Ok, so i’m vaguely in the middle of writing up a post about Asset Based Community Development. It’s going in a strange direction so i’m not completely convinced it will work yet! Anyway, I was in the middle of writing about ABCD when I had this idea, and going back to my earlier blog post about lightning talks I thought hmmm, this should be a micropost.
Essentially it goes like this
Asset Based Community Development is a community building process where you take a neighbourhood, you actually talk to the people 1 who live there about the things they care about, the things they can do, the things they care enough about to actually use their skills to change. You build up this knowledge into an asset map of the strengths and opportunities within a community. That asset map then forms a basis for connecting skills, people and assets together to do more than they can do on their own.
The aim is to build up agency and connectivity within the community to a point where people actively start joining together to be more than they can be as individuals.
This is a great idea. There are hundreds of examples of this approach improving and strengthening communities. These range from neighbours sharing gardens right through to communities forming youth groups to actively reduce anti social behaviour.
Which led me to thinking about whether ABCD can be used within different kinds of communities, for different purposes perhaps. Could it be used within workplaces? What if I just substitute the word community with organisation? or with staff 2?
Enter Asset Based Staff Development
So with a simple twist of the words we have a slightly different concept. Nothing revolutionary, just a reframed vision.
So now, when it comes to organisational development, we stop thinking about the needs of the organisation, the skills gaps and resource deficiencies. We start thinking about the strengths of the organisation, the key skills and the joint working opportunities.
How do we do this? We ask Staff some simple questions:
- What do you care about in our organisation? (What do you love, What are you concerned about? What are you interested in?)
- Which of those things do you care about enough, enjoy enough 3 to actively do more of?
- What skills could you provide to help do more of them?
- What do you need to help you achieve this?
And to be fair these are examples – the aim is to start from a point of appreciative rather than critical inquiry.
We use this to build a map of the opportunities – groups of shared interests who want to join up, projects needing multiple, complementary skills, ideas without a team to lift them off the ground.
And finally – we just make those connections happen. Maybe its through innovation days, maybe its through free afternoons or maybe it’s just a chat over coffee 4.
I think the result of this could be a stronger, more resilient, more connected workforce. A workforce which builds on the strengths it already has, rather than tries to infill the weaknesses.
Its an easy process to twist
I suppose we don’t have to stop at staff. You could perhaps widen it to circles of any interest, though for me staff communities (especially in local gov) have a lot in common with neighbourhood communities. The range of interests and focuses is very diverse, the skills and strengths of individuals are often hidden behind the day job, and most of all, it’s very easy not to connect with the people outside your service.
What do you think? Could it work? Could we build better organisations just by mapping our assets before our deficiencies? The answer, for me, is yes 5 – and in some ways I have already experienced it via things like unconferences and ABCD workshops.