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Share your experience: How do YOU explain the Constellation, SALT or CLCP to others????

Hi friends,

What do you say or do when someone asks you about the Constellation, SALT or CLCP? How do you get them to understand it? 

In this forum, we are asking you to answer the following question:

What worked, in my experience, in explaining the Constellation/ SALT/ CLCP? 


Our intention is to use your experiences to build materials that all Constellation Members and their friends can use. Our first goal is to make a simple deck of slides, to be available to everyone by the end of June, 2013.

Please share your experience in the comments section below. If you have useful examples that you have developed yourself (e.g. a 1-pager, a powerpoint or even a video of you "pitching" the approach!), please do share them with us too. You can upload them in a Blog, and then point us to them in the comments below.

When providing your answer, perhaps consider the following scenarios:

  1. A potential new partner (say a UN office in a new country) heard about the Constellation from a colleague and asks you to give some more information by email on why, what and how. What would you send if you could not have a conversation at that stage?
  2. You are invited for a meeting with NGO partners and somebody asks you about the Constellation. What do you say/ focus on?
  3. You need to give a 10 min presentation on the Constellation for an audience that is not familiar with development language. What would you focus on? 

Looking forward to hearing from you!

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I begin by indicating that the key word of the Constellation or CLCP is competence, but please dont ask me to explain competence because its an experience / process which entails five levels [level 1: AWARE, Level 2: REACT, Level 3: ACT, Level 4: SYSTEMISE / CONTINUOUSLY ACT; Level 5: ACT NATURALLY]. We take this competence approach to communities to make them competent but that the process of becoming competent is like a journey, it doesn't happen over nite. It allows the community to address it concerns (what ever they may be ) in an organized way by the community taking ownership and being responsible for the process and their concerns. The competence levels help them to analyse where they are now and where they would like to go, their vision. Their vision of being competent which is accomplished by the dream building exercise is not a perfect situation (or world) but a situation in which the community is capable to cope with their challenges in a positive way, their concerns are being addressed.

SALT is our way of working, it is that inherent capacity to working with communities to motivate them to action, helping them to share their strengths, what they are most proud of while at the same time expressing their concerns in a way realising that their strengths individually and cumulatively can be used to overcome their concerns. 

These are my initial thoughts (^_^)

Great stuff Autry. Good to read you here again! Hope all is going well. I am helping out with some Transfer bits here and there. All the best to you, your friends and family. Hope to come over some day again. CHeers, Gaston

Dear Olivia, 
Thank you for helping us to reflect on this issue which I tend to forget when I become immerse in what I do.  Thinking of how to explain to others is very challenging. I always find it difficult to explain what is it all about The Constellation, CLCP and SALT.

Normally, I mentally give a step backwards in order to see what they are really asking me. I try to give a short answer and the shorter answer that comes to my mind is 'I don't really know'. And it is not because I do not have it clear within but because, as the three scenarios you present, the answer will be different depending of who is asking. 
Most of the times I feel more comfortable explaining from my personal experience so I find myself having to explain things that are inextricably linked to my life, to the experiences of my life that have led me to what I am now and what I do. And that is not feasible on certain occasions.

The most difficult part to explain is about SALT, which is for me the most important. It is difficult to explain because sometimes people are waiting for a methodology, some kind of formula they can apply to obtain certain results. So talking about SALT as I think of it is a bit shocking at times. Brcause for me SALT is an attitude, is a way of looking at the reality of life. I try to explain about the various concepts the S,A, L and T stand for, so as to relate that name with some basic aspects of taking care of others. But at greater level SALT is the attitude that connects me to other people, with the people I relate to, not only in terms of work but in any kind of relationship. 
I consider SALT as a way to position myself in life and beyond the actual representations of the acronym it reminds me of the importance of puting humanness in the center. That any relation should be based on our looking at each other as human beings and our trust in our capacity as human to establish relationships based on those human qualities.
Probably this is the part that would I start with to talk in scenario 3. This is the side that i think connects with people when they are not engaged in 'development work'.

Then I talk about the CLCP as a set of tools that allow us to put in practice our belief in human competence, in everybody's capacities and knowledge to lead our lives. This seems to be easier to explain because I can talk of steps to be taken, something tangible that we can do when organizing an event. You can follow a path by walking one step after the other. And I also found that, even when people find the steps a bit 'different', they are more receptive to this kind of explanation. But my difficulty here is on how to breath into it the spirit that I can see in CLCP. I make reference to this spirit as coming directly from a SALT attitude, from trusting in that other way of 'changing the world' is possible.
Emphasizing the practical side of CLCP could be an entry point to agencies and institutions.

