Both Jenny and myself had done some Common Cause work before, having separately attended an ‘Introduction to Common Cause’ workshop. We learned of its basic principles and were offered the opportunity to explore the implications of values and frames for work on social and environmental issues.
I had read about the Action Learning Programme (ALP) – a series of six workshops supported by a mentoring programme – aimed at organisations in Scotland tackling change in the natural world. The aim of the ALP was to catalyse action that contributes to sustainability by strengthening intrinsic values. It introduced a range of practical and theoretical concepts, tools and approaches that could be used to create a values-based approach.
I contacted Osbert to find out if it would be running again, which it unfortunately wasn’t. It sounded like the perfect opportunity for Jenny and I to personally expand our horizons as well as bring great benefits to the project. We met to discuss our options and after we had explained our situation and the project in greater detail he suggested a bespoke learning programme which would provide our volunteers with the knowledge and skills to tackle change.
The programme ran from the end of February through March, totalling five sessions, and it’s safe to say that those who stuck it out definitely went on a journey of learning!
Session 1: How Values Work
First things first: The Wholehearted Approach = SYSTEMS CHANGE!
We were introduced to values and why they are essential to pro-environmental behaviour change by carrying out an exercise which required us to choose whether certain statements would be important (or not) to volunteers of the RADIAL project. As you can see below after a head count we agreed that intrinsic, compassionate values were important (green) and selfish, extrinsic values (black) were not! We also learned about the see saw effect which explains that when values in one segment are engaged, the opposite segment is suppressed.
There was a bit of conversation around valuies and engagement – Osbert brought up the example of NGOs and charities using similar selfish values as big business to engage people.This is definitely something we want to stay away from with this project but it raised the age old question – does there need to be a middle ground in order to engage the masses?
Session 2: Using Values in Practice
The second session was used to focus and determine the project’s values – the way in which we frame the project will ultimately help us engage in a compassionate way, with the hope that others will do the same. We got some great feedback about our communications, which made us feel like we’re heading in the right direction!
Session 3: Understanding How Change Happens
In the third session we were introduced to the 3 Horizons Model which comes from research done by the International Futures Forum, and explains how systematic change occurs by plotting prevalence (of approach) against time (past – future). Three horizons were described by Osbert as being:
Horizon 1 – business as usual, managerial thinking
Horizon 2 – looks both ways, seeks to innovate but to work in the current system, entrepreneurial
Horizon 3 – Innovative and visionary thinking which creates new patterns and engages core values
“The three horizon model gives us a deeper understanding of the significance of what we usually call short, medium and long term futures. The model is based on the observation that businesses, technologies, political policies and even whole civilizations exhibit life-cycles of initiation, growth, peak performance, decline and even death. These cycles can viewed as waves of change in which a dominant form is eventually overtaken and displaced by another.” (International Futures Forum)
We learned about the theory and immediately put it into practice, using five questions superimposed on top of the model to get us thinking about two real life topics of interest to the group: fashion and food.
- Evidence current system is under strain
- What innovations might be growth points
- What examples of the future are present?
- What would a desirable future look like?
- What role will H1 play in the future (what best bits of our current system will continue on in the future)?
Session 4: Planning Change
In this session we looked at how we could use what we’d learned in the course thus far in our future work. Some thoughts I had on how our learning could affect RADIAL’s future:
- Use 3 horizons model to plan and deliver next terms work
- Use model to think about whether our projects are enabling the old system (H1) or beginning the new (H3) – and what values do they hold?
- Use this to plan our communications
We delved a bit deeper in to looking at what makes people change, and the four zones that affect behaviour:
In order for someone to undertake a change in behaviour the answer had to be yes to all four, and internal to the person making the decisions, these four things were highlighted; gut, ability, rational, and schedule.
To do with our social peer groups or roles we play. A role that we play or headspace we are in can affect the way we behave and why/why not we make change. Osbert gave a personal example of his car use – when he is in the role of parent he will be much more likely to use it due to safety and convenience than if he is in the role of sustainability consultant, where he endeavours to cycle or get public transport.
“They should sort stuff out” refers to the bigger societal systems which govern us such as governments, the economy and the law.
Physical factors such as infrastructure, tools and equipment.
These four zones determine if and how people make change. The We, They and It zones all need to support the change which will in turn help people in the Individual zone. People who are extremely passionate and innovative (H3) will find ways to say yes or take action in all zones.
One really important statement, which was thread through all five sessions, was the importance of being able to put yourself in other’s people’s shoes, to determine why they would change. Also that you can really only judge people on what you see, not everything else happening in their life which affects them and has lead them to that particular moment.
More information can be found in the document Shifting the Normal, published for the Scottish Government.
Session 5: Looking After Yourself and Supporting Others
This session was relaxed and reflective. Some comments that were made when discussing how to apply theory in real life:
- Use the models and theory as a different lens to views the world
- Be aware of what’s going on around us, and what values we are engaging
- Use models as a planning tool
- Use this information to help people think about their work, practice and lives in a different way
- A change maker was referred to as someone who looks forward to the future (H3) while being present (H1)
- We must spend time at intensive H3 in bursts or run the risk of burn out
Wheel of Life Exercise
The idea was to map out areas of your life most important to you. Choose 8 areas of life and map them out on a circle with 8 segments. Between the outer line of the circle and the centre map on the line how happy you are with that area of your life with centre being the worst and outer line being the best. Join the dots!
After we carried out this very thought provoking exercise we shared what our hopes and fears for the future were. Most people had positive and negative reactions to the same issue which was refreshing as meant they were able to look constructively at it.
Our homework going forward was to choose one segment from the wheel to work on at a time and think about what story/narrative are you telling yourself and others about the issue, and what is the new story you want to apply to it.
The course took us on a journey. By introducing us to the theory and models, which attempt to explain change, we were then able to apply these and devise coping strategies for our own work/practice/life. In doing so we are able to look at the world through different eyes, from a different lens, and ultimately effect change within ourselves and others around us.
“I thought this was a great workshop and exactly the type of strategic thinking we all need to integrate into our work if we want to bring about real change.”
“I got a lot out of understanding what our place is in whatever system or institution we are a part of, and how change can be consequently communicated at different levels.”
“For me learning about how to use the frameworks was incredibly helpful. I especially liked the three horizons and values wheel tools.”