Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Why structured thinking!???

Structured thinking?  Does it kill ideas or does it help to bring new ideas and perspectives? Writing down each action and step to the most basic detail is very challenging, when you are preparing a training.  So....,  after you welcome the participants,  what will you do?  What next?  What next?

Fifteen years ago, when I got my Trainers of Trainers course in the USA,  it made me very angry that I was challenged by my senior trainer to go through each training session step-by-step.  Looking back after so many years,  I appreciate and see the usefulness in getting the discipline of understanding each little move you are making in preparing a training.  It helps me to master the skill of conducting a training and it even makes me more flexible in initiating new elements in a training when the group is asking for it. Actually it helps me even to become more creative, since I am understanding the basics of involving and engaging a group.

Watch the video:  'Structured thinking exercise' 


The art of training depends on knowing the details and how to apply them.  It is how little children learn to walk and talk. The same applies when we learn something new..... When I am doing something new  which fascinates me,  I am discovering each time new small  essential elements  in mastering a new way of working.
The last couple of years, I have discovered that learning something new creates curiousity, drive and energy.  That is why I try to challenge myself to renew my services and my trainings over and over. It is like the feeling a child will have towards getting the first day of walking!  

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Young Professional about virtual exchange

Since 2006, ICCOenKerkinActie and Togetthere enable Young Professionals (YPs) working on development to exchange experiences about their work. The YPs work for local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as capacity development advisor. Most of them work in isolation and have limited possibility to meet colleagues face-to-face to share experiences.

Each year two discussion rounds, taking five weeks each, are organised virtually where the YPs share experiences about how to strengthen the operations of their partner organisations. The group is using a peer-to-peer coachingsmodel. Most YPs participate two rounds. Just before starting a discussion round, the YPs are asked by an online survey to share the topics which keep them awake at night or have a high degree of urgency for them. Some of the selected topics deal with: "How to make my work sustainable?" "How to create local ownership for what I am contributing?", or "How to position myself as professional in a different cultural context?" .

After this survey, key individuals, who are willing to take a leadership role in the exchange of topics related to their work, meet via Skype with the online facilitator to elaborate the objectives and facilitation process. The role of the online facilitator is to design the online process based on the wishes and needs of the group as expressed in the survey. So far, D-groups and Skype have been used as the most effective and popular social media for exchange.

A discussion round takes average around 5 weeks. Case studies or key questions, introduced by the YPs, are mostly used as a basis for discussion. At the end of each discussion, one of the participants writes a note which is published at this blogpost 'Everything you always wanted to know about capacity development'. Literature is collected by asking people for links to interesting websited or publications. These references and benchmarks are documented at a virtual platform at ICCO-Cad wiki. In this way, the group builds a share memory.

Recently one of the Young Professionals shared her experiences by a video interview. View the video:

Music on video:
Song:  Una MaƱana: Musicians:  Omar Meza and Fernando Rey, for more information contact: e-mail. yoshihatsukatana@gmail.com

Some comments which were shared by other YPs in evaluations last year:
"The way you experience the discussions and what you get out of it is of course different for each.....When I think back of the discussion I am not able to reproduce all the contents directly, but the first thing I recall is that feeling that the (pre)discussions were good moments to take a step back, to reflect and to share experiences."

"Just being able to share is valuable in itself. It helped me to concretely formulate my questions and issues I encounter."

The online exchange was facilitated by Simon Koolwijk, Facili2transform. More about online facilitation, you can read at Simon's website http://www.facili.nl/

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Most Significant Change (MSC): How to measure behavioural change?

'The literacy rate has increased with 20 % in five years!' 'Fifty percent of the young people, who participated in reading and writing classes have acquired a job within a year after their studies!' 'The number of parents, who take on volunteer responsibilities in the Youth Centre have increased with 30 parents in two years!'
These are just three examples of project indicators, which can be formulated according to the Logical Framework (LF) principles for a youth development project in a big slum area in Kampala City, Uganda. However, most statistical indicators are difficult to measure. And what do statistics say about structural change?

