Eye-opener workshop


Use for

Reflecting on lessons/insights from system innovation projects or programmes and translating them into valuable insights for the participants.


In a well-designed workshop you promote learning by ‘outsiders'. The learning occurs by reflecting on the challenges, successes and learning experiences of a system innovation project or programme.

What do you do?

The eye-opener workshop can be part of a Learning History (on this point, see also the description of that method). The workshop itself involves three steps.

In the first step, the history of the project or programme is explained, for example on the basis of a timeline, with key moments and highlights and low points in the project or programme. Alternatively, it could be a description of the most important substantive and technical results. This could be based, for example, on interviews and analyses of documents gathered earlier for the Learning History.

The second step is devoted to reflection on this narrative. The participants make a note of their own comments, reflections and eye-openers with regard to the narrative and discuss them chronologically, by person or by theme. In the final part of this step general lessons are drawn about the entire process.

Finally, during the third step theparticipants evaluate what the insights mean for their own situation. They also examine why an insight is relevant, and finally prepare an agenda for personal action.


  • The workshop takes at least three hours and the group should be small (3-8 participants).
  • The person who prepares the workshop (the monitor, for instance) must understand the situation of the participants at the workshop and have a sense of what learning points could be relevant for them.

More information

Mierlo, B. van et al. (2010). Reflexive monitoring in action. A guide for monitoring system innovation projects. Boxpress: Oisterwijk.

Used by

Barbara Regeer, VU: