IAF Methods Database Newsletter March 2011

Greetings, Facilitators!
Welcome to the March IAF-Methods Database Newsletter. This month’s Method of the Month comes from a member of the IAF leadership team in the Netherlands, Carolien de Monchy. It’s aimed at giving a group a chance to think through the differences in fundamental values and assumptions among the stakeholders to an issue or problem. We hope you find it useful in your practice!

Method of the Month
Juggling Perspectives

Purpose
To make decisions based on a good weighing up of the varied interests involved, by clarifying the underlying logic of the different stakeholders.

Steps
1. As a whole group, discuss with one another the focus issue which the group is considering, and arrive at a focus question statement, if you do not have one already.

2. Remind the group that each stakeholder looks at the same issue from a different perspective. Discuss as a group and name what the major stakeholder perspectives are for your issue. You may use as a starting point the three perspectives mentioned below.* For each perspective (probably three to five of them) post a flipchart, each in a different part of the room, to represent the perspective of each of the stakeholders groups.

3. Begin with the first flipchart. As a whole group, put yourself into the position of each stakeholder and summarize in a sentence in a sentence the values of this stakeholder and then, based on these values, how the stakeholder views the perspectives of the other stakeholders. Record this thinking on the flipchart.

4. Repeat this procedure for each of the perspectives.

5. Divide the space into the number of segments that you have stakeholder values by putting masking tape on the floor. Place your focus question statement on a large sheet of paper in the center of all of the segments.

6. Have the group spread themselves among the stakeholder compartments.

7. Read the focus question and give each stakeholder group a chance to discuss their perspective. Starting with one of the perspectives, ask:
• What is the core issue in this case from the perspective in which you are standing?
• How does that feel?
• What do you experience of the case? What happens next?
• What would you say from this perspective to those in the other perspectives?

8. Ask the same questions of the people standing in each of the other stakeholder perspectives.

9. Now ask everyone to move to a new perspective and repeat the procedure.

10. Reflection:
Let’s list the various perspectives that we have enumerated.(record on the flipchart)
How has this discussion influenced your thinking about the focus issue we face today?

11. As the group proceeds with the rest of their decision-making, check proposed decisions against the perspectives list for inclusiveness.

Background

The background thinking here is the logic of competing quality values. In the work of professionals and mangers there are often three categories of stakeholders who are involved in work in their own ways. Each of these parties has their own values and norms by which to assess the work and the decisions of a professional or of a manger:

The professional content / professional knowledge stakeholders From this vision, action should be undertaken on the basis of expertise, professionalism. Quality of work or of a decision is assessed by its basis on knowledge, accepted technique and procedures.

The fit-for-use stakeholders This is about solving problems of others, taking action in the interest of the financial backers or clients. Quality is based on fitness for use, whether it does what it is intended.

The organizational stakeholders This is about taking action in the interest of the organization, the team, to do our work better together. Does this add to the organization?

Example 1: The management of a hospital asked for a workshop to be developed for middle managers about Safety in general – patient safety, medication, sterilization, but also how to deal with someone who leaves a bucket of soapy water in the middle of the hall where people could fall over it. The sponsors hoped to bring all of these issues to the attention of the employees. In this situation the role of the middle manager was seen from three different perspectives:

• The role of the one who is responsible for the operation of the quality system, the manager as an expert. ‘Safety depends on the PDCA cycle’.
• The role of the Board, the Directors. ‘Safety means that we as a hospital receive high ranking as an institution. Safety is a competitive advantage.’
• The role of the Employee. ‘Safety is a lot of work. It is troublesome, difficult work.’

Example 2: The Directors of a large school want the managers to be aware of the costs of absenteeism and to develop an approach for handling dysfunctional faculty members or else creating a direct policy of letting them go. The situation from which the managers make this decision can be seen from three perspectives:

• The business perspective: the manager as responsible for the school’s finances, the economic and bookkeeping side of things. The right decision is the cheapest decision—it is about responsible money management and spending.
• The perspective of the faculty: This is about the fact that we are good teachers and we cannot provide inadequate teachers for our students. We have a social bond with one another and if one of us performs poorly, it reflects badly on us all.
• The perspective of the sick individual: This is about income that I have earned. How can I get through my illness, what can I do for income, what can I do for work?

Last Month's Poll

Last month’s Poll raised the question, To what degree do you charge different prices for different services?

The responses were:

I bill my services all at the same price -- face-to-face facilitation, online facilitation, event design and preparation. strong>54%
I bill clients a smaller price for design and preparation, but face-to-face and online facilitation are the same, higher price. 15%
I bill clients a smaller price for design, preparation and online facilitation, and a higher price for face-to-face work. 8%
I bill clients different prices for each service—design, preparation, online facilitation and face-to-face facilitation.23%

If you have a suggestion for a poll please contact us!