Internet notebook about my work: deep listening to facilitate positive change


Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Monday, 24 February 2014

Frequently made mistakes in organizing a side event

An organization has developed a new initiative for conservation. They want to bring this initiative a step further by organizing a side event with their partners during a conference. The communication officer is asked to develop a plan for the side event:

In short her objectives (and means) are:
Present the current conceptual framework our initiative in the light of current discussions of the conference (through a presentation by one of the initiators)
      Present the logframes developed as a way forward for our initiative (by a panel discussion with experts).
     Invite suggestions on the challenges of applying this contextual framework at national and global level (through buzz groups).

Asked for suggestions on this plan she got as feedback this not going to work. You are jumping to means, you focus on the wrong audience and you have objectives that are not helpful to make the event a success.

Before developing the plan, she should have asked her boss:
Is this really possible? (no, the effective time one has for  a side event is only one hour)
Would this audience be available to attend our side event? (no, they would have their own events).
What is it that you really want and what we realistically can achieve? (e.g. support from conference participants for our initiative). 

On the basis of such last objective, she then could have developed communication objectives (see examples in illustration 1). Once her manager agreed with them she could look at how to achieve them and plan the session (see examples in illustration 2).

A good side event is based on good communication. Good communication is based on a clear and focused communication objectives that are the basis for the means and approaches chosen for the side event. It is not the other way around. And mind you: give enough attention to the attuitude objectives, they mostly come last if given any attention at all. 

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Think like a marketer: What advertising can teach about changing consume...

From the perspective of working in the private sector, Eric Phu discusses how marketing and advertising can be used to effectively change behavior in Asia.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Ten principles and values of a consultant

Since many years when asked what I do for a living, I answer that I am an environmental  consultant, specialized in communication. Many of my colleagues focus on a specific discipline, e.g. branding, advertizing, facilitation or PR. I offer advice on all stages of the management cycle, always from the perspective of strategic communication, processmanagement and learning. I am not interested to become the best in my trade or to make a lot of money. I love to concentrate on results that make a difference to the client and to nature or sustainable development. In the plane a young professional asked me what my professional values were. I shared with him these ten principles and values that guide my work:
  1.     .   Love nature. Love people.
  2.       . Know your qualities and your limitations.
  3.       . Focus on the issue behind the question.
  4.       . Be humble and customer oriented.
  5.       . Always keep learning, view everyone as your teacher.
  6.       . Publicize the success of your clients.
  7.       . Dream the future, that will inspire others.
  8.       . Be honest and transparent and ask that from others too.
  9.       . Listen to your (ex) customers and their stakeholders to see what cannot be seen. 
  10.     Work hard, do not complain and give the credits to others.

See also:
Frogleaps onstrategy

Saturday, 14 December 2013

We are all curious. Creative. Connected. We are part of a larger story. One that is still unfolding. 

These are the first lines of a compelling learning tool about nature, interdependence and the complex context of our human condition. A learning tool developed by Macquarie University a must read for everyone who wants to know where do we come from and where are we heading? It provides a sound basis for education about conservation and sustainable development.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Learning pathways

Frogleaps is now a few months on line. We are analyzing the behavior of the users of the two courses on frogleaps. Maybe not surprisingly the multiple choice questions on the strategic communication course are frequently answered by most visitors and users. So this weekend we also uploaded such questions in the various topics of the storytelling course. 

Both courses end with an opportunity “to do it yourself”. To make these “do it yourself” key subjects more attractive we added tools to help users with developing a communication strategy or writing a story. Some of these tools provide instructions for individual use. Other tools provide instructions to develop steps jointly with colleagues or partners. In that case the advantage is that users in those cases have to explain parts of the theory to their colleagues and or partners and will in this way enhance their own individual learning. Then there is the blog to update the content of the courses. This leads to the follwoing learning pathways:         
  1. Reading through the course in a linear way and updating your knowledge by occasionally looking at the blog
  2.  Following the blog and occasionally check the content of the theory that is referred to in the blog
  3. Surfing through the key subjects and tasting the content by doing the multiple choice questions
  4. Starting with the “do it yourself” subject and using the tools to learn and occasionally go back to the theory explained in the previous key-subjects
  5. Using the group learning tools to enhance your own learning, by introducing the exercises to colleagues and partners
  6. Using the tools in your own Communication training workshops.
      The individual linear learning pathway of reading through the parts or the whole course may only be done by some users. Therefore we thought to suplement this learning pathway by a route to taste the content through multiple choice questions, and an opportunity for individual and for group learning by adding tools to be used with colleagues and partners. 

      Most of the tools we have tested ourselves in training workshops or during university lectures. The students of the Klagenfurt University MSc  Course on Protected Area Management were thrilled to discover how useful the stakeholder analysis tool was. “We now really understand the importance of researching stakeholders in advance, the theory we got never really gave us the insights that you have to look for those stakeholders that can become your partners”, was one of their comments.

In a workshop with local communities in Sierra Leone, we used some of
the storytelling tools to let participants dream up a change strategy for
coastal management. In a workshop in Jordan we used some storytelling
tools to help birdlife partners from the region flash out success stories that
could be used as supportive testimonials in a campaign to mainstream the
issue of migrating soaring birds into various sectors. 
Some CEC members shared already their tools they thought could add
value: recently Suzana Padua from Brazil send us her tool to do a
simulation game.

      We very much look forward on feedback from users about the different learning pathways and how we can improve them. We also like to hear from users about their experience using the tools. Please feel free to comment below or to write a blog article! 

