Friday, April 29, 2011

Video interview; a simple method summarizing a discussion

After having an intensive discussion about work and social life as a development professional in Kenya, a young professional from Mensen met een Missie interviewed a senior. Practicing the focused conversation method was one of the practicals of the training facilitation methods, which was organised by the Hendrik Kraemer Institute on the 19th and 21st April, 2011.
See video - interview young professional meets senior professional

Participatory video making is on of the participatory methods, which are applied by facilitators. The group becomes the producer of a movie. They do the research, create the scenario, do the filming and finally edit and compile the video. All with the support of a facilitator and a videomaker/ editor. A video interview is one of the most easiest steps in getting acquainted with videomaking. During the training facilitation methods, it appeared that a visual interview is an excellent and simple tool in summarizing a discussion. And therefore videomaking is an excellent additional tool for facilitators or project managers using it for summarizing discussions or monitoring & evaluation purposes.

Stimulation to practice!
The training facilitation methods focused during the first day on the basic principles of facilitation:
The second day was centered towards practicing and feedback.
'The training was inspirational and very useful!', commented a participant. 'The practical I did on dialogue in conflict areas using the KOLB learning cycle was an eye-opener for me. I am planning to conduct a session on this topic for my colleagues within the next couple of weeks. The training has inspired me to practice the lessons learned soon after the course.'
The Hendrik Kraemer Institute is planning a following course on the 23rd and 26th May, 2011.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Organisational development advisors as a biologist

Organisational development advisors can take more the role promoting the art of a biologist. This is one of the conclusions I drew in discussions with my colleagues from Nedworc Association and research I conducted the last couple of months about Chimpansee behaviour in organisations. Frans de Waal and Patrick van Veen published a number of books about the similarities between chimpansee communities and organisations. Chimpansees are the animals which are genetically the closest to human beings. Ninety-eight percent of our genes are similar.
Chimpansee versus human behaviour
Many of our instincts and intuitive decisions as humans can still be related on how chimpansees behave. In a recent television documentary Frans de Waal provides an interesting example. "When I am in a hurry and snatch a place in a parking plot in front of somebody else, I can always give a rational reason why I did that. However in most cases my intuitive behaviour is different. What if the other car had been driven by a goodlooking lady? Or by a physical strong man? What would have been the behaviour in that occasion?" A lot of communication and co-operation in modern organisations is still based on authentic prehistoric behaviour.
See video: Documentary with Frans de Waal about chimpansee behaviour
Get Microsoft Silverlight
Bekijk de video in andere formaten.

Each chimpansee community is composed of a complex interaction between individuals. The community is led by the Alfa man, followed by the Beta man. The most powerful chimpansee is not definitely physically the strongest or the most intelligent. The leader is the one who is best in building relationships. He is gracious and shares food and favours with fellow chimpansees. Grooming is a normal practice in chimpansee groups. Two individuals have an intemate contact, showing they are good friends. In organisations a similar behaviour can be observed when people have lunch with each other. Eating is a social habit, when you prefer to be with the ones you feel safe and comfortable. This is where informal alliances are created and built.
Social interaction between chimpansees is based on checks and balances. If I do something for you, you do something for me. Most Alfa men get their leadership based on support, they have gained in their community. Credibility in human organisations is gained by relationship building. Investments are reciprocal. It is much easier to get things accomplished in case you have invested time in somebody else.
Hierarchy is the central pillar in chimpansee communities. The Alfa man is the main decisionmaker about food distribution and selection of sexual partners. If the community is stable, conflicts are hardly noticed. The group looks for food, plays and takes time for strengthening relationships. What a striking comparison with human organisations, that are stable!
An interesting habit is how chimpansees deal with conflicts. Disputes take mostly not more than a few minutes. Short after that the chimpansees resolve the conflict by embracing each other. How about humans? There are still people who take their anger to their homes without resolving. Is there something to learn?
Positions start to move in chimpansee communities, when there are external threats (e.a. competing chimpansee communities, food shortage or natural disasters) or internal changes. New chimpansees joining the community, change of leadership, illness or death of chimpansee members make the group to enter a new stage. How is it in organisations? When positions change in the organisation, the whole system starts to move. Uncertainty and change create by definition fear and resistance in organisations.
Act as a biologist - Observe!
Frans de Waal concludes; 'Don't believe what you read in reports or in questionnaires!' There are still a lot of issues we do not to tend to tell the exact truth. 'Will we confess that we are drinking much more alcohol as we say?' As such it is also in organisations. A lot of times the organizational structure in an annual report does not reflect the real power balance in an organization. Financial results, profit and loss balances and client satisfactory figures do not always show the reality. Therefore much more information about organisational develoment can be gathered by observation. How is the behaviour of people? Do they feel happy, relaxed or are they stressed? Who is eating with whom during lunch time? How is hierarchy demonstrated in the organisation? Does the director have privelliges, such as a parking place? And how are the leaders interacting with their staff?
Change agents
Observing is one of the keys in analysing the status of an organization. The truth is embedded in the 'here and now'. Key people in organizational change are the ones who feel committed to the organisation and have a passion to sustain it. They are characterised by a positive, critical behaviour, aware of the changes that are going on. They are called the 'Change Agents'. They are not always the ones high in the hierarchy, but play an essential role to organizational development. They are the interesting people for organizational advisors to work with. If they can be assisted in developing the art of a biologist and relationship building, it can bring an organisation a step further in its process of development.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Outcome Mapping versus Logical Framework Approach

