Who I am

My work is problem solving in ways that assist people and communities to see the possibilities around them and as a result to be stronger economically and to  live happier and more fulfilled lives.

For the last thirteen years I have focused on the practical work of livelihoods and local economic development in communities of people who are poor; as well as training and support for the staff working in international development.

I was the founder and CEO of Diversity@work Australia Inc, a social enterprise developing innovative models, strategies and educational programs to strengthen companies through diversity and inclusion. Over ten years, Diversity@work became the largest Diversity Consultancy in the world.

I hold a Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation and a Masters of Strategic Foresight both from Swinburne University in Melbourne, and post-graduate studies in Not for Profit Management at Washington DC with Georgetown University and Negotiation and Conflict Management at Latrobe University Melbourne.  I was the Carey Medal winner for 2007 for exceptional and outstanding service to the community.

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How I work

I try to take approaches that combine proven academic theory with the practical hands on experience of myself and others. I believe in a generative process where the answers to challenges emerge as the work unfolds. In development I am particularly influenced by Otto Scharmer, Ken Wilber, Jeanne Liedtka, Robert Chalmers, Fred Kofman, Patrick Hoverstadt and Paul Polak. And for sense making I find, Design Thinking, Patterns of Strategy, Integral Systems, Spiral Dynamics, Theory U, and the Viable Systems Model and fractals particularly helpful.

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What I do

My work has been focused primarily in, India, Kenya, Senegal, Indonesia, USA , Australia and Armenia. My current role with World Vision International is to lead a global team of advisers, specializing in economic, agricultural and small business development, markets systems and  financial services to provide expertise and support to World Vision staff in over 40 countries . I am based in the Philippines.

Previously with World Vision International I was Economic Development Learning Hub Lead for the Middle East and Eastern Europe and for World Vision Australia, I founded and lead the Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Unit (SEED), a team of economic development specialists creating and supporting innovative initiatives in poor communities from Africa to the Asia Pacific from Senegal to Timor Leste.

My primary experience includes the design and development of projects that include:

  • Community mobilization and development initiatives
  • The evaluation of local economic opportunities and competitive advantage
  • Youth workforce development, vocational education and training and skill development.
  • Small business and entrepreneurship development
  • Markets development particularly value chain development
  • Microfranchising
  • The utilisation of financial services particularly microfinance and savings groups

My core competencies are in:

  • Project design, implementation and evaluation and trouble shooting in local economic development
  • Facilitation and management of partnerships with public, private and government stakeholders
  • Training needs assessments and the design and delivery of training in local economic development methodologies
  • Staff mentoring
  • Negotiation, conflict resolution and mediation system design, training or service delivery

 

 

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Armenia: Salt on the tail of the bird of my soul

Amenina 2I  came to Armenia a little over 4 years ago; it was the first time. I had never met anyone who said they were Armenian, never heard anyone speak the name of its proud capital, Yerevan or glimpsed any or its rich ancient history through words of authors and poets. And then I lived there, and it became like salt on the tail of the bird of my soul.

I lit candles in cool Saint Gayane, choir singing, and at Geghard between streaming swords of light through misty sweet incense. And with the wind howling at Sevankvank, where once the parishioners were turned by the priest into pigeons to escape invaders through the spire windows. And outside Sevan frozen, covered with snow and ice fractures. Praying in ancient Odzun Church with the priest and dining and drinking earthy red wine with him and sweet friends later. And standing on polished stones graves at Sanahin or with wedding parties and the spirit of brave Hripsime.  And those were just a few of the candles I lit

I toasted with aromatic vodka from the village and had it explode in my head, warm sunlight, apricots, rich earth, fresh streams, green trees and rocky mountains. And more toasts and I see the silver birches glimmering at the beginning of summer and the golden poplar leaf storms in autumn in just one thought.

I felt minus 30 chill on foggy old Abovian St, with ghostly tree silhouettes, elderly ladies shuffling, hunched in long dark coats and me thinking of Kilikia in the warmth of La Boheme

Or turning into Romanos Melikyan, Bam! Brave and faithful, Ararat reflecting warm sun to my chest off fresh snow, the clarity frightening.

