Dee (a colleague) and I are currently doing some workshops on the strengths perspective and asset based community development (ABCD) for a national organisation. Dee’s doing 14 workshops and I’m assisting with 6 of them. (She gets to go to places like Perth, Darwin, Townsville: I go to Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane.) It’s been interesting refining the workshop so that it fits this particular context. We’ve found that it is ABCD that seems to grab people’s interest and enthusiasm.
I like the concept of creating a container for the workshop and we have worked hard to do this. We’ve found that world cafe, is helping. There are other things going on in the organisation that means that some people are somewhat suspicious and we have found that it helps if we can get a feel for the group, allow participants to get some things off their chest but also encourage them to identify positives of the organisation too. It is a bit of a balancing act as we don’t want to create a negative vibe, but unless we acknowledge some of the challenges, it seems that some participants can be fairly resistant.
In the strengths perspective, we focus on strengths and possibilities (the half glass full) but it seems to me that it is important to acknowledge challenges and difficulties. It’s also been making me think about what is different about strengths based workshops. But more about that some other time.