The aim of this project was to design a methodology that facilitates an innovative ecosystem for the valorisation of local products, empowering synergies between the primary and tourist sector, in the volcanic territory of El Hierro, Canary Island, Spain.
Despite the development of tourism on the island of El Hierro,
the primary sector continues to decline and the local product is devalued.
In the territory of Canary Island, the primary sector is confronting hard times, regardless of the practice of farming, fishing and agriculture. Each day, fewer people are working in this artisanal industry and with more difficulties. Because of the abrupt landscape in Canary Island, especially in the smallest island, El Hierro, machines to optimise the work done in this area are not really useful. This, plus a non-understanding of the value of the local product by many suppliers, tourism companies and restaurants, led to the problem that local product is not being valued or used in local businesses. Furthermore is costing much effort to the primary sector workers and the Government, which is aware of the potential and benefits of increasing local production.
The broad objective of this project was to “associate local products with the image of the Canary Islands as a tourist destination of high landscape and environmental value, promoting a range of products that drive sustainable development”.
So I conducted some deck research and reflected on how to approach that objective.
It is inherited for me to talk about communication and relationships when we are talking about sustainable models, and think about local people when we talk about the valorisation of local products. I took two conclusions from there; communication and relationships are key to the success of this project and, we must put the people at the centre of the process.
Keeping this in mind, and because the original goal was quite broad and abstract, I broke it down into specific objectives for the project:
Understand the territory, and its unique characteristic was essential for the development of this project.
Understand the territory, and its unique characteristic was essential for the development of this project.
Being the first self-sufficient island, El Hierro is an example of sustainability in the Canary archipelago, but especially in the world.
Being the smallest island of Canary Islands has the particularity that islanders know each other, primarily when they work in the same industry.
The primary sector has been decreasing exponentially, and the tourism and valorisation of gastronomy as a reference on Canary Island is growing.
Risk of early extinction of artisan techniques and autochthonous products.
The main industry in the Canary Islands is tourism, so we had to find a way to enhance synergies between these two sectors: the primary sector – produces the local product, and the tourist sector – could use the local product as a symbol and value for the sustainable tourist experience.
When you map this out, you can see a joint sector between these two industries, which is gastronomy.
There is a misalignment between sectors. By one side, local product is taking importance for the tourist experience. However, by the other side, local products are being devalued by small businesses and suppliers, which doesn’t include them in the offer, and thus, can’t reach the tourist.
Gastronomy experience is a way to valorise the local product through the tourism sector, so we should include them in the conversation.
It is evident to me, that if we want to value the local product, we need to also appreciate also local people. So it is a fact that people-centred design should be the approach for this project. Aiming for inclusion, we analyse the primary and tourism sector from El Hierro. It is necessary to ensure that people from each product area are included in the conversation since they would have different perspectives around the same issue.
We wanted to develop this project collaboratively, so we had to understand who should be invited to this process.
To better understand all stakeholders, we conducted the user research that was possible with time and budget constraints. We conduct interviews and surveys in the primary sector, tourist sector, gastronomy, and some Subject Matter Expert interviews and collaborative sessions.
After analyse and synthesise the information collected from interviews, surveys and focus groups, we draft some conclusions:
With all those new insights and information, I looked back at my briefing:
DESIGN A METHODOLOGY THAT FACILITATES THE VALORISATION OF THE LOCAL PRODUCT.
So I started to think about how could I articulate such a methodology.
A methodology is a system of ways of doing, teaching, or studying something [Cambridge Dictionary]. It is also described by Wikipedia as a system of methods used in a particular area of study or activity.
Translating this concept to the project, I conceptualise it as a system of ways of doing, and specifically about communicating. I think a way of implementing a methodology must be a process and must be designed, at least, with the people we are designing for. For this, I didn’t develop a methodology to implement directly, but a process that allowed the people involved to create a tailored methodology.
I rethought the problem and the initial statement, and I reframed it with my learnings from the research. It was not an easy task because the first conceptualisation of this project was about creating solutions before really understanding the problem. I thought this approach wouldn’t be sustainable, and being this island an example of sustainability for the environment, it must also be in a way that creates synergies and opportunities. So I stepped back and thought on something that was clear from me since the beginning; communication. Research proves that there is a disconnection between sectors, and this should be addressed.
So I reframed the problem opening the opportunity space and focusing on relationships.
When I think about the first step to bring together two main worlds – one more traditional and rural as the primary sector is in Canary Island, and other more modern and technological as the tourist sector- I think is essential to share the language and align with a common vision before move forward. So I decided to focus on connections and relationships between these sectors and their inclusivity, cohesion and empathic understanding as a solid base for the success of any synergy.
I also think that should be a process, an iterative process and with some time for reflection. So the way I approached it was creating an itinerary that provides to all the participants the mindset, tools and knowledge to build relationships, overcome barriers and generate spaces for opportunities. Later, they would also have the opportunity to evaluate the progress of the taken actions.
I divided the itinerary into four stages:
1.- Build a shared vision
2.- Approach the territory
3.- Making the strategy tangible
4.- Relationships and iterative commitment
Once the stages of the itinerary were defined, I started designing the dynamics considering the particularities of each sector and balancing between the outcomes and the experiences for both, the primary and tourist sectors.
I also contemplated the motivation of the different sectors for the best cohesion and engagement of all of them.
I created simple user journeys to analyse the whole experience of the participants.
Having a limited amount of time, the key activities were prioritised for their development, and I started to create a database with possible ideas to implement in the future. As mention before, I was looking for a balance between the experience we provide to the participants and the outcomes each of them could take from this involvement.
The process was iterative. Even I haven’t had the opportunity to test the activities with real participants, I tested them in the studio with some of my colleagues. This allowed me to make some changes and improve the activities before completely define the dynamics.
After defining all the dynamics, I designed the assets and created the Facilitation Guide, in which I included information such as the name of the activity, the description of the activity, objectives of the activity, material required, grouping of participants, timings, step-by-step instructions and examples.
The first step is to generate a safe space where the different sectors could meet and build a shared vision and a strategy for effective communication. The three sectors -primary, tourism and restoration- would work collaboratively through democratic dynamics to define those strategies and determine the commitments. The collaborative process is essential in order to bring all the voices into the room.
The objective of this second stage is to bring hospitality and the tourism sector closer to the territory, to enhance the value of the local production through the journey, and to get to understand and empathise with the primary sector and their production processes. This is an opportunity for other sectors to get closer to the primary sector and to better understand the product, the added value that the ecosystem and landscape provide to it, and its real quality. This is also an opportunity to learn curiosities about farming and crafting processes, and also experiment on this specific space.
The objective of the third part of the itinerary is to provide tools to the hospitality industry to facilitate the inclusion of local products in the island’s gastronomic offer.
It is an eminently practical and participatory training. It would be divided into different modules, depending on the identified needs. An initial presentation is made in each module, followed by discussion and evaluation of the contents through examples.
Finally, It is about to work through the dynamics of co-creation in the generation of knowledge, analysing what was seen in a theoretical way, from the identity and reality of each business.
For the success of this methodology, it is necessary to monitor the activity, as well as following-up sessions and on-going strategies with clear outcomes. For this, we based the strategy on relationships and communication and introduced a collaborative approach to allow different people to find an opportunity that works for both.
A facilitation guide for each step of the itinerary was designed in order to facilitate the sessions in the best way possible. As I couldn’t facilitate them, I tried to communicate especially the objective of each dynamic, the steps by steps instructions, and the preparation requirements.
Also, it was
This project began on the island of El Hierro, a territory rich in resources and recognized internationally. It has subsequently been transferred to the Tenerife region, where the methodology based on the island’s existing resources and its relevant territory is currently applied. The removable conclusion is that the territory initially serves as an ideal space for the development of a reference model in terms of gastro-food and tourism guided by the concept of sustainability.
The fact of using these two different territories, El Hierro for the development of the methodology and Tenerife for putting it in practice and testing it, allows us to visualise that in any part of our region is possible to work with the essential value for using local products. From an innovative and contributing perspective, it can be understood that in this process there is enough space for all important stakeholders in the gastronomic chain, regardless of what sector they are part of, there is a beneficial connection for all.
⇢ Design the methodology and the different stages of the itinerary.
⇢ Define the strategy behind the methodology.
⇢ Define the objectives and outcomes of each methodology stage.
⇢ Design the dynamics, assets, objective and outcomes for each activity.
⇢ Design the guides for the facilitation of the collaborative sessions.
⊙ A methodology that bridges the gap between the primary sector, tourist sector and local institutions.
⊙ A methodology where all sectors could learn from the experience of other sectors, as well as share their perspective.
⊙ An inclusive methodology that allows all participants to express safely.
⊙ A new channel of communication for the primary and tourist sector.
⊙ Assets and guides for the facilitation of the collaborative sessions.
⌓ It is inclusive at its core – bringing the voice and the value of local people into the tourist industry, which is the main industry in Canary Island.
⌓ It is based on co-design principles.
⌓ It is all about people and collaboration.
⌓ It is made in the middle of the Atlantic, in Canary Island ♡- Home.
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