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

We are finding infinity

We are finding a future based on infinite resources. Here is our story over the past 3 years. We are on an adventure around the globe to inspire people to see the beauty, logical and inevitability of powering the world using only renewable energy and making this place self sufficient. This is a teaser highlighting what we have been doing and where we are heading, from throwing solar powered parties, to road tripping on vegetable oil and meeting up with some of the most innovative minds on the planet, we are searching for the solutions to make it all happen. We stay at the coolest hotels in the world, Design Hotels and help them reduce their impact as we go. Follow our journey.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Changing habits

The Chunoti Co-Management Committee was a 2012 Equator Prize Winner from Bangladesh. The project is described in United Nations Development Programme. 2013. Chunoti Co-Management Committee, Bangladesh. EquatorInitiative Case Study Series. New York, NYHere we try to retell the story from the perspective of the Committee sharing their learning over the years with staffs and decision makers of the forest department.

Strategic Story Elements
Target audience: Forest department officials
Key point: Effective co-management means that communities should be in the lead
Conflict: Habits of forest department and habits of communities 
Hero: Anwar Kamal
Adversary: Forest department and villagers

I am Anwar Kamal. I feel proud to be the Vice President of the Chunoti Co-Management Committee from Bangladesh. I have loved the Chunoti forest all my life. This wonderful forest lies South of Chittagong city. It used to be green all year round with tropical trees and areas of sungrass, which were used for many purposes. The forest is the home of many animals, birds, and rare plants. Even elephants pass through the forest on their way to Myanmar and back. The small farming communities in the area used to slash and burn small parts of the forest for their livelihoods.

When my parents were young the Chunoti forest was declared a Wildlife Sanctuary. But they also witnessed the start of more and more logging to meet the demand form the brick and timber factories in Chittagong. Slowly the forest began to make place for waste land and plantations. To make the Wildlife Sanctuary work the forest department engaged in dialogues with the local communities to promote co-management of the area. The result was the Chunoti Co-Management Committee. I was part of the Committee right from the start. However we soon found out that for poor protected area-dependent communities to stop destroying natural resources for their livelihoods, they must have the chance to ensure basic alternative livelihoods.

Changing behaviour and challenging age-old livelihood practices is no easy task. Motivation and awareness can help enlighten communities but nothing should be imposed on them. Communities should lead the planning and work, with only facilitation from external groups. This was difficult from the perspective of the forest law and the way the forest department always had functioned. But co-management only started functioning when the communities could take the lead. When I finally reached that point with the forest department, women started to lead patrols trough the protected area to prevent illegal logging and poaching. We introduced bamboo craft making, fish farming, basket weaving and we in the Committee helped to ensure fair prices and market demand. 

Now the communities are working on eco-tourism. The Committee decided that part of the revenues is for the community, part is to be invested in reforestation. The Committee also influences legislation and governance practices. In my experience working in protected area co-management, three major threats are: a lack of any sense of ownership among communities in and around protected areas; the dependence of ultra-poor people on these areas for their basic livelihoods; and corruption in the authorities responsible for protected area management.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Small steps towards the larger goal

Sisi Initiative was a 2012 Equator Prize winner. Facts and fgures are described in a UNDP case study. United Nations Development Programme. 2013. Sisi Initiative Site Support Group, Fiji. Equator Initiative Case Study Series. New York, NY. Based on this information we retell here the story according to the principles of story telling. We choose to do so from the perspective of the treasurer of the Sisi Initiative, telling other indigenous land owners in the country how they generated positive change.

Strategic Story Elements
Target audience: indigenous landowners in other parts of the country
Key point: small steps towards new livelihoods can help you, your land and that of your children
Conflict: Community reluctance to egnage in conservation of their land without concrete benefits
Hero: Mr. Silio Lalaqila, Treasurer, Sisi Initiative Site Support Group, Fiji             
Adversary: Communities engaging in activities harming the forest and biodiversity

My name is Silio Lalaqila and I am the Treasurer of the Sisi Initiative. I am from the Island of Vanua Levu that is situated in the North of Fiji. The mountainous peninsula of Natewa Tunuloa on the island is rich of forests. At sunrise you can hear the songs of many birds. One of them is the Sisi, the rare Fijian silktail bird, that we are all proud of. In the days of my grandparents the people in our small indigenous communities were mostly farmers. They occasionally went into the forest for firewood, timber, hunting, some wild foods and medicinal plants.

As it seems that all good things come to an end, that lifestyle slowly disappeared. People started to cut forests for mahogany or coconut plantations. Sometimes people set the forest on fire for such purposes. Commercial logging brought in money but also caused erosion and floods. Lack of water and bad quality drinking water became part of our daily problems. The provincial government and international NGOs started to organize workshops to create awareness and build capacity for positive change. I went there and we discussed alternatives for income generated by logging. With the help of conservation NGOs we started our Sisi Initiative, a Community based group of volunteers.

When we work in the local communities we tell them “Protecting biodiversity is not just about protecting birds or plants, it’s about protecting what’s rightfully yours, your children’s and your children’s children’s. What type of planet will our future generations be living in by 2020? Patience is a virtue and together with hard work and commitment, you’re sure to succeed and be recognized for the little things you do.” So slowly we started over the years to engage clan land owners in agreeing not to log for at least ten years and make a joint management plan for the forest. In return they would benefit from alternative livelihood schemes. That was a first step. We developed the next steps one by one, as success make success follow.    

Today they engage in beekeeping, sandalwood farming, yam cultivation, poultry. For women we have handicrafts training, e.g. basket weaving, jewelery making, pastry baking etc. With the help of the Forest Department the communities help restore the forest to reduce soil erosion. These are all small contributions to the larger goal of conserving our land as we received it from our ancestors.