Vision Guatemala ( : : 49 ) ( The Dialogue Approach) -Pruitt, B. and Thomas, P. (2007) Democratic Dialogue-A Handbook for Practitioners. Washington, DC: OAS, International IDEA, and UNDP, p49. (Philip Thomas) (Generative Change Community) 2005The CP Yen Foundation invites you participate in Philip’s workshop on November 4-6, 2011, 9am-5pm. Visitwww.cpyen.org to register.
C P Y E N F O U N D A T I O N Mul$-‐stakeholder Dialogic Change: an interview with Philip Thomas October 2011This October issue of CPYF’s Dialogue Newsletter is an Adam Kahane, a social change facilitator and Philip’sinterview with Philip Thomas - facilitator of the multi- colleague, said “if you’re not part of the solution, you’restakeholder dialogic change process workshop to be part of the problem.”held in Taipei on November 4-6, 2011. You arewelcome to join & register at www.cpyen.org. This Therefore, as facilitators we need a language thatevent aims to create a space for participants to learn addresses how results matter, thinking matters,design and implementation of processes that build relationships matters, and process matters; and facilitatorscollaborative relationships within and across different, need processes that enable these different aspects ofand even adversarial, groups in society. This newsletter change. For this reason dialogue & deliberation isis intended to convey the value of multi-stakeholder recognized by the UN as a key social change process.dialogic processes through Philip’s own words. Pattern 2: Dysfunctional relationships across sectorsQ: How did you personally become interested in The real problem is not the issue, it’s the relationship. Wemulti-stakeholder dialogic change processes? need to recognize that if you don’t have functional relationship with the “other” you can’t solve the problem.I come from a Mennonite background which emphasizespeace, and I started my career as an activist in Latin Q: What are some experiences that really influencedAmerica; so I’m aware of the reality of power imbalance your understanding of multi-stakeholder changeand the challenge of wanting change but not knowing processes?how to do it. I quickly became aware that for any issue -whether it’s human rights, labor & government - there’s For example, the El Salvadorian war was a fight betweenenough advocates, but what’s really lacking is people guerrillas and the government. A private dialogue waswilling to step out of that and hold a space for people to held for individuals from both sides to meet over manycome together. Like it or not, we’ve got to engage the months in a living room to talk on the one thing they shareenemy. So I got really excited about dialogue. in common: minimizing violence. Nine months in to the meetings a strike occurred on the streets and the policeQ: What patterns have you observed across nations were beating one of the people who had attended ourand communities of people’s struggle with social dialogue meetings. A government official in the dialoguechange? commented that before the dialogues he would have cheered on the police’s actions, but after the dialogues he20-30 years ago an assumption was popularly held that thought: “that’s not the way to do it.” When a shift likegovernments, civil society & businesses ought to deal that happens at the individual level, especially in peoplewith challenges on their own. Today there’s a greater with influence their transformation can lead to largerawareness that this requires crossing sectoral lines. sectoral transformation. Dialogue enables that to happen.Pattern 1: Increasing awareness of interdependence. Another example is the controversy on abortion in theNew participatory methodologies are needed to raise the United States. The Public Conversations Project hostedquality of participation. There’s no lack of private dialogues between pro- and anti-abortion leaderscommunication today, but there is a lack of for over 15 years. A ground rule was that neither side willunderstanding. try to persuade the other. That allowed them to maintainChallenge 1: Processes are “expert” driven, and today’s their difference and to find opportunities for collaborationissues cannot be deferred to experts because of on projects.Challenge 2: Complexity. “Complicated” issues can beresolved through problem solving, like the question We need safe environments for conversations. For“how to send a rocket to the moon” scientists can solve example, in Guatemala we held citizen cafes at a yogurtthat problem and replicate it. “Complex” issues shop where people knew that every Thursday they couldhowever are analogous to the question “how do you talk about an important social issue - it’s not a decisionparent a child?” Complexity involves so many variables making space - it’s just people talking about things, and itthat there’s no one answer to it; complexity requires was hugely successful with hundreds of people showingpaying attention and learning by doing to continue up each week.working for change in a context that’s always evolving.
Q: What about the results after dialogue?Vision Guatemala was held after a war where people had neither time nor space to talk with their enemies. Yetthrough the dialogues people created deep friendships across deep divides. The result is that seven years later when apolitical party became violent; people in our dialogue circles called their friends on the other side and said: “look atwhat your people doing, call your friends and lets intervene to prevent violence.” They prevented countless peoplefrom being injured thanks to their collaborative relationships - that’s a huge victory for dialogue.Dialogue is always necessary and always insufficient for change to happen because it also requires budgets andactions to realize the change. So facilitators need to manage expectations. Even when a dialogue formally ends, weneed to continue cultivating relationships to be able to collaborate again in the future. Just like in your relationshipwith your spouse - you may never feel like you’ve “arrived” - it’s always evolving. Facilitators must work to buildcapacity in the participants to do this work without the facilitator. We can celebrate that we’ve arrived at each point,but don’t expect an end-point.Q: How do you evaluate? What do you evaluate?Personally, I evaluate the stories people tell. The first day of our workshop will start with that: “How do you evaluatechange?” Each person will name it differently.Much of the work of dialogue goes unnoticed. So in evaluation are you valuing only the peace treaty or are younoticing what’s different in trends, where there’s an increased amount of people talking together, are they moreinclusive or not?Paying attention to the intangibles is important. Einstein said: “Not everything that can be counted counts, and noteverything that counts can be counted.” In other words, what you don’t see matters and what you see may not matter.So identify people who have a lot of social capital and that because of their transformation others shifts consequentlyhappen.At the end of the day all that we are is a network of relationships; and relationships are never finished. That’s veryvisible in democratic dialogue - we’re tackling big problems that don’t fit into any one government term.The following table offers steps through which one can move from the governing principles, goals, qualities andguidelines for behaviors in a dialogic process.The Dialogue Approach: Governing Goals Qualities Behaviors Principles • Inclusiveness • Engage all parts of the system • Respectfulness • Inquire to learn • Joint ownership • Create the conditions for change • Transparency • Share what you know • Learning on the basis of important issues. • Openness • Listen empathetically • Humanity • Foster learning: facilitate deeper • Empathy • Reflect back what you are hearing • Long-term understanding Authenticity • Explore underlying assumptions - perspective • Create the sense of safety • Patience yours and those of others required for openness • Flexibility • Acknowledge emotions as well as • Foster commitment to achieving ideas and opinions sustainable change. • Adjust course to reflect new knowledge or undersetandingPruitt, B. and Thomas, P. (2007) Democratic Dialogue-A Handbook for Practitioners. Washington, DC: OAS, International IDEA, and UNDP, p49.Philip Thomas founded the Generative Change Community, a learning platform for individuals and institutionsseeking to create capacity for multi-stakeholder processes as a strategy for social change. It was launched in 2005 asa global community of international development practitioners focused on strengthening the world’s capacity toaddress complex challenges collectively through dialogic processes.The CP Yen Foundation invites you participate in Philip’s workshop on November 4-6, 2011, 9am-5pm. Visitwww.cpyen.org to register.