FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Here are some of the most common questions we get asked and the questions we ask in return.

Who needs to be part of this?
Making change happen in a complex situation is not a project to be implemented, it is a set of relationships to be understood and developed. Many initiatives fail because some of the key actors and their organizations aren't involved. What are the most important relationships underlying the situation as you now know it? How do we get the right people involved?

Why can't I motivate our people with a passionate speech?
We have learned that people get energized and involved in important initiatives when certain conditions are met. These conditions are contained in the following questions which we work to help our clients answer:

What is the compelling vision that would draw people to get engaged in this initiative?
How will people (or your specific stakeholders) be able to make meaningful contributions towards that vision? How will people (or your specific stakeholders) be able to get directly involved, or engaged in making change happen? Many situations are surrounded by overwhelmingly difficult obstacles - what is hopeful in this situation?

Who can you trust?
The "soft" stuff helps you get to the "tough" stuff. Getting to know and trust the people involved in the collaboration is the fast track to action. We believe that one of the most important aspects of creating constructive change in complex situations is to develop productive relationships with and between the people (and their sponsoring organizations) who are willing to get involved. Even if the initial project unravels (which sometimes happens), if strong "social capital" is built up between the players, any number of alternative approaches can and will also be possible. When we work with you, it is this long-term relationship, the "social capital bank account" that we are trying to help you build. Who do you already have a strong relationship with? Where do you need to develop relationships? Where are relationships missing? What opportunities already exist to invest in the social capital bank account?

What kind of leadership is needed?
Change for the good requires leadership from everyone. And it requires everyone involved to see themselves as having a leadership role, and exercising this leadership appropriately. Our questions are: Where are the current leaders in this initiative? What support do they need? Who needs to learn new ways of practicing their leadership in this situation? Where do you need leadership? Who is best able to work across boundaries?

How long will it take to see results?
Intentions are good. Constructive action is better. Visible, meaningful action is important. Complex "messes" are interesting and engaging to work on, but they can also become "mission impossible." We believe that having a vision, goals and ideals are important, there is also a need to see progress and to describe or measure results. The question we like to ask is: If you are serious about this, where are the opportunities to make a real difference right now...or very soon?

What kind of tools, skills or knowledge are needed?
Please use what you've learned from us at home! We are interested in enabling you or your group to become fully capable of moving ideas forward yourself-regardless of the setting. We will design them and help you learn to use them anywhere. In other words, we would like you to become so skilful that our services are redundant! Who are you willing to commit to this initiative now and when can we start to work with them?

Why does this keep me awake at night?
Great question, one many are afraid to ask. We will explore this question and others with you. We also love to link our clients to networks which include people who have "already been down that road," or who have already learned from the questions everyone's afraid to ask. Our extensive international linkages to other practitioners in this field means we are aware of people and places where similar changes have happened, and we will link you to these networks so that your work and learning can continue and be multiplied. What questions are you afraid to ask?

Where's the fun?
Complex challenges are tough to work with, but hardly worth doing unless we can laugh about them (and ourselves) sometimes. We look forward to meeting you and learning how to work together enjoyably. What would make this initiative most enjoyable to you?

 

© Ray Gordezky, Ingrid Richter