Memory Aid, first Masterclass

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Made for ing re sc en read

Memory aid First masterclass “Learning how to organise and facilitate your own Helpathon�

September-November 2020

Thank you, Dear Sue, Jan, Carine, Ilse, Jantine and Mendel thank you for intervening in the course. Dear Hanneke, Bea, Eva Uden, Erica, Debbie, Yvonne, Janneke, Arianne, Micheline, Monique, Noor, Jen, Dilenem, thank you for pioneering with us during the first Masterclass: Organize Your Own Helpathon. We do believe you are now ready to start your own helpathon practice! We recommend that you start building your practice step by step. Please find attached our reflections on the course, (finally) some practical guidelines on our Helpathon practice and the link to a zoom film summarizing the expert interviews and a brief summary of the transition context in which the idea for Helpathon was applied to accelerate animal free innovation. We wish you good luck organizing your own helpathon and do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Eva Malschaert,, +31 649700800 Pepik Henneman,, +31 623468381

© 2020 Meneer De Leeuw

Part 1 Reflecting on our learning community  3 Part 2 Developing your own sense for helpathons  6 Part 3 TPI Helpathon practice in ten steps  7 Part 4 How to start your practice  18 Part 5 Why we intervene with helpathons the field of in animal free innovation  20


Part 1

Reflecting on our learning community


Going ahead in between two corona waves “I almost want to tickle you through my screen. Whoops, can I say that? I can’t believe I just said that.”

As the course took place between the first and second wave of corona outbreaks we chose to make the course online. Acknowledging how exhausting it can be to jump from one focussed Zoom meeting to the other we decided to try out a new way of offering a course. In normal circumstances we would have given a 6 day long course with plenty of time to focus on lectures and to interact between each other. Now we decided to provide readings and recorded interviews that you could watch at your own pace. This allowed us to keep the online meetings short and interactive.


Helping, opening up and holding a co-creative space Thank you for bearing with us as we consciously didn’t give you ready made protocols, models or conceptual frameworks. This might have helped you to hold cognitively what a Helpathon is about but we felt that this alone would not have enabled you to develop your own Helpathon practice. Instead we introduced you to special people who helped us shape our current TPI Helpathon practice. Each of them has a very distinct way of looking at learning and innovation processes. Mendel came to contaminate us with his playful Hackathon state of mind. Sue shared how she feels this way of learning complement academic research practices. Jantine gave a crash course

in open space technology. Jan shared his reflections on coincidence and innovation. We played with our own helpathon question and we listened carefully to each other wondering and reflections. Finally we invited you to be active observers and participants in Helpathon #4. We wanted to give you a sense of what a Helpathon is. We grew into a learning community. Together with the course interveners, each of you actively contributed to our exploration of our Helpathon practice. It is by doing that we created a common sense on what it means to help and what it means to open up to different ways of thinking and how to hold a space to accommodate for this. These are three essential qualities of a Helpathon.

“Since we started with this course I’ve noticed a lot of stuff that I didn’t notice before. Of course those things were there before but I start noticing this now.” 5

Part 2

Developing your own sense for helpathons Please contact if you want to view this film. It will bring you back in our explorative conversations. And maybe as your experience grows you will start noticing different things again as you watch it again.


Part 3

TPI Helpathon practice in ten steps


Step by stap plan TPI Helpathon practice Please find below a step by step plan of our current Mister Lion TPI Helpathon practice:

1. Organize your team

2. Secure resources

We prepare a Helpathon together in a team. The diversity of people that you would like to see present in your Helpathon should be reflected in the team organizing it. Up to now we have always started organizing a Helpathon from an existing network. In the case of TPI it was the network for innovative biomedical research (see next section on backgrounds of our Helpathon practice). In addition, we seek to have a team with specific competences: facilitating, coaching, project management, communication and technical support.

The first Helpathon was organized without any financial resources. Everyone was volunteering and organisations sponsored the facilities and meals. In the case of TPI Helpathons the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality is providing the Helpathon team with the financial resources to organize the TPI Helpathons. Having said that, some team members have been allocated time from their organisations to contribute to the Helpathon. Up to now participants have always been volunteers. In the table below we show estimates of the resources required to organise a Helpathon. Please note, our practice of TPI Helpathon has evolved to a refined and complex venue. The expectations are high. To guarantee results in this very polarized societal field and in depth scientific exchanges, we feel we need a tedious preparation and production of the Helpathon. Depending on the setting it is possible to organise a Helpathon in a simpler way and achieve relevant results.