Walks on hot evenings, old musicians,  accordion and duduk and they pull tears out of my heart and confessions and I light-headed, somehow grateful.

I sat at  tables with so much food, for so long that I got hungry again and heard stories and with Axel Bakunts ghost I told my own and so many toasts and me sober; at least until I stood up and at night under heavy winter covers those old rooms spun.

And I stood in the sky in March among the stones at ancient karahunj and from heights of the Selim caravanserai on that great silk road mountain pass from Yeghegnadzor to Matuni and thanked God that I was here for that minute. And breathed deep the smell of stabled cows in villages and could taste it still in the delicious sharpness of white cheese, sweet red tomatoes, mountain grown herbs with khorovats, good red wine and running water.

And there has been a lot more for which I am grateful to this land and to to my many friends with whom one way or another I shared a rich and full journey. Hail Armenia, to you and yours, I fell deeply in love.

The packers and movers have come and gone and I sit again in a bare house waiting for the last arrangements before Liezel and I fly out to Manila.

 

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Jock Noble – Capability Statement

 

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Jock Noble – Capability Statement

Performance

My 12 years with World Vision has all been focused on livelihoods and economic development initiatives in communities that are poor. In livelihoods my experience ranges from working directly in communities, alongside our development facilitators, supporting and mentoring our specialist livelihoods coordinators and managers and working with Operations and Ministry Quality management and teams. I have worked in nearly 30 countries in Asia, the Pacific, Middle East, Eastern Europe, Southern, East and West Africa and taken multiyear secondments in Kenya, Armenia and Indonesia.

As part of my work I have developed and designed programs, worked on grant applications,  hired, supported and mentored livelihood staff and sometimes filled in as a National Office’s Livelihoods Coordinator.

I consider myself a prachademic, combining solid academic international development, livelihoods and strategy theory with hard won, lived field experience.

In 2006 I established World Vision Australia’s Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development ( SEED ) unit from scratch and ran it for over 7 years. During that time I conceived and developed the project models for Business Facilitation (2007) LVCD (2009) Micro-Franchising ( 2011) SKYE and IMPACT Clubs (2013) as well as the PALS e-learning concept (2011).

Following my work with World Vision Australia I joined World Vision International and spent 4 years in MEER developing evidence building frameworks for these models in some of the toughest environments anywhere.

Before joining World Vision I spent  20 years building NGOs and Social Enterprises and developing strategies to increase their competitiveness. For fifteen of these years I personally started 7 social enterprises. These ranged from a furniture company that employed over 100 homeless youth to establishing the world’s largest diversity and inclusion consultancy providing services to leading organisations (such as IBM, BHP Billiton, BP and National Starch, Chemical Company as well as Australian State and Federal Government departments) to help them include people facing barriers to employment, particularly Indigenous Australians and people with a disability.

Core Competencies

 Program design and Grant Acquisition and integration with Technical Approaches and Programs, Business Model Development, Business Model Canvass, Patterns of Strategy, partnering and negotiation.

  • Program design, development, integration and training in economic development including; markets development and LVCD, small business development and entrepreneurship including Business Facilitation, Micro-franchising and self-employment
  • Labor market programs including employment, employability and Vocational Education and Training (VET) for people facing barriers to employment particular youth, women and people with a disability.
  • Integration of youth models into programing particularly SKYE and IMPACT
  • Agricultural livelihoods approaches including reframing small farms as businesses, Permaculture home gardens and Graduation Approaches
  • Design including Theories of Change and Theories of Action, Design Thinking and ideation, Action Research and Action Learning
  • Strategic Foresight and developing strategies and approaches that are most likely to deliver a “preferred” future.
  • Strategy Development that focus on sustainability and building competitive advantage

I hold Masters Degrees in:

  • Entrepreneurship and Innovation and
  • Strategic Foresight.

As well as a Graduate Certificate in Conflict Management and Negotiation

I have been faculty lecturer with the America University in Armenia for the subject Entrepreneurship and Innovation

I have published two books: Stories from the Road (2015) and Postcards: What am I doing here?

