On Wednesday, February 4, 2009, we had a research lab meeting in which we wanted to talk about the vision for our lab and what we want it to be. The first exercise we did was to visualize our personal vision of our lab using Lego building blocks.
In order for me to have a vision for the future, I needed to examine the current situation and make sense of it first. The result of the state of the affairs is the following:
The basis for our existence as research lab is the university represented by the bottom white, red and blue blocks (the university colors). On top of that our research lab consists of smaller and bigger units, mainly projects or research initiatives. They can be close to each other, (almost) touching depending on their research objectives, or they can be rather far apart.
These projects or initiatives could not live without the various people who work in / on them. They are represented by the tiny Lego pieces (I had never seen those before) of various colors stating that each researcher is an individual. These researchers are sometimes also close to each other and at other times not because not everybody has the same research agenda or looks at the same topics. Some of the people blocks are taller representing research lab and project leaders.
Our research lab cannot function in a vacuum and thus there is a green block going outside of the lab symbolizing the bridge to our research unit of which we are a part. The white building block is the research facilitator of our research unit.
The only non-Lego parts are the cake crumbles that luckily happened to be there because one colleague had made a banana cake for this session. They represent the nourishment that we need in order to keep up with the daily tasks. Nourishment is not only meant in the sense of actual food and drink, but also intellectual nourishment in the sense of attending conferences, organizing lectures, discussing issues, attending workshops etc.
What I am currently missing is the umbrella that holds everything together and makes me really see that we are a lab thriving for the same thing. My representation of our lab is pretty colorful meaning that a lot of different things are going on and that there is not really a common denominator. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The University of Luxembourg is not constructed according to common university structure. All research units (there are no departments) are multidisciplinary so that we do not look at the same thing through the same glasses. However, that may work for a research unit where there are 30+ people in it. In our research lab, which is smaller, I am still looking for an overarching commonality that makes me see the difference to our research unit. I hope that we will be able to define what that common thing. It should not be some very abstract notion of “We all look at learning” because then you can fit almost everybody in there. It should be more refined and detailed. I am looking forward to our future discussions.
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