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.