Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Strengths-Based Approach to Key Roles in the Creation of Change

When it comes to making change in communities and organizations, there are a few key roles that make change possible.

One group is the group of innovators, visionaries, and entrepreneurs. These are the people who have the power of dreams.

Another is the group of formal leaders who have the power to develop people's capacity for change. These are the people who have the power of development.

Another is the group of informal leaders who also develop capacity for change - but all through invitation. These are the people who have the power of facilitation.

There is the group of managers who have the formal community/organizational responsibility and resources to engage people in making changes happen. They are the people who have the power of assignment.

Finally, there is the group of network weavers who can be in any of these three groups and who facilitate new relationships to serve new outcomes related to the changes taking place. They are the people who have the power of connecting.

What's interesting and important to understand is that all five roles can overlap and all five roles are necessary for successful change.

One person can play one or more or all roles while another can and will play only one of these roles. There are several factors determining how many roles people can play at a time:
  • The scope of the formal power and access to resources they have
  • Their strengths in terms of knowledge and skills
  • The strength of their personal networks
  • Their commitment to change & willingness to engage in it
  • Their personal bandwidth of time and energy

One of the core elements that makes any of these roles effective is that they are approached from a strengths-based perspective.

This perspective is characterized by an emphasis on knowing and engaging people's strengths - what and who they do know, what they can do, what they do have, what they do want, what's working for them and what they're achieving and why.

The other aspect is to re-focus people when conditions and events cause them too naturally get distracted with their deficiencies - what and who they don't know, what they can't do, what they don't have, what they don't want, what's not working and what they're not achieving and why.

This is an excerpt from an upcoming book, "Dream Space" (2007 Jack Ricchiuto)