GIODN Official Blog
Be the Change – Training for new activists and organizers
- July 13, 2020
- Posted by: Dr. Cindy Banyai
- Category: Thoughts
This GIODN event was provided as a resource for those stepping into the community change and activism space for the first time. The structure of the session was based on the Planned Change Model, but Kurt Lewin, which has been around for over 100 years. This model is for managing change and Dr. Nancy Zentis tells the story of how she saw this in the 80’s for implementing change in the airline industry. She outlined the eight components needed for implementing change including creating urgency, forming a powerful coalition, creating a vision for change, communicating the vision, empowering action, creating quick wins, building on the change, and making it stick. For example, in the event of COVID-19, leaders used these steps in order to conclude that isolation and masks slowed the spread of the virus. This was used widespread until we learned more about it. The process of implementing change is not always linear and it may be necessary to loop back to further engage stakeholders and lay the groundwork for lasting change.
A changemaker takes on many roles. A changemaker is an organizer, or person who puts everything together. A changemaker is a visionary – someone who sees what is happening now and what they want the future to look like. A changemaker is an inspiration and a facilitator. They are also a team builder in order to get people in. They transfer knowledge to others, and are a coach and a conflict resolver.
Facilitating in Groups
As a facilitator, the first thing to do is establish ground rules. Ground rules are important in order to successfully work as a team to work on initiatives needed. Some sample ground rules include: participate actively, listen to others, share the airspace, one speaker at a time, speak respectively and seek to understand then be understood. You may not have to use this sample, there are times when you will ask a group what they think the ground rules should be and establish them together.
Patti Damman discusses the working assumptions for successful facilitation. It is best to assume that everyone has wisdom, we need everyone’s wisdom for the wisest result, there are no wrong answers, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts because groups come up with the best ideas and everyone will hear others and be heard. There should be someone at each meeting to review the group rules with the group and have everyone agree. This is not always an easy task so having someone other than the facilitator monitor round rules is a great way to keep the group running smoothly. As a facilitator, you might not be the leader. You need to have the mindset of how you’re going to manage the group. You can’t accomplish a task without effective human interaction skills.
The Parking Lot tool is used to keep the group focused on meeting objectives and used to capture ideas that are not related to the topic so they can be addressed later. The Parking Lot takes a form of a blank chart or piece of paper. When issues arise that are not tied to the topic, the facilitator captures them on the chart and posts for all to see. At the end of the session, parking lot issues are reviewed and prioritized for later discussion. When you have a meeting, you want to start off with an introduction, share the purpose and agenda of the meeting and also share the expectations, rules and responsibilities. Dr. Nancy Zentis likes to use an introduction activity called, ‘My Story.’ For this activity, you will distribute cards to all participants and have them write down 3 major events in their lives hat influenced them to attend the session. These events should be dated by each individual. When the group is finished, post the cards on a wall chart timeline and have participants share their stories with the group.
Tools for reflection: Dialogue – Stop, Write, Reflect, Report
Dialoging is a reflection process of writing down your thoughts about your insights and perspectives that increase the scope of our learning. In dialogue, individuals are encouraged to calmly voice their feelings, opinions and assumptions about a topic in an appreciative environment of suspended judgement. Dialoging is used to encourage individuals to reflect on their thoughts and share them in a non-judgmental environment to connect on a deeper level knowing they will not be judged or questioned. The rules of dialogue include listening actively, pausing, not judging, speaking openly and honestly, not countering what you hear, building upon what you hear and feeling free to talk or even remain silent.
Tools for Planning
Dr. Cindy Banyai discusses the planning tool she uses with community groups to understand the situation and desired change from their perspective. The Community Question Set helps work through individual thoughts and bring it to the group. The questions include: What story do you tell? What’s really going on? What challenges do you face? What do you trust to make a change? What are you willing to do? These questions can be put on banner paper with sticky notes for all participants to contribute, then discussed as a group after individual thoughts have been gathered. An important component when talking about community level change is getting people to interpret what is going on and make decisions, which is why the Community Question Set is successful.
