Citizens’ Assemblies are having a bit of a moment in the UK, with Extinction Rebellion calling for them, and national governments, parliaments and local authorities commissioning them on subjects including the future of social care, air quality, transport and climate change. But what exactly is a Citizens’ Assembly?
The most important sustainability challenges can only be solved by system change. And system change happens when people work together – collaborate - to change the system.
Collaboration is successful when the collaborators share some compelling aims. It’s not enough for everyone to nod along from the side-lines – they need to be rolling their sleeves up and getting stuck in to the game. How do you help potential collaborators find their shared aims?
In this day and age, with the advent of globalisation, events attended by international audiences are commonplace. In such situations, organisers may need to hire professionals who will provide translation services. Guest post from Deborah Chobanian advises us on how to get the best from interpreters at an event.
One of the most helpful things a facilitator does, is to transform how groups feel about the messy, sticky, unfocused middle of meetings. Facilitators often call this the ‘groan zone’. The phase of a meeting when conversations go a bit random, and it feels as if no progress is being made.
But what if we reframe the groan zone: if we help groups explore and appreciate the wonders of the ‘adventure forest’?
Nancy Kline’s Time to Think was one of the first books I read about coaching, and it has had a profound effect on my work with groups and in one-to-one settings. Kline believes that “everything we do depends for its quality on the thinking we do first. Our thinking depends on the quality of our attention for each other”.
Here’s her guidance on how to create a holistic setting which enables people to do their best thinking.
When you think about the changes you want to bring about, to make your organisation or sector more sustainable, what do you see changing? Do you have blind spots about where change might happen, and how deep or how obvious it will be?
Edgar Schein’s Three Levels of Culture model is a great way of understanding what might change, as an organisation or other entity changes. It’s useful to think very widely about the kinds of things that might change – or need to change – to get us on track for sustainable development.
In my short visit to Japan, I was privileged to be able to meet with three groups of facilitators: in Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo. Huge thanks to everyone who helped make this possible! These were evenings of surprising connections, open-hearted curiosity, tolerance of misunderstanding, and delicious food.
This blog post reflects on some observations and conversations about three (and a half) aspects of culture which may trip up an outsider coming to facilitate in Japan.
The loo with an integrated handbasin which drains into the cistern; the fifty-page guide to recycling and rubbish disposal; the tiny boxes you can put your leftover food into at a café; the handbag size hand towel you take with you to use in public loos… I saw a lot of things in Japan which we could usefully adopt in the UK.
Businesses - acting alone or, better still, collaborating - can do so much to help society meet the Sustainable Development Goals (or Global Goals).
Whether it’s reducing emissions from travel and energy use, making sure women and minority groups are able to progress, or cutting unnecessary plastic, there is so much to put right. And there are organisations, tools and initiatives to help you.
Find out more in the series of articles I wrote for The Environmentalist. A complete set is available in pdf here.
What a warm welcome I have had in Kyoto and Osaka, from facilitators based in this Kansai area of Japan.
When I knew I was going to come to Japan, to visit my daughter who is studying in Tokyo for a year, I wanted to make the most of the trip by meeting facilitation and sustainability professionals and learning more about their work in a very different cultural context.
Sustainability initiatives! Low-carbon innovation; gender equality; getting rid of single-use plastics; well-being.... In-house sustainability change makers and the consultants who help them are forever devising and launching initiatives and campaigns to get colleagues to do things differently. Sometimes colleagues take them up whole-heartedly and they develop a life of their own. Sometimes you get feeling people are sighing and rolling their eyes, waiting for it to fade away. What makes the difference?
If you want sustainability to move from being a nice-to-have, to being a must-have, at some point you will need to show that there’s a business case for it: that your organisation will meet its core mission better, faster, cheaper by paying good attention to sustainability than by ignoring it.
What does the business case look like in your organisation?
If the IPCC’s Special Report on climate change made you want to do something – anything – to calm the climate, swiftly followed by a sinking feeling that you just don’t know what is both doable and meaningful, and you’d rather not think about it…. You can do something meaningful! Here’s a great way to find your contribution.