Since recent years Outcome Mapping has been winning recognition and popularity amongst donors and international development organisations as a new tool for Project Cycle Management. Sofar the Logical Framework Approach (LFA) has been the most applied method for planning, monitoring and evaluating projects. What is Project Cycle Management (PCM)?; What is the Logical Framework? What is Outcome Mapping?
Project Cycle Management (PCM) is a management method introduced by the European Commission (1992) for the identification, formulation (appraisal), implementation and evaluation of projects. It aims at assuring quality through a consistent approach to all phases of the intervention cycle, ensuring beneficiary-orientation (relevance), a comprehensive perspective on interventions (feasibility and sustainability) and effective monitoring and evaluation. (Source: PCM Group)
Both the Logical Framework Approach (LFA) and OM (Outcome Mapping) are tools for doing PCM.
The LFA method is a step-by-step procedure applying specific techniques in a participatory workshop setting for creating ownership among stakeholders, better focus on beneficiaries, realistic and measurable result-oriented objectives, quick decision-making, transparency of proposals and reporting, and easier management, monitoring and evaluation during the implementation of projects. (Source: PCM Group)

Outcome Mapping (OM) focuses on one specific type of result: outcomes as behavioural change. Outcomes are defined as changes in the behaviour, relationships, activities, or actions of the people, groups and organisations with whom a program works directly. OM calls them Boundary Partners. These outcomes can be logically linked to program's activities, although they are not necessarily caused by them. This is one of the main differences with the LFA method. The method is not aimed at measuring impact, since IDRC (the creator of this method) beliefs that measuring long term changes are almost impossible to measure and if there are changes, it is very hard to identify evidence which can claim if a project or program has attributed to this. IDRC beliefs it can limit the potential for learning with Boundary Partners.
OM is divided into three stages. The first stage, Intentional Design, helps to answer four questions: Why? (The vision of the project), Who? (the Boundary Partners), What? (the changes that are desired), and How? (the strategy and the activities). The second stage, Outcome and Performance Monitoring, provides a framework for monitoring the outcomes (change with Boundary Partners), strategy (implementation of activities and budget expenditure) and organisational development. The third stage, Evaluation Planning, helps the program identify evaluation priorities and develop an evaluation plan. (source: International Development Research Centre -IDRC)
Pro's and Con's of LFA and OM
Through the logical way of working in relating activities, to results, objectives and goals, the LFA method is considered to be linear, putting everything into boxes and therefore killing creativity. The time necessary for formulation and report writing is intensive and makes the approach burocratic and a 'Western model'. However, the LFA approach has still a lot of positive caracteristics. The method has been widely accepted as a tool for PCM with the European Union, Multilateral Donors and International Organisations. It provides a good basis for monitoring and evaluation through the formulation of indicators. The LFA is also excellent for budgetting. And through more than 30 years experience of working with this model, many donor organisations have simplified their reporting systems based on the LFA Approach. For example, MATRA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands) only allows a maximum of a 10 page report, indicating the main achievements and lessons in the area of sustainability, outcomes, implementation of the strategy, budget expenditure and organisational development.
The strength of OM is its non-linear approach focusing on behavioural change of the partners and beneficiaries. The method allows more space for creative ideas and is more prepared for unexpected changes or surprises. Changes are more easily measurable and provide a basis for using modern monitoring tools such as video, fotos and social media.
However, the method also has its disadvantages. As similar to the LFA Approach, OM has also an intensive and elaborated step-by-step approach where a lot of information needs to be documented. Also the formats for evaluation (The Outcome, Strategy and Performance journal) create a big amount of paper work and reporting. Another big disadvantage is that the method has not yet proven itself. There are not many examples of written project proposals, planning formats, budgets and reports based on the OM model. More practise and sharing of experiences in the application of OM is needed before it can prove itself as a method.
Matching science with the reality
During the training Capacity Development (conducted by Simon Koolwijk) which was held on 12 & 14th April, 2011 at the Hendrik Kraemer Institute (HKI) theoretical models such as the LFA Approach, Outcome Mapping, the ECDPM Model and other project management and organisational analysis tools (see ICCO-Cad toolbox site) were matched with the reality.
Based on case studies, the participants from Mensen met een Missie and Theatre Embassy learned that more than 85 % of the monitoring and evaluation is done informally. Based on informal conversations during lunches, dinners or travels in the car, and observation visits information is collected on how development projects are developing. The formal moments are used to discuss and compile all the informal impressions to a report. Theoretical models and approaches are helpful in this proces and stimulate partners to meet, discuss and draw conclusions. However, the prove of good project management is in the 'informal'. Therefore, to become a successful capacity development advisor or project manager you should invest a lot of time in relationship building, listening and observing. More about practical experiences on what you can encounter as a capacity development advisor, you can read 'Everything you always wanted to know about capacity development'. Another model that is complementary to Outcome Mapping (OM) and that is gaining popularity in measuring behavioural change, is the 'Most Significant Change Method'. Read More at MSC - How to measure behavioural change?

