Carla Rogers | April 2017

Did we get your attention?

At Evolve we have had the fortune of working with hundreds of organisations (and through them thousands of people). Our work is ultimately about helping organisations and their clients solve tough problems together. The problems are invariably ‘wicked’ and include dilemmas that vary from increasing organisational productivity and performance to closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage. While the problems are varied, the approach that we take and what works share common threads.

The strongest common thread is a design thinking approach that places the client or customer at the heart of your program. NOT doing this is pretty much the root cause of each mistake.

Now, given that we are solutions focused and strengths based at Evolve, let’s flip the mistakes to ‘must do’s’. These are the building blocks of Evolve’s Songlines™ Engagement model. To make this as useful as possible, we present it as a rapid checklist for you to review when designing/delivering your next program. Here we go:

1. What, Why, and Who before the How

  • Do you have a deep understanding of the ‘What’ – the parameters of the program (for example what is negotiable, what is non-negotiable?)
  • What is the big WHY for the program, why are you doing it? Have you clearly defined objectives and success criteria?
  • Do you have a deep understanding of the needs of those that will be affected by the program – the WHO?

2. Co – Design – placing the client at the heart of the problem

  • Do you have a way to involve client representatives in the design of the program?
  • Have you explored with the client the WHY (Purpose) and WHO (Needs of Participants) before developing a detailed approach (HOW)

3. Walk a mile in my shoes (empathy) and partnerships

  • Do you have a deep understanding of client needs and what it takes to develop a meaningful relationship?
  • Does your team have the skills/capacity to meet these needs (for example adequate cultural awareness/competency)?
  • Do you have a client/community ‘champion’ that you can partner with and learn from towards the success of the program?

4. Leverage strengths

  • Have you assessed what is currently working and explored ways to build on this?
  • Do you know what is already going on (for e.g. what community – driven programs are already being delivered) and what is or isn’t working?

5. Big thinking focused and resourced action

  • While your goal might be ambitious (and why not? – it should be) do you have SMART objectives and focused action to achieve immediate and smaller wins?
  • Do you ask with every action – how is this moving us towards the goal?
  • Have you prioritised your actions? (We find Gary Keller’s question and approach (The One Thing, 2013) enormously useful – What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?)
  • Have you “Put your money where your mouth is” or perhaps more eloquently expressed “Put your dollars where your values are?”. That is, have you adequately resourced your client/community so they can be active in the co-design?

6. Robust self-reflection, self-appraisal and self-assessment

  • Do you have ways to relentlessly iterate and innovate with your client?
  • Do you regularly ask what is working and, – what isn’t? Can you co-design and make the changes needed?

7. It’s not over till it’s over – on-going relationships

  • What strategies do you have to ensure timely, relevant feedback and reporting to the client?
  • How will you develop and foster a meaningful relationship with the client during and after the program?

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