the objective was to keep big ambitions for their project on Technology and remain “down-to-Earth” and realistic about their resources. “We have a very entrepreneurial mindset and easily allocated resources and responsibilities.”
In other groups, narrowing their ambition to a specific idea resulted in splitting up. “My initial group was relatively big. If we all agreed on a general ambition, we had some diverging ideas on what to do about it”. In the end, “we decided to form two subgroups with each having its own project”, explains Anne-Sophie.
Regardless of the final product of their Field Work, one of the key learnings from the experience is about the group dynamics and interactions between the Fellows. Already halfway through the program, one of the learning points for Alexis has been to “learn how to facilitate a large group of people and to make sure everyone is part of the co-creation process“.
Throughout the Field work, Fellows create new connections with their peers. “For me, working on the Field Work gives me the chance to build deep relationships with Fellows outside of my Circle and already existing connections”.