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


Tuesday 30 December 2008

Corporate Season's Greetings

How to send seasons greetings on behalf of the company and still be simple and personal? The closer people are to us, the more personal and direct (face to face, phone, sms) we convey our best wishes. Privately most people still send greetings cards by normal mail. Companies are learning to avoid the footprint of the traditional greeting card and increasingly send electronic greetings. What can they do to increase the satisfaction of the receiver and add to their reputation? A few tips:
Design a card yourself and insert it in the text window of the mail. Don't use free or commercial online greetings cards. Use a photo, a drawing or painting. Be careful with music or video (time and audience). Make sure the message is short, simple and personal. Don't forget your company's tagline and website. Have staffs send the card to their own relations. Individual mailings cost more time but offer staffs the possibility for an extra personal message.

Friday 19 December 2008

Illustrating climate change tipping points

A picture says more than a thousand words when we talk about the climate change tipping points. "A few decades ago we thought that melting glaciers in the Himalayas would be an issue for our grand children, a decade ago for our children, but today we realize we will have to cope with it ourselves", said A.K.Singh, Air Marshal, India Air Force (retired), during a conference in Paris, early November. John Navis took the photo of Rongbuk Glacier in the Mount Everest range at the top in 1968. The photo at the bottom he took in 2007. See the short video of the Greenpeace expedition and Novis' story.

Climate change: the opposite of chess

Metaphors can help to communicate difficult concepts. During a conference in Brussels earlier this week, Ambassador Olof Ehrenkrona compared the complexity of climate change with chess. In chess when you reach the end game there are less and less pieces on the board. With climate change it is the opposite: the closer you get to the end game (implementation measures) the more pieces are on the board. He quoted Clemenceau: "la guerre est une chose trop sérieuse pour être confiée à des militaires". Similarly we cannot leave the combat against climate change to the environmentalists, we need to bring in all sectors and listen to them to find the right solutions.

Thursday 18 December 2008

Effective project presentation

How to engage in effective project presentation and how to steer projects on main policy lines? My client asks me to attend a meeting of the advisory board of the organization. Project managers present their projects. They sum up activities they have undertaken. They can go on for hours. The board - it is the first time they are briefed on the projects - starts asking questions about all kind of details. Soon the meeting reaches the point of micro-management. Later I am asked how to avoid this. I share a simple format that allows an advisory board to stay at the main policy level. It is advisable to keep the presentation short not more than 5 - 7 minutes and allow enough time for questions and feedback.

Wednesday 10 December 2008

Project debriefing: biting your tongue

A debriefing session with the donor on the results of the project is an exercise of talking and especially listening. The client I am working for just had such a debriefing. I had proposed to do it this time differently from his normal routine of giving a long presentation and answer questions. So we started with shortly reformulating the objectives of the project. Then we showed a short video with the highlights of the process and products. Afterwards we asked questions: what was most meaningful for them, what questions the images triggered, to what extent the project met their expectations, how it added value to their policy and what next steps they would advise us. We had to bite our tongue, not to start giving more information, just listen and recapitulate. This way we collected useful feedback and building bricks for a follow-up, partly 'owned' now by the donor.