Mostly change can not be liniarly and logically explained......
Most structural change starts with behavioural change. Many times I hear people express after an inspirational workshop about social media; 'Tomorrow I am going to open an account at Twitter!', 'I will update my profile at Linkedin!' 'I will more actively participate in discussion groups! '
However, one month later people who expressed these statements, have not changed their habits. They are still not on Facebook, not on Twitter and hardly participate in Linkedin discussions.
Then suddenly, members of the group of people who participated in the social media training, loose their job. The jobless situation creates a new perspective. What do I want? How does my network look like? This is the moments habits and behaviour start to change. Linked in profiles are updated, a Twitter account is activated and regularly used and stories are shared at Facebook.
Was it the social media training that changed people? Was it the jobless situation that confronted people with a new situation? Was it the network around these people that made them change? And what was the attribution of the social media training event to this change? And what would have happened if people had not lost their jobs?
As you can read, the reality of change and development can not be explained logically and liniarly. When people attend a training, it does not automatically mean that they will start to change their habits and attitude. Change mostly comes gradually and is fostered by many other influences than training or projects. External influences (economic or a political crises, technological changes) or drastic personal changes (loss of a job, dramatic event in the family, health related problems) can be an accelerator of change.

Most Significant Change (MSC)
The Most Significant Change (MSC) provides an answer to the aforementioned dilemma. The MSC-technique is a form of participatory monitoring and evaluation. It involves many stakeholders. The approach provides data on impact and outcomes that can be used to help assess the performance of a programma as a whole. The technique is an excellent complementary tool to 'Outcome Mapping (OM)'. Outcome Mapping (OM) is a planning tool as part of the Project Cycle Management Approach, where planning and monitoring of behavioural change is one of the basic principles. The MSC-technique can also be complementary to the Logframe Approach, especially when there are no pre-defined indicators and measurement of behavioural change is part of the process. Read more - The OM versus the LF approach.
How does MSC work? ***
MSC has a step based approach where personal stories from key stakeholders are collected, analyzed and verified. One of the key steps is the phase of defining the 'Domain of Change' and collecting the stories. This is the phase where the MSC-question is asked for a specific change in a domain.
For example:
(1) Looking back over the last month, (2) what do you think was, (3) the most significant (4) change (5) in the quality of people's lives (6) in this community?
Three to five domains are a manageable number for conducting a MSC-evaluation. Mostly stories are collected on a written half A-4 page of paper. Whereafter the stories are collected, analyzed, and verified. An important part is the process of drawing conclusions, lessons and recommendations. Involvement of the right stakeholders determines the quality of the outcome of the evaluation.

Video as a tool for Most Significant Change (MSC)
Video is also an excellent tool to collect 'Most Significant Stories'. One-minute video messages or Testimonials (see an example of Simon Koolwijk sharing an inspirational story about an IAF-Benelux Conference) are ways on how 'stories of change' can be collected.

Training in Project Cycle Management
The MSC-technique was one of the topics discussed during the training Project Cycle Management (PCM) which was held at the Hendrik Kraemer Institute (HKI) on the 4th July, 2011 and conducted by Simon Koolwijk. A Development Professional from ICCOenKerkinActie was prepared using and getting acquainted with the principles of PCM and the Logical Framework Approach. During the discussions reference was made to the Outcome Mapping (OM) and Most Significant Change (MSC) technique.
*** Reference is made to the handbook: The 'Most Significant Change' Technique - authors: Rick Davies and Jess Dart

Saturday, July 9, 2011

One-minute video messages

'Present your workshop in one minute!' or 'Share a Testimonial - an inspiring story in one-and-half minute!' It is a new experiment Simon Koolwijk launched recently with Video-maker/ Facilitator, Marc van Seters. Both facilitators have been asked by the International Association of Facilitators - Benelux to interview the workshopleaders of the Conference 'Facilitator as a {2nd} Profession' by video. This event having 26 workshops about facilitation will take place on the 23rd September, 2011 at Kontakt der Kontinenten, Soesterberg, The Netherlands.
Catching 'institutional inspiration'
Workshop announcements: In one-minute the workshop leaders tell about their first and second profession, what participants can expect and what they will take home. 'It is an excellent opportunity to get to know beforehand the people, who will attend the Conference', says Simon Koolwijk.
See video: workshop announcement: Facilitation on Twitter



Video testimonials are catching the inspirational experiences from past IAF-Benelux Conferences. Participants share experiences from past conferences, which changed their way of facilitation. 'Video is a tool which can catch 'institutional inspiration' through documenting memories and inspirational moments. It can bring 'inspiration' to a new group of people', adds Simon.
Each week new one-minute videos are posted at the Conference website 'Facilitation as {2nd} profession'. 'We try to get people already in the mood for the 23rd September '11', shares Simon The uploaded video's can be disseminated through social media such as twitter, linkedin, facebook, hyves and yammer.
Informing the network close to your personal network is an approach with is promoted by Business Boot Camp. Social media are an excellent tool to spread the message of such an interesting event and make people excited to join! For more one-minute video's follow the youtube channel of IAF-Benelux or the website: 'Facilitation as a {2nd} profession.