Then, again, talking about The Constellation I am not sure that I can transmit what we are, how we relate to each other. Because when I say that I work with an International Organization that facilitates local responses around the World, I do not feel that I am really transmitting what we have achieved. Again I need to tell people about my direct experience with working in a team made up of people, some of whom I have not met personally, but whom I trust just because they are applying that same spirit, they feel that same trust in each others capacities. They also live the words.
I would probably focus on this specific side of our relationship as a team, not as a working team but again, as a group of human beings who share a dream for the world we live in. I would try to bring our humanness to the work we do. I have the impression that NGO people are longing for the kind of inspiration that comes from looking at themselves as human beings and not only 'helpers'.

In fact I am not very good at finding a definition of either SALT, CLCP or even The Constellation. I think that the only way to explain all three concepts is by experiencing them. The only way to get an accurate sense of what we are talking about is by directly getting involved and touching that spirit with our own perception, becoming conscious of what it is through our own senses.

There are times when you just start explaining what SALT is about and after you pronounced three words you can see that the person has already understood. They already had a longing for it. They had already dreamt of it and are ready for it. Maybe that is why I became a bit lazy about explaining... Experiencing is a shortcut that saves a lot of words.
I don't know (you see, that's my favorite expression!). Just my one cent here.

Great MariJo, I like and this is trully an inspiration. Olivia et al will surely benefit from this, thanks soo much (^_^)


As I read your response, I took notes! I read it and at each point, I proclaimed "yes!" in agreement. In my notes, I summarised your answer like this:

1. Short response - direct to their question

2. Personal experience

3. SALT - the essence is being human, relating as humans and believing in others' capacities

4. CLCP - a balance of practical steps and the attitude of facilitators

5. Constellation - a team. Relating as humans. Inspired. Each with personal experience of SALT in their lives.


Then I saw this comment:

There are times when you just start explaining what SALT is about and after you pronounced three words you can see that the person has already understood. They already had a longing for it. They had already dreamt of it and are ready for it. Maybe that is why I became a bit lazy about explaining... Experiencing is a shortcut that saves a lot of words.

So true!


What I have learned from your answer is the power of personal experience. Starting with a SALT visit is a great way to introduce a group to SALT. It can't really be explained, it can only be experienced. It is like trying to describe a taste or a smell or a feeling.


Thanks for this wonderful insight. You have done some presentations at earlier conferences. Would you mind sharing your slides or some activities you did with the participants?


Olivia xxx


. Like Autry I also focus on the word "Competence" and help the to understand that it is a process of getting where we want to be, and the ability to meet the challenges that may arise with a positive attitude. And we can measure "our competence" by using the 5 levels which are so simple to remember rather than some complicated matrix.

When it comes to SALT for me I ensure that i give them the the words attached to the letters

S- Stimulate

A- Appreciate


T- transfer

I help persons to understand that this is our way of working which brings out the aspect of Local responses. At this point I would share an example of a local response.

I like to focus on the local response aspect. I believe that have become so disconnected with their ability to affect change that they become dependent on outside help

Hi Michael.

Thanks so much for your response. I agree that dependency is a huge issue, and definitely one that many organisations grapple with. This is one of our unique offerings, that we can stimulate local responses that reduce dependency on outside help.

Aside from the importance of local responses, what also comes through in your answer is the importance of simplicity. With so many hugely complex matrixes out there, it is great to see that the steps and tools of CLCP can be understood and applied by anyone.

Have you been asked to give formal presentations or send a summary document before? What did you use?



I have not been asked to send a summary document before . I have used powerpoint presentation which takes from the blended learning manual as talking points and used personal experiences of local responses to get the message across.

Autry, this is a wonderful summary! I particularly resonate with these words:

"Their vision of being competent which is accomplished by the dream building exercise is not a perfect situation (or world) but a situation in which the community is capable to cope with their challenges in a positive way, their concerns are being addressed."


In the past, many partners have struggled with this idea of buiding a dream, because they worry that it raises the expectations of the communmity (beyond that which can be achieved). So the way you have described dream-building is useful indeed. 


When you give this explanation, where are you? Who is there? Is it a private conversation between you and others? Or have you been asked to give presentations?


Your description of SALT is concise and simple, but powerful.


Thank you for sharing this!


Olivia, this happens anywhere, anytime, I get an opportunity to 'sell' CLCP/Constellation (^_^). Once an opportunity presents itself, am ready. My audience could be one or more persons. Yesterday I was driving to work and offered a young neighbor a 'lift' to his work and we began a gaffe on human trafficking in Guyana and we ended the conversation on the levels of competence, their meaning and application.

The Constellation: sherpa's for the sherpa's who are helping communities around the world to become more competent and selfsteering towards the challenges they are facing.

The Constellation offers insights, tools and encouragement to adhere to a strengthbased, appreciative and above all human approach.


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