Archive for the ‘Just Stuff’ Category

Who else do you want to see at Show me the Change?

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

The conference has already attracted a great number of participants from a wide variety of backgrounds. And as this conference is not one where “experts” will be doing all the “talking to you”, the diversity of people will make for passionate and thought-provoking conversations.

If you have already registered, who else do you know who has something to share or someting to learn from this conference? Why not let them know that you’ll be there, and that you would value their participation and exchange of ideas.  You can download a conference e-card from here, which you can use to email those whom you think should also attend.

Download the conference e-card

Download the conference e-card

People matter!

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Evaluation of behaviour change. No mention of people there. Yet it’s people who are at the heart of behaviour change and evaluation. This was brought home to me vividly in this post from an aid worker in Haiti where assessments are an integral part of the response process.

As I write this, I’ve been in Haiti one day shy of a full month. And the truth is that I have spent the majority of my time here up to now chained to a desk. Yeah, I’ve done a few field visits and been to a few cluster meetings, but the reality is that what was most needed by my team was a “text bitch.” So that is what I was.

And so I confess that while I was very willing to do it, I was also a tiny bit disappointed two days ago to find that what was most needed from me was data-entry. Not having deep, intense, heart-wrenching conversations with earthquake survivors, not making big decisions about big numbers, not negotiating complex partnerships with diverse stakeholders.

Nope. Data-entry. Someone had to enter assessment data into an Excel spreadsheet. It is incredibly important to do it and do it accurately. And it’s also incredibly unglamorous. Me, my laptop computer, my iPod and a mountain of hand-written rapid assessment surveys.

About two thirds of the form was numerical, and so entering that data got to be pretty mechanical after the first hour or two. But that last third was all qualitative stuff: open-ended interview questions where at times the respondents appeared to have rambled or gone on wild tangents. But it didn’t take long to see obvious patterns emerging in the ways that people in Haiti seem to view their situation.

If those surveys that I entered are representative of the larger sample, more than anything else, people in Haiti are scared and hungry. Scared of another earthquake. Scared to sleep indoors. Those from host communities, are scared of all these people coming in who they don’t know. Some of them are scared of evil spirits. Many are scared of evil people.

There are no jobs. They have no money. Frequently listed coping mechanisms include “begging”, “nothing”, and “wait to see what God will do to us.”

And they’re hungry.

I have been to a few hardcore places in my time, and I now include post-earthquake Haiti in that “hardcore” category. I am generally able to detach emotionally in the moment for the sake of getting through the task at hand. But this one seems different, somehow. Maybe I’m getting soft. For the past three weeks images of people’s limbs protruding from beneath piles of rubble in downtown Port-au-Princehave been coming back to me during the night. But those images, dramatic as they are, were replaced two days ago by a few lines of scrawled Creole (with English translation) on a smudged piece of paper. A description of chronic, always-in-the-back-of-your-mind hunger by someone who’d lost everything:

“The hunger is… a hole beneath our hearts.”

A good reminder, that in any situation, extreme like Haiti or everyday like assessing local community sustainability behaviour, it’s about people. People matter!

You can read the complete Tales of the Hood post here.

Viv McWaters

Motivate that Elephant

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Shawn Callahan over at Anecdote has read the first chapter of Chip & Dan Heath’s new book called Switch – How to Change Things when Change is Hard. By the way, Chip & Dan have another great read called Made to Stick.

Here’s some of what Shawn had to say about it

“It’s (Switch) all about how to motivate people to change. The first chapter has left an indelible impression because of the strong image they conjured to explain what we need to consider to influence change: the Mahout (they call it The Rider), the Elephant and the Path.

Changing behaviour involves a struggle between our rational and well-reasoned thinking and our emotional urges. The mahout represents the rational and reasoned. If the mahout clearly understands where he needs to go he’ll direct his charge that way.

The elephant represents emotional urges. While the elephant might be happy to go the way the mahout directs, if she decides to go another direction there is not a single thing the mahout can do about it.

The path represents anything that might impede or assist the mahout and the elephant to get to where they are going. You want the path to be as easy to follow as possible.”

What’s this got to do with Show Me The Change?

Shawn then goes onto look at what the ‘Elephant’ means in organisational settings and this is where he hits the nail of the ‘SMTC-head’. Over at the “Our Approach” page on the conference website, one of the key principles we have applied to the design of this conference is this one … Exploring the tangible AND intangible.

When exploring (or evaluating) the emotional component of change (the elephant), we are dealing with the intangible. Shawn talks about the use of ‘story’ in organisations and writes …

Engaging the elephant, the emotion, will take action and stories about things that happened. You might start by telling some stories of customer service blunders to grab their attention. Here’s one that happened to me recently. It’s important you find stories from the organisation. Real life examples. Negative stories, however, often in themselves wont change behaviour, partly because people don’t know exactly what they need to do to get it right. So you also need to find stories of great customer service from your company. We call them Gibson stories because William Gibson (the sci-fi writer) once said: “the future is already here; it’s just unevenly distributed.” You just need to find these stories that represent your company’s future. Tell them. Get people to discuss them. Inspire that elephant.”

In the lead up to and at ‘Show Me The Change’ in May this year, there will be spaces for you to explore the ‘intangibles’ and share your real life examples of evaluating behaviour change. That process can start right now by visiting our Showcase Your Evaluation page and provide a snapshot of a project that you have been involved in. In fact, I’ll share some stuff about Castlemaine 500 right now!



ps. Many useful story-based evaluation tools also exist and will be shared at SMTC. I am most familiar with the Most Significant Change (MSC) Technique which seeks to uncover the ‘unexpected’ impacts of a project or program. How else is story being used in this space?