In early 2012 Facili2transform will offer a training course were a critical review will be held about the Logical Framework, Outcome Mapping and Most significant Change approach. The training  'Learning together from Results' will not only focus on these new methods for development projects, but will also pay attention to modern monitoring and evaluation methods such as video making and social media.  Read for more information;  'Learning together from Results'

Friday, April 8, 2011

Moldovan youngsters present participatory videos

"Young people interviewing adults in their community about the life as a youngster...."
"I want to become a journalist and go to New York!" - Youngsters share their dreams in a sleigh.
"Dancing, taking care of the ecology, cultural festivities"
"A slapstick bringing youngsters together through the mobile telephone...."
Four different stories told by video through the perspective of young people. All video's had in common that they were directed, filmed and produced by youth from 4 communities (Ulmu, Vadul Rascov, Cotiujenii Mari and Varnita) showing implicitely and explicitely what they had accomplished during the last 2 years. During the Conference Youth (R)Evolution, discussing the State of the Art of Youth Work in Moldova on the 24 - 25 March, 2011 the videos were presented.
See video:

Participatory Videomaking was one of the final training activities during the project 'Youth in the Center' (financed by Matra). The project aims to build sustainable structures for youth development in Moldova implemented by Procommunity Centre with support from Kontakt der Kontinenten & Hogeschool Windesheim (Netherlands) and Proni Centre for Social Education (Croatia).
Aims of the process
The process of participatory videomaking was focused at:
* supporting the youth from each village to vizualize on what they had accomplished as a youth club;
* making them acquainted with modern techniques of participation and do something new and different;
* strengthening the teamwork
* developing the local capacity of the implementing organisation, Procommunity Centre
Each of the youth clubs had a 2 - 3 day training which guided them to develop the video. First of all the youngsters got an orientation about video making and got the opportunity to develop a film scenario. Two weeks in advance of the training, the youngsters had to do research in their community on what locations they would like to film and which people they would like to involve and interview.
During the training, the youth learned about the principles of video making, practised with the camera and developed the final film scenario. On the second day they filmed, watched and discussed what they filmed and selected the main shots for their movie.
For the youth clubs who wanted to continue (only one), a third day was focused on the editing process. Time was used for discussions on how to compile the final draft of the video. After the training each youth club selected 2 - 3 represenatives who were involved in the final editing process with the trainers. See video on how process was facilitated in Ulmu village, november 2010.
Support in the video making
The training was conducted by two professors and filmmakers from the Filmacademy, Chisinau, Moldova. They explained on how to make a movie, how to film and apply basic important principles of videomaking. The process of facilitation was provided by Procommunity Centre. Three camera's were used for the filming and Final Procut was used for the editing. (Another user friendly program for video editing is Adobe Premiera elements). The support in editing was given by the two professors and by students from the film academy. Video editing is quite an intensive process and it requires quite an amount of practise. Therefore support was given by the filmacademy in this area.
How to build trust and make people comfortable?
Based on experience the pitfall in video making is the believe, that everybody likes video making. The reality is a bit different. Especially people in the age from 40 or above can have a feeling of resistance in being upfront or behind the camera. It also applies less for people below 40, but still they can have an objection. Therefore, the process of trust building is important. In advance of the video making, the people and parties involved should be clear about the objectives of the process and also should be aware on how the movies are disseminated and for what purpose. The technique and utilisation of camera's is also frigthening for some people. Therefore, we already used the video camera's starting from an early stage in the project. During the summercamps, trainings and exchange visits youngsters were already given the opportunity to practise with a digital filmcamera. During the second summercamp of the project a photo workshop was held to make the youngsters enthousiastic about the possibilities of visual technologies. Youngsters from Ulmu village published even a photo - film version at youtube - called Pro Young. When the participatory video making trainings started the youngsters and their support environment were already used to the possibilities and limitations of the technology of videomaking. A gradual and slow introduction of digital camera's in advance of a participatory video making training is helpful for a successful process.
Participatory videos from each youth club
The participatory video's from each of the four youth clubs can be viewed at youtube. See video's Youth club Ulmu, Youth club Cotiujenii Mari, Youth club Varnita & Youth club Vadul Rascov.

If you would like to respond to this article, please feel free to leave a reply.