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


Wednesday 24 February 2010

Communication management

When you have enough time with a protagonist, spokes person or a resource person, use the opportunity to reach out to different audiences through different media. Last year the Fundación Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente did just that: a lecture and workshop for the audiences of the Casa Encendida, interviews to newspapers and magazins, a professional dialogue with their staff and input for an educational video. UNED, the Spanish Distance Education Channel used the input for a module in a course on sustainable development: Verdades y mentiras sobre el cambio climatico. The title is inspired on the lecture I gave an hour after this interview. The video also features on YouTube.

Monday 22 February 2010

Segment your audience

"We need to convince people about the importance of conservation". This was the first reaction of most respondents in a quick scan on communicating tiger conservation. Asked what key change agents could be, most came up with a further segmentation of 'people': villagers, forest department and politicians. One respondent even took a next step in segmentation: "we should identify the movers and shakers of key groups; communicate through them by framing the issue in terms that are relevant and functional for them". For me this would mean investing in target group research, dialogues and partnerships. And in deep listening when we talk to the various stakeholder groups. It reminds me of the change from a deficiency approach to a contextual approach:

Sunday 21 February 2010

Map proves PM wrong

"Natura 2000 impacts negatively the balance between ecology and economy." A few weeks ago our Prime Minister Balkenende wrote this to Barroso the Chair of the European Commission. He sketched a picture that Natura 2000 was a far too heavy obstacle to economic recovery and progress in our small country. In an article in one of our major newspapers two ecologists argue it is the other way around. They illustrate their point with a map. It shows the Dutch Natura 2000 sites in their European context. The sites cover just over 8% of our territory and are mostly water areas. Most of the land surface - where economic activities take place - is white. The few sites on land, the ecologists argue, are under heavy threat by nitrogen from agricultural activities. The map for me says more than the whole article.

Thursday 18 February 2010

Three examples of workshop preparation

The success is in the preparation. When a workshop is about public participation and you want to focus on impact it is good to articulate the demand. A workshop for staff of a sustainability institute is meant to update them on public participation and social marketing strategies. Telephonic interviews clarify the objectives of the management. An on line multiple choice test for staffs assesses current knowledge, attitudes and skills.
A UN workshop with representatives of government, academia, private sector and NGOs is meant to generate options for national policies and priorities for international action. A quick scan through telephonic interviews provides me with their views, perceptions and questions. This helps to brief speakers and to organize the various time slots.
A workshop of stakeholders in the conservation of a big mammal aims to formulate a communication strategy. Telephonic interviews with different participants about the issue, the role of communication, potential change agents, messages, current attitudes of major groups and perceived priorities provides insights of current knowledge, attitudes and skills and helps me plan the various timeslots.
The last questions always is: “what would make this workshop a success for you and what other good advice can you give me?”