An internal workshop to re-imagine, re-invent, re-innovate
The first event of ENGIE Innovation Week in South Africa was an internal workshop, where we could think about how we show up in the world, what are our views and fears and what drives our behavior. It was a way to understand that innovation comes from collaboration, trust and non-judgmental attitude and requires people to move outside their comfort zone, which is what we did next.
Moving outside our comfort zone
Following the workshop, a trip to Ponte City and the Johannesburg CBD was organized to take us outside of our comfort zone. Ponte City, the highest residential building in South Africa, was once the height of opulence during the apartheid era with 54 floors comprising of triple story penthouses and saunas and Jacuzzis constructed for the white elite.
The neighborhood around Ponte was a designated whites-only area but was then labelled "grey area" where blacks and whites could mix. It then went through a period of deterioration when the government tried to stop the fraternization of different races in Johannesburg by cutting off services (power and water) to the CBD. As a result, people in the area eventually vacated, the property devalued over time and turned into a slum area overpopulated by immigrants, where gangsterism and drugs predominated. At that time, the building's core housed a pile of rubbish which rose 14 floors high.
Today after some determination and innovative community efforts, Ponte City has cleaned up and has become a residential complex for middle class families. Surrounding buildings and businesses are also making efforts to revive the inner city and change its image.
This was a good lesson for people to lean about the city history and see how a place can reinvent itself and change with the times. Peoples preconceived notions were dispelled, and there were lessons learnt about how the impossible can be done. ENGIE employees were split up in groups that visited different sites and businesses that explained how they began to tackle this mountain of a problem and turn things around with limited resources and government help.
Following this trip, the last event will ask teams to work together to assemble a model with a deadline but without instructions, thus enforcing the learnings from the previous 2 sessions. The goal of this whole series of events was for the employees to understand how they can similarly turn ENGIE into a creative and innovative company through team work.@
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