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


Thursday 30 October 2008

Workshop evaluation

Evaluating a workshop implies checking to what extent the objectives are realized and what we can say about TMQ from a project management perpective. In our case we met our objectives. Time - although we received the financial support only a week before the workshop, we delivered all the planned products in time. Money - we stayed within the budget. We are now negotiating to use the left over for next steps. Quality - in ten days we will hear from our donors how satisfied they are. Our partners are. From our own professional point of view we are satisfied: a next time we may be better prepared for too much interest, have less introductions and more interaction. The video seems very useful. Publicity was good: on the web before and after the workshop, in official speeches in the congress and in an article in Le Monde.

Web-based workshop reporting

A web based video report is very different from a hard copy presentation. The screen decides how we read. On a page you might put the contents in a strict order, each item below the other and starting from the left margin. On a screen the eye goes diagonally. So a table of contents can look very differently. I learned it is better to make the presentations of each speaker separately available: the ten minute time slots are easier to download. And again visual langauge is all about simple images, associative bridges and rythm. Soft and quiet music can help with moments of rest, after moments of concentrated listening. A blog is another form of reporting. The Woodrow Wilson Institute's blog The New Security Beat gave a very journalistic impression of our workshop. It also added a podcast with their own interview with one of the organizers.

Wednesday 29 October 2008

Workshop reporting

How many people read a workshop report? It depends very much how the information is presented. Sometimes it helps if the report contains short testimonials about the major issues or points made, accompanied by a photo and contact information of the speakers. Sometimes people like to find power point presentations on the web. In a few cases people would like to have the full texts of introductions. In written reports much of the dynamics of the workshop gets lost. A video report can help, especially if it has a short summary of the whole process, that triggers interest to surf towards more information. This is what we tried to accomplish with our video report. Note the pace, rythm and transitions of the visual language: very different from paragraphs and chapters in written communication. This is fundamental to keep the attention.

Monday 27 October 2008

Workshop aftercare

A workshop is a means towards an end. In our case by bringing together the two worlds of environment and security in a roundtable workshop we aimed to generate one or more joint ventures . We therefore had planned a reception after the workshop. Here informal discussions on next steps took place. Video interviews on what had been most meaningful and what next steps we should take, may have stimulated those conversations. In the end there were ideas for a joint workshop during the next WCC where experts from both worlds would play a war games and deepen scenarios. There were ideas to put the issue on the agenda of NATO, to develop distance education courses on the ecosystem approach and sustainable development for peace keeping troops. And to influence the Copenhagen UNFCCC COP. This week we will send a thank you note to all participants with a link to the video report of the workshop. And the invitation to share with us last thoughts on the workshop and next steps. In the meantime we have made appointments for meetings with donors and partners to realize the various joint ventures.

Saturday 25 October 2008

The sky is the limit

The new sustainable development leadership has to show us the way not only how to deal with the climate and financial crisis but also how to deal with morality. The climate and financial crisis are two sides of the same coin: a moral crisis. A culture of grab what you can grab, everyone does it. You have to score now. A culture of theatre, idols and spectacles. Greed is good. Happiness equals possession of goods. The sky is the limit. Both crisis make it clear that we have now reached that limit.

We have to change. Environmental experts point at innovative energy systems, new CO2 markets, innovative natural resource management. Financial experts ask for new financial systems, national and international. A new balance between government, private enterprise and society. A new approach to what real added value is. Will that lead to positive change? To sustainability?

Only when we also tackle the morality crisis, the new systems will work. We need a morality that balances individual freedom with social equity and justice. A middle way between doing what you like and interfering in the private domain. Between autonomy and solidarity. Between emotions and ratio. Leadership training should not only focus on the knowledge and skills we need for the external world. But also for the internal world that guides what we think and do. Lao Tse, Aristotle, Erasmus, Ghandi into the curriculum...!

Sunday 19 October 2008

Future Leadership Training

Supporting the next generation of sustainable development leadership was the title of one of the workshops during the World Conservation Congress. It was well attended. What struck me was the amount of young enthusiastic professionals consuming silently an hour of speeches and the ceremony of signing an MoU. The speeches were about how CEOs and young professionals of sustainable development institutions had planned their career and what made them land into their current position. This 'framed' the discussion, that followed.

During the signing ceremony, there was a bit of a dissonant, when a young professional tried to make a point. Although he referred to an earlier meeting that I did not attend, what came across for me was that young people to a certain extent hold the older generation – the leaders of the sustainable development organizations included - responsible for the current crisis. They don’t like to hear: “we are too old for change: it is up to the next generation to make the real changes”, or words of a similar meaning.

For me he was at the core of the leadership discussion. If current leaders cannot change and walk the talk of new values and lifestyle, they cannot ask of the next generation, once they make place for them in the system, to say: “No, I don’t need that UN salary and the lifestyle coming with it. What the world now needs is leaders that simply live simple. Leaders that say no to personal or short term organizational gain when that goes at the costs of other people, the organization or society. Leaders that live the universal values that will make the earth a place where diverse cultures live together in a civilized manner.”

Leadership training should be about how current leaders learn and change. About what makes them take decisions to generate transformational change in systems, and how in the process they have had to change themselves to have a real impact. It is one thing to learn how to become a CEO or get a job in a sustainable development organization, but it is quite another thing to look at a range of challenges for leadership positions in societies all over the world that may not have the same pay but are similarly or even more important for the changes we need. The workshop ended with the hope of one participants that the next Congress we have an MoU with more than 400 organizations.

Wednesday 8 October 2008

Innovative communication approaches

Beyond Jargon is the title of a workshop during the WCC in Barcelona in which National Geographic and CEC showcased new approaches to communicate the environment. Here are links to a few of the initiatives presented.
Earth Gauge is trying to transform weathercasts into "envirocasts." It helps to tweak TV weathercasts to provide context as well as content. In this way TV weather helps connect the dots and become a leading source of environmental education.
LIFEONTERRA is a collaborative filmspace and laboratory exploring the questions and ideas on the cutting-edge of science and at the farthest horizons of the natural world. The "TERRA: The Nature of Our World" video podcast launched in October 2005. TERRA films have been downloaded over one million times.
INCEF stands for integrating conservation and health through communications. It is dedicated to building capacity among local populations to create and disseminate their own conservation, health and community awareness films and other media on issues of local importance with respect for local languages and culture.
“Research Ambassador Program” (RAP) to facilitate the establishment of direct communication between scientists and the general public. One of its projects is to investigate methods to sustainably grow mosses for the horticultural trade, Research Ambassadors enlisted the help of inmates at the Cedar Creek Correctional Center to grow mosses.

Friday 3 October 2008

Workshop preparation - do's and don'ts

There are different ways to prepare a workshop. Over the last few months I have been working together with scientists to prepare for a workshop next week during the World Conservation Congress in Barcelona. Being confronted with their normal apprach, I learned there are two different ways to prepare a workshop. You can focus on the content or on the impact. It makes quite a difference in organization. Click on the matrix to see the differences for yourself.