What have we learned from the integration of our approach into other participatory approaches?

Constructive criticism is a great opportunity to become reflective, as individuals and as an organisation. It is a gift that helps us to learn, adapt and improve. Recently, within one of our cherished organisational partnerships, we were challenged by the suggestion that we are "too rigid". It led to some valuable discussion and reflection. I have shared a piece from this discussion below. 

..."Perhaps the Constellation comes across as rigid because we are solidly founded in SALT, and it is more than a value statement - we live and breathe it! But what others may not realise is that this is not just another methodology, it is a way of working. In fact it can underpin many approaches or methodologies, but it is, ultimately, our philosophy. SALT is how we work, and how we stimulate others to work. With this in mind, there are 2 interesting elements to our philosophy that we ought to consider, when we respond to such a statment:

  1.  Our way of working is appreciative. This means that we embrace approaches that are also appreciative. CLCP is the one we know and use. But what about other appreciative methodologies? We are also using AIC. Some of us have Salvation Army background, Appreciative Enquiry, ABCD and others.. So, the question is, how open are we to working outside of the CLCP, so long as we maintain our foundation in SALT? How far will we go?
  2. We value learning. This means that we, as coaches, members and as an organisation, are always reflecting, learning and adapting as we work with others. We have been given a gift - to "think outside the box of CLCP". So, are we being truly open to this lesson? What can we do to make the most of this opportunity to learn about ourselves?
  3. Have you applied elements of CLCP in your other work? Or in another project? How did it turn out?

Let's have a conversation!....."

Constellation travellers - Please share your thoughts! What have we learned from the integration of our approach into other participatory approaches?

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...."I think this is something that is cross cutting for coaches in the
Constellation in all partnership opportunities that we have.

I think the reflections from partners about our process are always an
opportunity to learn and look at ourselves more critically.  I wonder if the
reflection about the process being too 'rigid' has multiple layers.....a
personal one which relates directly to the coach and his/her approach and
then the process itself.  I think it would be helpful to reflect on this
from both of these angles.

I think a challenge for Coaches of the Constellation, which I believe we are
facing more and more in partnerships is how we integrate elements of CLCP
into existing participatory methodologies, as opposed to replacing existing
approaches entirely with CLCP.  Perhaps this is a skill we need to help each
other more with as a coaching pool from our various experiences.  I believe
this ability reflects a much deeper understanding of what is 'essential' and
what can be 'let go of' in our work with partners and from my experience,
the tools we use in the CLCP process are just that....tools which we have to
be willing to adjust.....the belief and way of working of SALT are the
essential elements that can infuse any process that we are a part of.

So my reflection on the first question - how far will we go? is that we can
go pretty far in letting go of our specific tools as we adapt and integrate
into existing participatory methodologies....the thing that makes us
distinctive is the belief and way of working which is consistently applied
through simple things like reflection, teamwork, learning and application.

To the second question, I would like to see us reflecting on ourselves as
coaches that is perhaps as much a part of a perception of 'rigidness' as any
of the actual tools or processes we use.  How confident and comfortable are
we to adapt, adjust, integrate and see CLCP as a dynamic process that can
add value to existing methodologies and processes.  Following the 'steps' of
CLCP then becomes less important as we work alongside others to build on the
strengths of the processes they are already using.

I look forward to hearing others thoughts on these important questions....."

April Foster - Kenya

Good job for posting a very relevant question. It's a very insightful discussion so far, I'll share some of our experience and challenge in RDC. In RDC we find ourselves in a situation where an existing process and tools are used in UNICEFS Village Assaini program. It's the biggest UNICEF project in the world. They custom build a process based on PHAST as this is a WASH program. UNICEF, The ministry of health and all partners have done an amazing job in creating this process and making it work in over 3000 villages. One of the main challenges is to foster more ownership as to make the program more durable. This is  also one of the reasons we were called in.

We (Nadine, Junior, Gaston and me) presented our way of working without naming it SALT. We also introduced some tools "we use in CLCP" but "can be used in any process". We acknowledged the need of the program leaders to NOT introduce an extra method halfway the program (2010-2017). SALT (well known in RDC) is seen as a method, so we couldn't use the achronyme. In the facilitators training manual we saw an excellent chapter on the behavior of facilitators, which was very SALTY. So in effect they already had designed SALT into the program, still it didn't lead to ownership, how could that be? Many SALT visits and meetings later we renewed our learnings on how SALT can be infused in a program:

1. all behavior starts at the top of the program with leading by example

2. specific behavior is very much influenced by structure:

a. we need to specify time in the program where we can execute this behavior

b. We need to define objectives per step in the program that are caused by this  behavior- what gets measured gets done. What is the result we're looking for and how do we need to behave to get there?

