Mapping Community Strengths and Assets
Taking a strengths-based approach is one of the core principles of community-led development. This resource describes how to take a strength- or asset-based approach and is a useful tool to help explore and capture the gifts, talents and strengths in your community.
Tensions, Learning and Adaptation
Leaders can help create and model a non-defensive climate of learning, reflection and inquiry where people can give and receive feedback and find a way forward. Effective leaders take time to reflect on their own thoughts, assumptions, feelings and behaviours. This allows them to understand the part they can play, and what is beyond their control or is not a priority to try to change right now.
The Leadership as Learning Framework describes four interwoven dimensions of change: personal, relational, structural and cultural. These are also identified in our Quadrants of Change framework as important areas to pay attention to if we want to impact and sustain transformation in communities.
Leadership is a bit like riding a surfboard on an always moving sea. Sometimes the tides ebb and flow gently and simple habits like being open to feedback help us re-balance. We can go from vulnerable “I don’t know” moments back to our strong selves with relative ease. Other times, bigger waves dump us into stormier waters. Rip-currents might even push us towards the edge of chaos. We come up against the darker sides, the challenges, the not so helpful behaviours, attitudes, and ways of thinking and acting. To escape from drowning in rip-currents we have to swim in not so obvious directions, finding our inner strengths and other resources around us, to come up with responses that we may never have thought of before. While it’s not a comfortable place to be in, the collision of these lighter and darker sides actually provides a creative space for innovation, learning and dynamic change.
The centre column of the Leadership as Learning framework reminds us of some of the resources we can draw on to lead us through the normal tides, waves and rip-currents of community leadership. The inner two columns on either side of the centre show some of the constructive leadership behaviours, attitudes and actions we can apply in the normal movements of the regular tides. These might look like polar opposites, but each has their time, place and use.
The outer two columns identify more destructive responses that can happen if we take positive leadership responses to any extreme. For example, the dark side of being strong can be a big, controlling ego; the dark side of vulnerable can be paralysing self-doubt. The framework encourages us to not get stuck in any one place but to see this as a sea that needs to keep moving to stay alive, learning, growing and innovating. As leaders, that means being aware and constantly adapting to what’s needed for each new wave or situation.
Let’s take a brief look at each of these four layers, helping you explore this framework with some reflective questions about what you can do to grow:
- your own leadership
- the leadership of others around you
- the leadership of organisations you work in
- the leadership of communities you live and work in
Each section includes a fictional story to illustrate the ideas offered. You can also read some of our Inspiring stories that highlight the many amazing things that communities are already doing.
Here we try to unpack some of the back story of the leadership challenges and responses that often sit behind such fantastic results. We hope these stories and ideas will support you to work with the complexities and messiness of CLD work and encourage you to hang in there to make things happen.
Working with Tāngata Whenua
Relationship-building between tāngata whenua (people of the land) and tāngata tiriti (all others who have come here) organisations, groups and communities is a core component of Community-Led Development in Aotearoa. The following resource provides three different tools to support communities in developing relationships with tāngata whenua.
Inspiring Communities is committed to a Treaty-honouring Aotearoa in which people actively participate in shaping their communities. Here’s some information on Our Engagement with Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
A stakeholder is any person or organisation that has an interest or influence in what you want to achieve. Once you have identified your purpose or outcome, it’s useful to think about who might be useful to engage with to support to support your community-led change efforts.
So let’s get started
There are many different ways that stakeholder mapping can be approached. They generally involve a mix of:
Levels of stakeholder participation and collaboration
Stakeholders can collaborate with you at varying levels. Some will want to be more involved than others.
A final check
- Are these stakeholders reflected in your stakeholder scan? How?
- Who else might have a stake in the outcomes but not have influence, money or an initial desire to be involved?
- What else can you do to engage with and involve them?
Neighbourhood Strengthening Ideas
In 2016, Jim Diers visited Aotearoa and toured with the Inspiring Communities team nationwide to share his own thought leadership and learnings amongst our own communities.
Inspiring Communities’ Practice Lead Megan Courtney captured these ideas around strengthening neighbourhoods and distilled these into a one-page summary and resource.
Click here for more information about Jim and his work.
Tips for organising a street BBQ
Getting together with your neighbours is one of the many things you might do to help build a sense of community in your street. You might start by inviting a couple of neighbours over for morning tea or a pot luck lunch. For residents keen on putting together something a little larger in scale, Massey Matters has produced this handy ‘how to’ guide to help make your job a little easier.
CLD Planning and Evaluation Framework
Tightly defined, traditional planning approaches don’t easily suit the very emergent, adaptive work of CLD. Developing a Theory of Change framework will enable you to collectively work to identify your goals, review your progress and adapt your thinking and actions accordingly. It helps us all be more adaptive, nimble-footed and effective in the way we act.
Facilitating Effective Teamwork and Learning
CLD needs good facilitation skills and teamwork. It’s essential to grow a high trust culture from the beginning; where learning from failure and success is the norm.
Community-led development needs good facilitation skills and teamwork. It’s essential to grow a high trust culture from the beginning; where learning from failure and success is the norm. We may come to the party with fears and disappointments from past failures, so it’s important to spend time on whakawhanaungatanga/getting to know each other; sharing our stories, hopes, fears, vulnerabilities and strengths; and achieving some small wins together. This all helps to create a foundation of trust and commitment. We can then build on that foundation to harvest learning from our doing.
Here are a few strategies for overcoming common challenges in growing a high trust culture. Click the image to access the resource.
Essential conditions for change
Are the essential conditions for change present in your community?
Here are some key success factors as well as some practical examples of these in action, to get you thinking about what would work in your community.