19 Jun 2018

The secret of number 150 presented at the Partnership for Change

Partnership for Change is a program of innovative cooperation between Slovenian public administration and private sector, aimed at exchanging good ideas, practices, and useful solutions, as well as employee exchange. The program is run by AmCham Slovenia and the Ministry of Public Administration of the Republic of Slovenia, and the activities of the program are attended by representatives of the ministries of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia and Slovenian companies. In the fourth round of the program, which was recently concluded, business associations, municipalities, non-governmental organisations, public and private institutions, educational and research institutions were invited to participate in the program, aiming to become a national platform for cooperation.

On Tuesday, 12 June 2018, a closing event took place in the Ljubljana City teater, where Dr Dan Podjed (SRC SASA and IRI UL). He presented two international projects, in which IRI UL is one of the partners and where anthropological approaches are used to develop people-friendly services and products. The event was attended by approximately 200 representatives of the Slovenian public administration and the private sector, including the Prime Minister, Dr Miro Cerar and the Minister of Education, Science and Sport, Dr Maja Makovec Brenčič.

Dr Podjed first explained the importance of the so-called Dunbar number. British anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar found that the size of the community that people can establish and maintain depends on the size of their orbital prefrontal cortex. According to Dunbar, people can successfully maintain friendships with up to 150 individuals, to still feel as an integral part of the community. Dunbar’s findings can be used in organisations, just as they did in company GORE, which is best known for GORE-TEX products. In this company, production plants were being limited in size. When they noticed that all 150 parking spaces are filled in front of the production building, a new branch was opened to create a new community. As they found, in such limited and compact communities, where everyone knows everyone, the employees cooperate more successfully and feel better at their workplace.

In continuation, Dr Podjed explained that the quality of interpersonal relationships is crucial and that people must be at the forefront of innovative solutions, products and services. He presented how anthropologists can, with the use of qualitative methods, contribute to the innovation processes in companies and public sector institutions. With human-centred approaches we can develop solutions that respond more effectively to the needs and expectations of people. He summed up the findings and recommendations developed by IRU UL and its partners in European projects MOBISTYLE (Horizon 2020) and PEOPLE (Erasmus +), where they collaborate in interdisciplinary development teams and integrate the approaches of engineers, business and industry representatives and anthropologists. One of these recommendations is related to the size of the community and the Dunbar number.

Key to a successful integration of the public administration and private sector, mutual learning, exchange of good practices and the development of innovative solutions is cooperation between individuals. At the conclusion of his presentation, Dr Podjed presented the audience with a challenge to praise or say something positive to at least three individuals within their community that day, either at work or at home. Even small steps can be meaningful in our effort to establish good interpersonal relationships and create a stimulating and creative environment in the workplace.

In the continuation of the event, three groups presented their solutions to the challenges were selected among the applicants in 2017. The “Snežna kepa” (snowball) group presented measures to successfully develop, attract and retain talent in the Slovenian business sector, the Manager Association team were looking for solutions to the challenge of how to clean Slovenia of paper invoices, and the challenge of the team of engineers was how to 300,000 Slovenians excited about the idea of “Slovenia, a green reference country in the digital Europe “. Members of the committee, Lilijana Kozlovič, Secretary General of the Government, Nevenka Kržan, Senior Partner KPMG and President of AmCham Slovenia, Barbara Domicelj, Director General of Microsoft Slovenia, Tina Divjak, Head of Advocacy in CNVOS, and Žiga Vavpotič, President of the Board of Directors of the company Outfit7, discussed the presentations and the proposed solutions to the challenges. The event ended with a promise that the Partnership for Change will continue to the next – fifth round.