3. Find a question owner 24 hour TPI Helpathon Range



Number of questions



Number of volunteers (real 8 (16 man days) life & online)

80 (160 man days)

Number of hosts



Online host (hybride option)



Preparation, production and communication days

15 (man days)

40 (man days)

Out of pocket costs (catering, venue, goodies)



Out of pocket costs (hybrid +/-2500 option)


Corona proof venue dimensions

In our TPI Helpathon practice, we look for researchers who are working with animal testing and who are willing to look again at their research practice and explore other (animal free) ways of doing their research. It is important that the person bringing the question is open for unexpected outcomes: Motivated to explore new ways of working and able to act upon them.

a minimum of 5m x 2 p.p.


4. Start building trust In the TPI context a Helpathon is an act of mediation. Trust is needed to enable us to mediate between organisations and people with very different views on animal testing. The building of trust is key and should start between the Helpathon team and the researcher asking their question. We take the time to get to know each other. We familiarise ourselves with each other's practice. We might feel very uncomfortable with the practice of the people we engage with but we do not judge them. We open our minds and our hearts. We want to help them, we want to invite others to help them.

“I would like to emphasize that I am not here to have a debate on the ethical issue of animal testing. I want to help others and learn myself”

5. Refine your question into a wellrounded Helpathon question In our Helpathon practice we aim to have at least 2 questions. During a Helpathon you look for unexpected cross-pollinations. Different questions will attract different people and will give more opportunity for these unexpected crossovers to happen. The help question is essential for a Helpathon. The people joining are responding to that specific question. The help question organises and directs the Helpathon itself. It sets the boundaries to what will and what will not be discussed. The process of a Helpathon can be very open as it revolves around this very specific wellrounded Helpathon question. Your question is a well-rounded Helpathon question if it is: –– urgent enough for a wide range of people (who would like to help you?) –– specific enough (go over every word and analyse it, what do you mean with it, can you make this word even more specific? Climate change for example is urgent but not specific enough). –– open enough (does your question already imply a particular answer or way of working? In the TPI context, is your question linked to your research method? Is your question open enough for different outcomes?) –– authentic enough (as a person, do you own the question, are you intrinsically motivated to work with this question) –– action orientated enough (are you willing to act upon the outcomes and in the position to do so?) And finally can you articulate your question in the most direct way by completing the sentence: “Can you help me (…) ?” 10

6. Make a ‘wish list’ Together with the researchers we set up a participants ‘wish list’. Who would we like to be there? What professions? What expertise? Who specifically? Is the group diverse enough? Are the backgrounds different enough? Can we see rich conversations happening, and are there chances for stimulating unexpected crossovers? In the TPI context: did we invite patients? Did we invite students, funders, policymakers, general members of the public and of course medical practitioners and scientists? Making an explicit ‘wish list’ helps in articulating an adequate invitation, it guides the process of inviting others.

7. Take good care of your participant (hybrid or real life) The venue is important. It should be big enough to host the whole group, enabling them to work separately in different teams. In the current “corona times” we decided to have hybrid Helpathons. These are Helpathons where participants meet onsite (real life) and online. This requires an online co-creation space, we experimented with QIQOCHAT. The real life set-up requires a minimum of technical gear (stable internet, large dual monitors, beamer, 360 degree camera and microphones, virtual or real life agenda wall for the open Space Session, clipboards, post-its markers etc.) and a large studio where everyone can keep their distance. Be a good host! Make sure participants have good food during the event, that they are never cold and that they have good internet. When you make sure people’s wellbeing is guaranteed they will be more inclined to drop their “masks” and open up.