As well as coauthoring the training package Opening the door to employment for people with disabilities : a skill development program for employment professionals (2000) and the achademic paper “Are workers with a disability less productive or less understood – An_empirical_investigation from an entrepreneurial business planning perspective ( 1999)”

In 2007 I was the annual awardee of The Carey Medal in recognition of exceptional and outstanding service to the Australian community.

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States of Being Poor

States of being poor ………for testing with personas (very draft)

 Not Poor:  Life conditions are such that people have the personal capabilities and worldviews, individual resources, supportive community environment and essential community services to care for themselves and their children and have choices and make plans for the future.

Fallback Poor: Life conditions are such that people do not have the individual resources, supportive community environment and essential community services to consistently care for themselves and their children, their choices are limited, it is difficult to make long term plans and at times they will fall below the poverty line

Poor: Life conditions are such that people may not have personal capabilities and worldviews necessary to develop options to move out of poverty and do not have the individual resources, supportive community environment and essential community services to care for themselves and their children and have choices and make plans for the future. As a result these people are unable to meet all their basic needs.

Very Poor:  Life conditions are such that people are very unlikely to have personal capabilities and worldviews necessary to develop options to move out of poverty. Their annual income is likely to mean that they fall below their countries recognized poverty line. They do not have the individual resources, supportive community environment and essential community services to care for themselves and their children. By necessity their choices tend to me more short term and it is very difficult to make meaningful plans for the future. As a result these people are unable to consistently meet their basic needs.

Extremely poor:  Life conditions are such that people may not have personal capabilities and worldviews necessary to develop options to move out of poverty. Their annual income is below their countries recognized poverty line.  They do not have the individual resources, supportive community environment and essential community services to care for themselves and their children. Their choices are predominantly concerned with meeting their basic needs for food water, sex, sleep and housing and they have almost no control over their future. As a result, to survive these people need gifts of food, water, fuel, shelter or other basic life sustaining elements just to survive.

If the key areas of relationship to vulnerability were around the elements of:

  1. Food
  2. Assets
  3. Income
  4. Health
  5. Education of their children
  6. Future orientation

What questions would need to be asked to determine the endpoints that would mark the center of gravity for each of the five poorness states above. The point above which people who are poor, as an individual or household could be considered to have moved to the next level, in an element. That is which of the 6 elements would characterize the center of each of the five poverty states, within each of Integral’s 4 AQAL quadrants. Individual and what is available to individuals, collective and the systems, policies, laws and infrastructures that are available to communities.

Knowing this would allow us to measure where families are.

We would also be able to plot their most venerable/least developed areas in each of the hypothesized 6 elements above.

We would also be able to measure change in a more nuanced way.

As a body of development professionals, organizations and funders, we could gradually move from projecting lack of capability on people who are poor and start focusing more on a much broader set of life conditions. And be able to measure progress more effectively.

July 2014

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Advice from an Integral Friend

Advice from an Integral Friend

In an organization you can find yourself presiding over a range of activities and programs that seem to make some sense on their own but are difficult to conceive of and articulate as being something holistic or justify collectively as being worth continuing. The likelihood is that these programs have sprung up in response to specific needs and over time taken on a life of their own under a larger umbrella. Now with increased scrutiny or competition for funding they may increasingly look like a collection of orphans and strays, irrespective of their original underlying impetus. If the division or unit cannot articulate itself to the upper management system of control it is likely to lose out in the completion for funds and resources and be broken up or die.

So taking a hypothetical case that approximates the one my friend Jane finds herself facing. Jane has just taken over the ‘Community Development Team’ (CDT) as part of the activities of a local council in a rural shire that I will call ‘Happy Valley’. Over the years the community development team has grown to six staff.  Jane now has the task of developing a strategy for the team and being able to explain to the council why it should continue to be resourced. The problem is that there does not seem to be a common thread that easily explains what the team does or what value it creates.

In addition to the team leader, an overview of the team is as follows

Two staff members are engaged in youth development working to support young people in the Shire. The activities they do vary but include youth council’s holiday programs putting on youth events and youth awards etc.

