A LITTLE OFF KEY
The clatter of chairs being arranged on the concrete church basement floor provides the opening notes for tonight’s meeting. For the past few months a few of you have been listening to people talk about “what needs to be done.”Of course, you have been kind of prodding them by talking about what might be different, and even what they have that they can use to make things better. You and your partner Carrie have had a number of faceto-face conversations with individuals to get a sense of things and to stir some interest. You have identified some key stakeholders, but you have decided not to talk with those who seem to just want things their way. You don’t have time for that. You and the other members of the core group have gathered some good information from the conversations and from other sources. The flip charts are in place. You have the marking pens, little sticky dots for voting, and even a brief introductory PowerPoint presentation that gives a little background and identifies a range of issues that you have been hearing about. You have some provocative questions prepared and three other people to lead parts of the session. You’re going to put together a plan. “Come on, let’s get going.”It’s Allan; you can hear his irritation. He’s already told you that planning is what people who aren’t willing to act do to waste time. Other people are getting a little fidgety too. You take that as a good sign. The energy is high.“Okay, says Carrie,“let’s start.” After her introductory piece no one says anything. Uh oh. But then three people begin to talk at once, and things get going. Sounds like everyone has the same sense of what’s important. You take them through the images of potentiality, and their creativity begins to shape pictures of a better future that you’d never have thought of. They seem to enjoy brainstorming, though a few find it hard not to criticize or discuss ideas. Five different things emerge as general goals, and you go through each one, looking for the obstacles you will face. Lots of obstacles. That early energy seems to be draining. Then, again, it’s been a long night. Time to figure out what tasks need to be done. “One last step. Then we’ll go home,”you say to get the group back on track.“So, what are some of the things we should be doing this year?”you ask. No one says anything. Uh oh. REFLECTION QUESTIONS
1. What parts are in place that will be helpful in putting together an effective plan?
2. What seems to be missing?
3. What is happening that might make things more difficult?
4. What planning steps are being taken? What other steps would you suggest?
5. What time frame for the plan has been established?
6. What is being done to promote interest? What else needs to be done?
7. What techniques are being used? How might they be used a bit better?
8. What information is present to help the participants? What seems to be missing?
9. Which planning obstacles are being faced?
10. How will this group determine if the plan is being worked and if it is working?
11. Who owns the plan? How can this be seen?