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


Monday 31 August 2009

Memos do not communicate

Communication is like a sieving process, only part of what we communicate stays behind in our brain. People only remember a very small percentage of a speech, a publication, or presentation. Moreover what we remember is often ‘coloured’ by un-intended messages from body language, titles, illustrations or other contexts. So we cannot take it for granted that if we have provided certain information in a report, a brochure or speech that our audience will also remember it. They may remember other less important things, they may even have a wrong impression of what we intended to communicate. Good communication is making sure that we are in control as much as possible of what stays behind in the communication strainer. Plain talk, repetition of messages, framing, choice of words (some words sell a message better than others), images, graphics – these are some of the tools to control the communication residue. As my client wants scientific proof of what I tell him, I finally refer to the NYT article why isn't the brain green?

Friday 28 August 2009

Looking into green 'claims'

People today are inundated with products, news stories, advertisements, and reports on environmental change—an overload that has helped raise awareness and concern regarding environmental issues, but that has done little to win consumer trust.
Last week I came across the Futerra study on industries in the US engaged in greenwashing, and those environmental claims most likely to be greenwash. Earlier they had published similar research from the UK and France. Futerra shows that greenwash has boosted confusion and distrust. It found that the industry - advertizers and their clients - don't do enough to prevent this accelerating negative feedback loop. For UK consumers it designed a list to spot greenwash symptoms. For US companies a checklist to assess whether they are on the right track.

Tuesday 18 August 2009

Interactive simulation games on CC

Interactive simulation games can force you to sharpen your thinking, help you to see a complex reality in more simple models and clarify what is really needed to address issues such as climate change. Dominic Stucker from the Sustainability Institute just brought to my attention some interactive system models that can provide such insights on climate change. C-LEARN let me experience that all countries have to contribute. The Bath tube taught me the fundamental difference between levelling off and reducing emissions. The Climate Momentum let me experience the difference in effect between the scenarios that are debated. And the MIT Simulator let me feel strongly that positive change only begins to take off we change consumption patterns.

Sunday 9 August 2009

From human to fossil energy

The dream of the boy who sells me slippers in the traffic jam, is to become a taxi driver. I wonder: is progress just a change in the energy we use? Immediately the street gives me the answer.

Leadership branding in Ghana

Even the district forestry manager has Obama and the Ghanese president on his T-shirt. Billboards along the roads branded the new leadership in the weekend Obama visited.

Milestones Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue

"A multi-styakeholder dialogue is a process, you cannot plan." I hear from the staff in the project, I have to evaluate. When I show them the milestones and policy life cycle, they recognize it and start giving examples from their experience. One project manager refects: "I wish we had seen this earlier, I could have planned my capacity building better. Now when the demand came for interest-based negotiations my training budget was used on less important topics."

New knowledge input into a project

Many project managers feel during the course of the project the need for external and new knowledge input. Every time a workshop is organized for such input, the project gets new perspectives and a new direction. Such changes often generate resistance from project staff as the ongoing work is disrupted and some activities have to be rethought or restarted. This model of knowledge input is called the relay model. More effcetive is the funnel model as right at the start of the project all knowledge areas are mapped and agreed upon, as are the procedures how to integrate new knowledge in the project. This model implies a feasibility study, an inception period or at least a well prepared kick off meeting.


A still life makes you think. How real is the image? When did I have such a feeling of mystery or nostalgy, the composition evokes in me? Sometimes it is the title that triggers and directs our perception. In our dicussion on his new catalogue, Marco Gasparri explains me that in his painting ‘Thoughts’ the penetration and complexity of an emerging idea is expressed through a small curling thread of rope at the edge of a marble table. The freshly picked orange refers to the spark of life. The combination of colours from orange to different degrees of amber of the glass bottle and the background supports the interconnectedness of an idea with the rest of the world. My thoughts change to beyond the painting: can we see reality without all these associations and thoughts?