Watch video impression here


8. Invite and prepare your participants Plan a date Together with the question owner, plan the dates for the Helpathon. We strongly recommend to include a time span with an overnight for example: Day 1: starting 13:00h and ending 21:00h Day 2: starting 9:00h and ending 15:00h We actively use the overnight to allow insights to settle (look at #10)

“I would say eureka is related to coincidence but more feeling it scientifically. I got an idea and probably there are ideas behind it and this can only happen because I spoke with someone else or I got inspired by someone else. Then, I don’t know, I start smiling…”

Invite helpers We start with sending out a save the date announcement, roughly 3 months in advance. Around 2 months in advance we start inviting helpers. We spend a lot of effort in carefully articulating the invitation. It has to be spontaneous and rigourous at the same time. The tone of voice is key as it has to invite help, to share knowledge, to co-create, with an open heart and open mind. Participating in a Helpathon is always on a voluntary basis. No one should be sent out to be there. Participants should be motivated to help. Triggers could be: fun, network, curiosity, wanting to contribute, getting inspired, learning, etc. Create a place to subscribe, and immediately ask for the postal address of the participants, to send them a surprise package. The surprise package has become our new way to show appreciation for the volunteers in online “corona times” as we cannot treat them the way we do in real life venues. Clarify, What, When, Where, Why, How, From Whom, For Whom We do this via group emails and short filmed messages, via social media channels. We also invite participants personally. We ask the question owners to personally invite people in their network. We also ask them to use the communication channels of their organization. Sharing the idea of having a Helpathon on a particular question is a mediation intervention by itself: ‘hey look the researcher from this research lab is openly asking for help to look for other research methods… hmmm could we do this too?’



Watch her one minute video call here

9. Design a process This is the process we developed for our 24 hours TPI Helpathons: Session 1 Check in Briefing | 60 minutes

Session 2 Open space | 180 min

The check in session marks the start of a Helpathon. Everyone should attend.

The open space session is there to take ownership of the Helpathon. The open space enables every participant to share what she or he feels needs to be discussed. The open space session helps participants to connect with each other and each other's practices and views.

–– Presenting the format and the principles.Tell the participants what they can expect when and what the principles are. –– Clarify the questions The researcher outlines the context of her or his work and openly asks for help by presenting their question. Offer room for clarifying questions. –– Getting to know each other Invite participants to check in: invite every participant to introduce themselves very briefly.

“First I thought, why should we use an empty agenda? But now I experienced it I’m very sure about the importance of it”

–– Hold the open space Make your briefing calm and confident. Describe open space as a space where you can walk around (‘the law of two feet’), where whoever comes are the right people, where it’s over when it’s over, where whatever happens is the right thing, the only boundary is the question. Starts with an empty agenda on the wall or the online documents in which the participants can write and voice any question or topic they would like to explore now in light of the central question they just heard about. Create sufficient spaces to address the questions or topics. Invite the self-forming groups to write a short report (in a format you offer) with key insights and possible next step. –– Allow for reading time Include time for participants to read the reports of groups they did not participate in.


Session 3 Power to imagination | 180 min

Session 4 Letting go and picking up | a night sleep and 90 min

Next to presenting or discussing, imagining is a very powerful way to share knowledge and to get to know each other. Furthermore imagining allows us to visualize and believe in new openings we might not yet know are possible. Especially in the TPI scientific research oriented community imagining new futures is both precarious and powerful. Scientists are not used to this.

A night’s sleep helps to process everything that happened during the day. Without any effort you can take some distance, let everything sink in and to come back fresh. Just let everything go and take a rest. In the morning you can start picking-up from where you left. Take a long shower in the morning. Pay attention to what you find yourself thinking about. These might be important clues for what you want to be working on on that day. But if a night of sleep is not feasible, a moment to take a stroll, a lunch break can do the trick as well. There is an instruction though: let the unconscious work now. Don’t work on it, just let it go. What you remember after the night or the stroll will be the right things.

–– Imagine it is there Invite the participants to visualize whatever idea they thought of is there- It happened!. The alternative model exists and is validated, the new enabling regulation is there, the fundings they needed is there, the new organisation is there… just tell us what you see happening, what are you doing, what are others doing… and how did you contribute to get there… Just imagine it… and tell each other about it…

–– Reflecting, selecting and bringing together The morning of the 2nd Helpathon day starts with sharing the key findings participants feel are relevant to discuss further. Silent, online self-organizing and self-clustering post-it sessions are a very powerful way to use everyone's intelligence to come to an overview.


Session 5 Bringing rich ideas further | 180 min

Session 6 Check-out with presentations

This is another key moment in the Helpathon. Any participant and question owners can state what they believe is worthwhile exploring further now. They can invite others to join, others can show interest and announce they would like to join in taking it further.