- This can be made easier by using a tool. We have tools specially designed with these behaviors in mind. Even if you behave in a neutral way the tool will convey the message of SALT and lead to the results mentioned.

- SALT visits are the best example for this as this fosters only relationship, intimicy and ownership, not concrete objectives. These visits are easily skipped if we don't define these objectives or when we forget to design for time (point a).

c. We need to design for the accompaniment of the facilitators and coaches, so their behavior is supported throughout their work. Tools like AAR are very usefull in this structure but I'm sure there are other valuable learning tools.

My point is that we always want to think really well about the structure we work in as to assure we all behave in a way we have seen to deliver results. The tools are valuable aids. If we use other tools let's focus on why were using our tools in the first place and if we can attain this by using the other tools.

I am very curious about your expriences, hope to see you all soon!

Boris

 

Boris, thank you for your very useful insights from experience in Congo. How interesting that SALT was explored in the initial meetings, without necessarily naming the acronym.

One thing i have taken away from your response is that building ownership in a large programme requires a combination of role-modelling SALT (without necessarily naming it), appropriate structures, the flexible use of appropriate tools and all partners having a shared undertanding of the intended impact.

We need to communicate that results are key - it is not an approach we use just because it feels good - we know from experience that it works. 

:-) You've utterly nailed this down to a knowledge asset I'll use in forthcoming events!

My very first impression about CLCP/SALT was that it is a flexible process. It is integrate-able, can be adapted to any situation because it is strength-based and all of this can take place without US loosing the CORE-values of the process. The core values are what our partners buy and I am sure we want to continue selling for a long time. So as we integrate this approach with other participatory approaches we should seek not to 'water down' its value but look for complementary synergies that could only benefit he final beneficiaries while taking into consideration the "piper'. During one engagement I was associated with, the partner while appreciating the core elements of the process could not change the methodology of the approved project. So we agreed to cultivating the "spirit" of SALT with the Facilitators who would have been using the approved methodology to engage communities. In that experience, the Facilitators saw SALT as a mean of developing a WOW between themselves, how can they effectively work as a TEAM and as mean of stimulating members of the communities with which they worked. Some months later I met a few of the Facilitators during an informal social gathering where one commented that they were just part of a review and there they reflected on SALT, how SALT(y) they were? (^_^).

This is very interesting experience Autry - you have infused SALT into a very different methodology, and it worked. So what did you find when you met the team months later. Was SALT enhancing the other methodology? Were they compatible? Did the participants and the partner see an added value from SALt?

Yes Olivia, we did more social gaffe than SALT (^_^). The mere fact that there was mention of SALT from two of the four persons, was an indication that something stuck. The mention was that "We did discuss SALT." May be I should try to get an official feedback or follow-up with some one from within the organization the general thinking and feeling of the benefits of the SALT engagement. 

over the years I continue to learn that the SALT process is a very flexible one and can be adapted to almost anything. Its the way we work and it can be adapted and applied to any situation. we have seen its flexibility in that when we started it was Aidscompetence, now its about community competence. Along the way persons realised that this revolutionary way of working can be used and applied in almost any given situation. Rigidity may be a direct result of a coach's approach, confidence level; so I want to go by the book, worried that I may not be able to deliver effectively. etc

I have learnt that the SALT process is a learning process, you always keep learning new things and applying them as you go along. It is a process that I see will live on for a long time. Its what the world needs :)

Thanks Michael. Have you applied SALT or elements of CLCP explicitly and openly with other methodologies? What was the outcome?

I have applied SALT explicitly while using other participatory methods and what I found is that the way we use our tools we require less resources, it is easier to manage, we do not need a fancy conference room; it can be done anywhere. I have seen that SALT is very adaptable. I have been using it in my work and is in the process of creating a video on the process that I can expose others to the process.

Michael - the video sounds really exciting! Make sure you share it with all of us on NING! Have you seen the research on Aids Competence Process and Cost Effectiveness? I have uploaded it here. It echoes what you are saying about the cost-effectiveness of CLCP in your experience in Guyana. 

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Hey guys - great to see these responses! Here's another question to ponder - Have you applied elements of CLCP in your other work? Or in another project? How did it turn out?

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