The mission statement of the Constellation is "We stimulate and connect local response". While working on our Blended Learning Programme, I found myself writing that "the role of the Constellation is to stimulate, to support and to connect local response. (I should say that I wrote this because it made sense to me, not because I wanted to challenge the mission.) Gaston asked me, "Why add 'support'?"
Here is my assertion. Unless Local Response is supported it will wither and die. Local Response challenges so many deeply held beliefs that it is usually going to be a difficult path. Doing something different is difficult. So I think that if we are going to stimulate Local Response and if we are going to transfer it, we would be wise to support it (at the very least so that there is something that we can transfer).
As I was going through this line of thinking I read Rituu's wonderful analysis of the ADB programme in India. (I have never met you Rituu but thank you for that excellent contribution. It made me think very hard). Here is an extract from the analysis: "The
participants have been very enthusiastic about the process and have come to
believe in the power of the ACP tools. However, when they go back to their
organisations they do not get the firm support to implement it." People who facilitate the process find resistance in their organisations and THEY need support.
I think it is very possible that we will make a thousand flowers bloom when we stimulate Local Response. But if we do not nurture those blooms, they will very rapidly fade and die.
And thank you Gaston for forcing me to articulate the issue.
Mmm... support sound a bit paternalistic. Do people need our support? Or do they just need to be stimulated, accompanied? Could we use the work nurture and stead of support?
It sounds like needs assessment, like problem tree analysis ;-)
But it's great to have people like you who always challenge everything!!!
I do agree that follow up is a key element for AIDS Competence to bloom in a community. It is not just about stimulating (like starting the fire, it's still a small candle) but also nurturing the community (giving some wood to burn to make it a BIG fire)!
1. Didn't think I was introducing a new idea. In SALT, we have S is for stimulate and support. My intention was to give an existing idea more prominence.
2. Words are interesting. Support has not the slightest implication of paternalism for me. The "Support for Change processes" must be a $20 billion global industry. If you had ever had your change process supported by McKinsey or any other major consulting company, I think the idea of paternalism would be swiftly driven from your mind. I have supported change processes both internally and externally for the last 20 years and I can find no link between paternalism and what I have been doing.
3. I concluded my last support of a change programme in the middle of last year. I had supported it for 6 years. When I said that I wanted to stop providing the support, the conversation with the Managing Partners was simply about whether the continuing support for the programme still needed to be external or whether it could become an internally driven process. There was still no doubt that it needed support after 6 years. We decided to provide the support internally, but we will review the decision in July this year. I think it is very likely that we will increase resources for support (but that those resources will still be internal).
4. My conclusion after 20 years of working in change processes. We use too many resources introducing the change and that we use too few resources supporting the change.
It is funny you come up with this right now because we talked a lot with Jean-Louis over the weekend about the fact that we should rethink our process, to make more efforts in supporting the implementation of the ACP. We know now how to introduce it but me should pay more attention to the in-country implementation.
My experience in the Philippines goes in the same direction. You get people motivated (some are just a bit intrigued) and then we should be careful to keep the level of enthusiasm high by stimulating or supporting the implementation over time...
How would you define the support that the Constellation gives?
My 2 cents (err.. pence)... as an "outsider" who has been out of the constellation loop for some time... so with a pinch of salt please.
Logically speaking it makes sense to close the loop of "initiating a response" with "supporting it." Though I also understand why one would leave out "support" as the goal of the Constellation is to create self-sufficient "connected" communities. Raise awareness, prompt local responses, give people the right tools and they should be able to maintain and support each other. We've seen this in action already.
Though ultimately, I do agree with Phil that local response can force digging very deeply into strong belief systems of various communities that make change management a difficult process. "Support" can take on different meanings through contextualization (obviously). So it is possible to alter the mission statement to include "support" without creating conflict with the ultimate goal of having communities self-sufficient (i.e., supporting themselves through tools that connect them to other communities).
Phil... good to see your face again, albeit in a 64x64 pixel space on a monitor. :)
** Just noticed that there was already a reply thread here... but posting anyway so I can contribute something! And allow myself to meander about to help evaluate the NING platform.
Hello Phil, I fully agree with your views and I would like us to think about the different ways to support communities.
Of course, SALT visits and self assesments are powerful tools for supporting. But I have others in mind. For example, during one on my visits to Yolo communities, in Kinshasa, facilitators told me : if you havec traveled 7000 kms to listen to us and collect information about what we have been doing, we can believe that what we do is really worth it !
I also do believe that if we write articles or make videos in communities - and communicate these articles and videos not only to the network or to partners, but to these communities themselves, it is very stimulating, very supporting. Ins't this part of "appreciation" ?
Your point is well taken! Support however evoques all kinds of images, such as $$$$... Would there be a word that captures the type of support we would want to provide? Accompany; going alongside....what is the English word for that sort of action?
The title of the blog arrested my attention. I am reading your message seven months after it was posted. Things have moved in India but slowly...The organisational heads have come to appreciate the power of ACP. But the funds and mainstreaming of ACP with current projects continue to be the issue.
I too have similar concerns about ACP as yours. Maintaining the momentum and follow up makes me anxious.
This is the second message I have read from you today. Highly impressed by your in-depth analysis.
I am John Piermont Montilla of the Philippines. I am from a youth-led NGO working with children, youth and women in highly exploitative environments and risk spaces.
I like what you said "I think it is very possible that we will make a thousand flowers bloom when we stimulate Local Response. But if we do not nurture those blooms, they will very rapidly fade and die"
But you forgot something, that in death there is another generation that wll inherit the earth - our children. I am a biologist and I believe that world is ever transforming. We all die (plants animals) but our death always make sure that we have prepared a fertile soil for the next generation. Flowers when they wither and die becomes a frute and the fruit becomes a mature seed and that seed is the future. "Fertile soil" the earth so to speak is what sustainability is all about. Consuming what the earth provides now without compromising the needs of future generations.
I remembered my first participation in Manila when me and my group draw the "tree of life" the coconut tree which symbolizes life since all its part supports human life. The leaves for roof, the coconut water as healthy drink, the coconut meat for food, the trunk as wood to build house, the tree itself for shade and protection, the cocnut flower for vinegar and wine, the rib of the leaves as a broom, the inner flesh as a food and etc. Soon this tree will die and the fruits will fall down and breed another generation of coconut trees.
Just like life, and for me that is what the constellation is all about to stimulate and after which connect to others and support will follow (the human capacity for response) I think that is what you mean of support. Support comes from many sources when we discover that we in our own selves, families and communities has strengths and resources then we are drawing support from many sources.
But the constellation should SUPPORT creating national and regional "ACP" facilitators and focal points - and pay them with a very modest amount! hahahahahah (That's the SUPPORT we need frankly speaking to increase our TRIBE).
The Constellation vidéo, where we journey in less then 2 minutes from space, through nature, to villages, in homes and back while exploring what the Constellation stands for. Thank YOU for being part of it.