Just like the Check-in, the Check-out is mandatory for all participants. We welcome additional visitors to join the session. We conclude our Helpathons with these creative performances and close the Helpathon as we started it by allowing everyone to share where they are at now.

–– Enriching the idea In smaller groups participants work further on the rich ideas that have just been formulated. Can we take it further? How can we enrich the idea, make it more complete and nicer. What are the next steps? –– Creative presentations We make it a point to challenge the participants to use maximum creativity to communicate and share their enriched ideas. The Helpathon is derived from the Hackaton. In a Hackathon you explore by building and doing. This is yet another way to share and create knowledge. This process of creating and articulating helps to discover your ideas further. It helps to communicate the essentials of your new ideas. In the past we have had plays, news broadcasts, escape rooms, letters, ruby cubes, poems and fairytales as a form of expression.


10. Follow up The end of the Helpathon marks the beginning of new connections, new collaborations, new ideas for research practices that can continue to grow. We, as the TPI Helpathon team, continue to follow this process. We stay in touch with the participants and the researchers bringing in their questions. We ask them to report to the participants after a few weeks and to share their after thoughts and their intentions or next steps in the light of what was developed during the Helpathon. And we thank everyone for being there. You can find how we follow up on the results of our TPI Helpathons on

“I think that when we say, if it ends it is not the end, it can help us in having trust in any outcome�


Part 4

How to start your practice Take small steps Organizing a complex full 24 hours Helpathon with a big number of participants and different central questions may be too much of a big step after this course. We suggest you start practicing step by step: 1. Practice reframing questions into a helpathon question During the course we practiced already on this. Continue doing this with other questions that might be relevant to organize a Helpathon for or a like minded event. You can do this together with your colleagues, your family or your friends. 2. Practice helping others with a help question Practice opening your heart and opening your mind. Do you know someone who needs help? Organizing a mini Helpathon for the two of you. Make sure the question is well-rounded. And practice the different ways of sharing knowledge and creating new openings. Just take a few hours to do this.

3. Practice facilitating others helping someone with a Helpathon question Repeat the above and now include a few participants you know well and trust. 4. Practice with organizing and hold a smaller 24 hour sessions Repeat the above, but now experiment with more participants and longer time frames.


Practical checklist Helping, opening up and holding a co-creative space are the key qualities of a Helpathon. The way these key qualities materialize vary in each Helpathon. The first Helpathon ever (Groningen 2015) took place over 4 days with more than a dozen help questions and hundred participants. The latest Helpathon (Amsterdam 2020) took place mainly online over 24 hours with three help questions, forty online participants and eighteen onsite participants. The number of questions and participants, context, duration, and the complexity of the process and the organisation vary each time. Also the style varies according to the people organizing it and the societal field it interferes with. The invitation for the HELPATHON on old age care (VENHUIZEN, 2015) with 150 inhabitants and care professionals has a very different tone of voice than the TPI ones on reducing animal use in research, featuring scientists, funders, animal activists and policy makers.

“It kind of reminds me of something my piano teacher used to tell me. You can play the notes, if you have sheet music you can play it but to actually make it music, to make it a life you have to feel it.”

Getting started We encourage you to start simple and utilise your own style. A style that fits with you and the context of your work. This checklist might help you get started: ❒ I am organizing my Helpathon around a wellrounded Helpathon question ❒ I trust on organizing coincidence ❒ I open my mind and my heart ❒ I have fun ❒ I schedule moments of Creation and moments of Briefs and Debriefs ❒ I have moderators/coaches that will work with me in helping other participants ❒ I create an inspiring place to hold the Helpathon ❒ I create a safe space ❒ I invite a diversity of people with different beliefs, roles and talents ❒ I prepared the participants to what is coming ❒ I know I am not done after the Helpathon


The Hague januari 2019 Dear patient, financier, researcher, doctor, policy maker, Part 5

Why TPI Helpathons? This letter was published in Dutch as an introduction to the Progress Report January 2019 from Innovation Network Innovative Health Research for the Dutch TPI program (Transition Animal-Free Innovation) after the first TPI Helpathon. It was signed by a selection of members of the network.