One staff member’s role is to promote and develop arts and culture across the Shire. The activities include, facilitating the development of public art, putting on art activities and events, supporting art cooperatives etc. This worker sees his role as building community connections and culture using art as a tool.

One staff member works in 26 communities to support the development of community leaders to  engage more actively in community life and to lead community driven planning and programs that often have some council interest

Another staff member’s role is to improve the entire council’s engagement with communities to effectively consult community and stakeholders and consider their opinions in councils priorities and decisions. This person supports council planners, engineers and contractors, engaged in infrastructure to seek Community input into planning and decision making.

There is also a general expectation by the Shire that collectively the team will take on other community development activities outside the areas above and that the team leader should develop a strategy to determine the inclusion of further activities.

The Happy Valley Shire does not have any firm goals for the elements of the team and there are no specific outcomes or evaluations carried out to measure the team’s effectiveness.

There is however an underlying assumption that collectively the work of the team will increase opportunities and social, economic and environmental well-being, and that if ratepayers are more involved this could ultimately save the council money.

So how does Jane make sense of this, develop and strategy, communicate with others, solicit support and lead the team into the future?

The overall concept is that we will use an AQAL Map to create a more cohesive way of viewing our landscape. We will use “our” activities  as indicators of the worldviews we are attempting to create in “others.” And then we are going to iterate this a number of times around an AQAL map until we have clarity about what our real aims are, what we are doing now and what we need to do in the future.

1/ Using an  AQAL map we can list all the activities that the team undertakes, facilitates or makes  available to individuals. These can be listed randomly in the UR and all the relevant activities and council engagements it tries to create for community groups in the LR. We now think of these as symptoms that the council has created – indicators of underlying needs that the council has in one way or another tried to address. So now we are looking for underlying individual and collective worldviews that these symptoms were intentionally or unintentionally developed to produce in community members and groups .

2/ The worldviews for which the actions were created can be ordered along a diagonal line in the UL in order of hoped for evolvement. These milestones may include worldviews that are prior to or in advance of the CDT’s activities. For example at an individual level close to the central axis may be the view “ I believe I know what the council is doing” and toward the top of the diagonal may be “ I can and am  leading changes in my community that are good for the community and as a result I will benefit as well”.

This rough ordering of “their” worldviews may be guided by some levels of development framework such as Spiral Dynamics.

3/ We can now develop a set of evolving collective worldviews in the LL that generally correspond with the UL and informed by the “symptoms” as indicated by council activites in the LR

4/ Once the UL and LL  Quadrants have hypothetical sequential worldviews we can now begin to align “our”  activities and engagements in the Upper and Lower Right Quadrants and mesh them with corresponding hoped for changes in world view changes.

5/ We should now begin to see that some of our activities are clustered around certain worldview creation and that there are a lack of activities corresponding to others that we think are valuable. We might find that there are “orphan” activities that appear to have no anchoring UL or LL worldviews and this may indicate we are missing the articulation of some worldviews or perhaps that these activities need to be refocused or axed.

6/ Now to check how this is lining up in practice we can include what we perceive as successful indicators of individual or community actions for individuals or community groups embodying the identified world views.  We could use these as future indicators of success at different levels and also compare them with the fruits of our current activities. This may also lead to the refocusing of existing activities as well as a tool for monitoring the success of staff or programs.

7/ We are now in a position to plot the kind of world views we would need to have both as individual workers and as a team (UL and LL) against the world views and corresponding attitudes that we would like to see in our target groups. For example if relevant individual staff are not modeling a belief in individuals making a difference then they hardly in a place to be advocating for change or leadership amongst individuals in the community.

In a sense this now begins to tell us about our own story. We can communicate the changes we would like to see in individuals and the community, what we see as ideal and how we see these evolving, we can critique the success of our existing actions and make the case for changes that we see need to be made along the activity continuum. We can talk about the kinds of changes that will be our indicators of success and the team we will need to make that possible. And it is all part of the same story.

 

Advice from an Integral Friend Pic

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