Dear consortium partners, ladies and gentlemen,
We have gathered here today on this solemn day to remember and lay to rest the project within which we have all now worked together for several years. Our project is now concluded and the time of the final reporting is upon us. As we know, the end of a project always offers an opportunity to reflect upon the people, the themes and the challenges encountered during the past years as we the consortium has worked together to achieve our shared objectives. The project may now be interred, but its results and outcomes will live on through all of us.
At the conclusion of this project, we the project specialists find ourselves reflecting on themes such as these:
Projects always bring together people from different backgrounds; different fields and scientific disciplines, different organizations, different cultures. Working together with a varied group of people always has also forced us to broaden our own views of the world, to reconsider what assumptions we can assume others to share with us. Often, in the course of a project, we learn – sometimes the hard way – that these assumptions are made at our own risk. However, this is also one of the most eye-opening aspects of these projects: the awareness and appreciation of different viewpoints and different approaches within our professional fields that, ultimately, make us all a little wiser for having been challenged in our thinking.
Co-creation is so often evoked as the golden standard. We co-create with stakeholders and industry partners. We innovate! Create value! Gathering around the same table, working to achieve the shared goals, thinking that as long as we work together, we cannot go wrong.
And yet – we can. And often do. Recall if you will what I said earlier, about being challenged in our thinking and assumptions. In practice, sometimes what happens is that a varied group of different organizations sits around that table with a shared goal to discuss how each of them would like to concretely work towards those goals, only to learn that their approaches are mutually incompatible, and then proceed to go home and do their thing their way. So what, you may ask, is accomplished in such a case? You are still forced to critically examine the way you are used to doing things, are exposed to different ways of doing things. You may have chosen not to use those different ways, at least this time, but now you know there was a choice.
And now, as we are gathered here in remembrance of this project, the question before us is ultimately: what remains? The project is concluded, the final reports soon to be submitted, the financial records sorted; where do we go from here? Something still lives on in all of us: the knowledge, networks and dare we say even friends we have gained. We can now continue to continue further, to go higher and farther. And now, as we lay this project to rest, rather than grieve the loss, let us rejoice in that which we have gained, and what is still to come.