We are not sure whether we need animal testing now We share the desire to make a contribution to human health, preferably without testing animals. We think that, sometimes, we can only answer our human health research questions with the testing of animals. We are researchers, funders, policymakers and concerned citizens. Together we form the temporary renewal network "Innovative Health Research". We are sure that new research methods have a lot of potential We take responsibility for the fact we do research with animal testing or have done research with animal testing. We consider it risky to just stop with animal testing when developing medicines, therapies and treatment methods. Our aim is to contribute faster and better to the wellbeing of people with a disease. At the same time, we consider it risky to just continue with animal testing. In many cases, the therapeutic results obtained with experimental animals can not be translated to the patient. We choose the path of open dialogue and consensus to arrive at innovative, animal-free research methods. Courage and persistence It requires perseverance to break through with new research and funding practices. Existing research practices and funding protocols have been optimized for years and years. It takes courage to reconsider our research practices we fund or carry out with animal testing and to communicate openly and transparently about it. → 20

New observations lead to new thoughts We would like to thank the participants who dared to share their research with animals openly with us at UMC Utrecht, Erasmus MC Rotterdam, at the Dutch Burns Foundation in Beverwijk and the Kidney Foundation in Bussum. Thanks to them, we were able to practice a new way of reconsidering research questions and research methods involving animal testing and considering animal free research methods aimed at the improvement of human health. We would also like to thank the Transition Animal-Free Innovation program, the transition office, the partner organisations and the departments involved and Minister Carola Schouten of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, who gave us the space to explore this transition path together. Determine your own speed of innovation Knowledge about new non-animal research models is available, but it needs to be shared. Our recommendation to funders of health research is to work with patients, doctors, health professionals, researchers, funders, advisory committees and policymakers to systematically make room for animal-free innovation through innovation strategies. We can coordinate these innovation strategies in the Netherlands so that they can reinforce each other. In this way we increase the chance that the Netherlands will actually become a guide country for innovation without laboratory animals! Participate in animal-free innovation, follow our new innovation protocol and share your knowledge and insight at the next TPI Helpathon!

Funders, get involved!‌‌ We‌ ‌challenge‌ ‌funders to‌ ‌make‌ ‌space,‌ ‌systematically‌ ‌for‌ ‌animal-free‌ ‌innovation‌ ‌in‌ ‌health‌ ‌research‌ ‌by:‌ ‌ 1. ‌Communicating openly‌ ‌about‌ ‌research‌ ‌with‌ ‌laboratory‌ ‌animals‌ ‌ 2. ‌Developing an ‌innovation‌ ‌strategy‌ ‌ 3. ‌Reserving small‌‌money‌for innovation ‌ 4. ‌Make‌ ‌a‌ ‌challenge‌ ‌lists‌ ‌of‌ ‌research‌ ‌models‌ ‌not‌ ‌to ‌be use‌d ‌and‌ ‌to be ‌use‌d ‌ 5. ‌Organize‌ ‌coincidence‌ ‌ How?‌ ‌You‌ ‌will‌ ‌only‌ ‌find‌ ‌out‌ ‌when‌ ‌you‌ ‌do‌ ‌it!‌ ‌Organize‌ ‌coincidence‌ ‌yourself.‌ ‌Follow‌ ‌the‌ ‌TPI‌ ‌Helpathon‌ ‌Protocol‌ ‌and‌ ‌now‌ ‌explore‌ ‌the‌ ‌possibilities‌ ‌of‌ ‌animalfree‌ ‌innovation.‌ ‌We‌ ‌are‌ ‌happy‌ ‌to‌ ‌help!‌ You‌ ‌too‌ ‌can‌ ‌help‌ funders further!‌ We‌ ‌have‌ ‌discovered‌ ‌that‌ ‌animal free becomes ‌easier‌ ‌if‌ ‌you‌ ‌choose‌ ‌to‌ ‌do‌ ‌so‌ ‌together:‌ with‌ ‌patients,‌ ‌healthcare‌ ‌professionals,‌ ‌researchers,‌ ‌financiers‌ ‌and‌ ‌policymakers.‌ ‌Then‌ ‌everyone‌ ‌sees‌ ‌the‌ new‌ ‌possibilities‌ ‌arise.‌ ‌ ‌ See‌ ‌you‌ ‌then,‌ ‌ Renewal‌ ‌Network‌ ‌Innovative‌ ‌Health‌ ‌Research‌ ‌

Your sincerely, Xxx 21

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