Tools for Acting – Brainstorming (Prioritizing/Organizing Data)
The tools for acting involve brainstorming (prioritizing/organizing data), consensus building, goal setting-action planning and follow up actions. For a group to brainstorm goals, each person gets 15 minutes to decide on major goals and write them in the center of a piece of paper in order to be discussed and reviewed. Each person takes turns brainstorming ideas or activities, which Patti Dammann describes as the fun part of the process.
Tools for Acting – Consensus Building
When seeking consensus, the group will discuss how decisions will be made, whether it is yes/no, majority rule, etc. Each member should be polled and important issues should be decided by consensus. Consensus is tested by asking and using facts – not opinions as the basis for decisions. If there is a disagreement, ask for the reasons why, discuss them and ask for agreement.
Voting techniques can be used to reduce an access number of items. One technique is based on four votes. For the first vote, each member is given 3-5 votes to reduce list of 25 to 10. Each member will then take a second vote and be given three choices for the to reduce list from 10 to 6. For the third vote, each member will prioritize the top three options and consensus will then be achieved with one final choice.
Another voting technique that can be used it the Fist of Five. Putting up a fist means that the person can’t live with the decision and will likely block or leave the group if it is chosen. When a voter puts up one finger, this signifies that they don’t like the idea but won’t block it. However, they probably won’t contribute much. Putting up two fingers means they are not excited by the group decision but will do some work to support it. A vote with three fingers means they believe the decision is good and do some work. Four finger means people believe in the idea and will work hard to support it. Finally, five fingers mean the person really supports the decision and the voter might leave the group if that decision is not chosen. Ideally, you would like mostly three or four fingers in a group.
Tools for Acting – Create and Action Plan
Creating an actions plan means discussing the issue or need and defining the major goal to be accomplished. After this is agreed on by the group, the group should brainstorm ideas, activities and resources. The action steps to accomplish the goal should be written down in a timeframe. Lastly, you must identify who needs to be involved and what tasks need to be designated to whom.
Tools for Acting – Follow up Actions
A session should always end with feedback. Feedback helps you see what worked and what didn’t work. Constructive feedback is defined as “information that helps people decide if their behaviors have had the intended effects.” Giving feedback is a way share our thoughts, impressions and feelings with another person. How is it done? The STAR model is a successful technique when seeking feedback from a group. The STAR Models means maintaining self-esteem, explain the situation or task, focusing on facts/observations and not the person, describing the actions and results, listening and responding with empathy, asking for help, and lastly showing concern in the ability to change the situation.
A debrief could also be conducted in order to receive constructive feedback. This includes questions like: What worked? What didn’t work? What would you do differently next time? What are your takeaways? Each answer could be placed in a column for participants to rate highest to lowest.
Tips for coordinating
Dr. Cindy Banyai states that it is important to have a name and a message when trying to coordinate a community group. When using Facebook an Instagram for organizing, think about what your message is and come up with goals. Make sure to focus on what you are trying to accomplish and how you are going to accomplish it. In order to communicate, connect and recruit, there needs to be structure around the process.
Strategies for Handling Disruptive Behaviors
When disruptive behaviors arise in a group situation, it is critical to develop basic guidelines/ground rules and stick to them. The facilitator can improve the trust level of the group by using constructive feedback. It is important to focus on the process, reward appropriate supportive behaviors and even break into small group if needed. If disruptive behaviors are still present, it is smart to call a time out and come back to the issue later. Working with a co-facilitator can also help minimize disruptive behaviors and control the group. Lastly, conducting a debrief can help the group successfully and respectively voice their opinions or concerns.
1. Get to work
2. Stay Strong
3. Don’t forget to connect with other local organizations in this space, you are not alone!
Watch the mini-training here.