So read a social media response to a message from one of the participants following the recent Skills for Change programme.
In the closing sessions of the two days, the range and depth of learning expressed had a big impact on me. The power of peer-based learning, coupled with the freedom to learn, rarely fails to inspire me. The sessions focused on developing more strategies for change together with the skills that go with them.
The approach works with the individual ‘system’ of each participant as the co-experimenter for practicing change skills. Whilst the focus is on the individual and human scale change, so much of the learning translates to teams, projects, organisations and community processes, as was evident in what people were taking away to apply in practice.
Its underpinning framework for effective relational change is around seven stages, each representing a specific phase with its own purpose and related skills. At the start, there is an understandable curiosity to the kind of rigour and individual responsibility which peer-based learning nurtures, but by day two, the whole began to emerge from the parts – and its impact can be the seeds of transformation.
The power of peers was unmistakable throughout, the most meaningful learning happening in very small groups, as each person showed their humility and courage to their individual projects. The participants varied from new managers to seasoned professionals, from experienced CEOs and key directors to individual consultants, and the sectors ranged through housing, finance, law, women’s rights, hotels, manufacturing, young people’s services, coaching and change agency. A truly rich mix of lives lived and lessons learned.
After an early stage of the programme, shared storytelling generated a real-life checklist of what conditions and attitudes truly help change in organisations (and life). It reinforced my view that if people are enabled to take time to work together, the resource and tacit knowledge is significant.
After 10 minutes of storytelling and 15 minutes of group time, 20 people gathered their learning…
Conditions and attitudes that nurture effective change
- A willingness to change
- Understanding of why the change is needed
- Reward and benefits
- A ‘push’ factor – necessity for change
- Fixing pain – reaching a breaking point
- Confidence / belief in self
- Support network
- Engaged in the change
- Maintaining a change
- Personal growth
- Time scale
Individuals, teams and organisations would really benefit from ensuring they do as much as they can to engender and develop these conditions in practice. If you are involved in change (and who isn’t?) you might have more to add from your own experiences.
Skills for Change
The group also generated some of the skills that they have experienced as making a positive difference:
- Acceptance of the situation
- Accessing self confidence
- Asking for help
- Asking for feedback and accepting it
- Ability to manage oneself outside of personal comfort zone
- Demonstrate empathy
- Ability to challenge constructively – oneself and others
- Demonstrate courage and bravery
Over the two days, others were added and practised, including:
- Decision making and generating choices
- Building shared commitment and agreement
- Eliciting information
- Sustaining relationship
- Reviewing and closing
Underlying the programme, the Oasis Framework of contacting, contracting, and so on, provided a structure to learn and develop, adjust and adapt – I love that!