9-20 October 2003
SANREM CRSP – West Africa
Purpose of the trip: to 1) successfully confront and resolve the relationship issues between the villages of Tatia and Nouna; 2) facilitate learning about conflicts associated with diversity; and 3) continue to improve the skills of the CCGRN.
Accomplishments: Leaders of the two villages in conflict were brought together with the CCGRN. The two-day workshop was held in each village, with the first day in Tatia and the second day in Nouna. Village leaders from each village attended both days. Elements of the training module that addresses conflicts associated with diversity were introduced to the participants. In this workshop, participants learn that diversity adds richness to a community. In addition, the conflict of herders gathering at the “gateway” of Nouna was successfully confronted. All participants received graduation certificates.
Key observations: The interaction during the two days was respectful. The attitude continues to be one of confidence that successful resolution is possible and cooperation is the preferred outcome. This is reflected in the village chiefs and their appreciation for coming to their villages, drum processions when beginning the session, the warmth of the greeting circle, and the intensity of respectful listening during large and small group activities. The numbers of people continue to grow, with over 60 participants each day. A few of the participants came from villages outside the Madiama community as they have heard of the success.
It was reported that the CCGRN is not using this process in their regular meetings. This is a missed opportunity. The CCGRN seems most comfortable now using skits to teach their message. This can be an effective method to communicate this process to village leaders. Non-verbal behaviors are the important message to communicate when resolving conflict. Respectful listening is the core component of human behavior.
Translation is difficult at times. The concepts are translated through several languages. The participants usually seem to grasp the concepts, however, there are times when extra time is required to make a point clear. Sometimes, there is an impatience to wait for translation to Peul. The translator often used is not very forceful or engaging, which is often important for the work to correct behaviors. Past patterns of success for the group, such as using skits to relate concepts gets in the way of learning new concepts. This could be a function of too much time between training opportunities.
There are several elements not being used in the conflict resolution / consensus building sessions. These elements are important for creating successful resolution to conflicts. The elements do not have to be used in every scenario; however, the frequency that these elements are not used over the several years causes concern that all the tools for success are not understood. These elements include:
1. Start with the grounding first, doing the 3 questions and bringing new participants into process,
2. Counting off when forming small groups,
3. Let everyone finish what they are saying, including individuals in the small group,
4. Remind large group facilitators to remain outside the circle as they co-facilitate with me,
5. Let groups self-select next facilitator,
6. Do adaptive learning individually, instead of a few doing it collectively
7. Do all translations (honor all language speakers),
8. Have to learn to incorporate worst and best possible outcomes into work,
9. Do more honoring of individuals.
Overall, the behaviors observed this year continue to suggest phenomenal success and improving conditions in the villages. Crop yields have increased and violent crime is non-existent. There is a genuine interest in learning these skills. Even though several CCGRN members were sick with malaria during this trip, they chose to attend both days of the workshop.
Mali Trip Report
Carl Jeffry Goebel
October 9-20, 2003
Purpose of the trip: to successfully confront and resolve the relationship issues between the villages of Tatia and Nouna, to facilitate learning about conflicts associated with diversity, and to continue to improve the skills of the CCGRN.
October 9 (Thursday)
I drove to Seattle where I spent the night at a hotel near SeaTac airport.
October 10-11 (Friday & Saturday)
left for Detroit at 12:30 pm and continued flying without incident to Paris and Bamako, arriving in Bamako at 9:00 pm on Saturday night.
A note of interest, two Americans were sitting on the Air France plane behind me. As we waited to deplane, I asked why they were in Mali. They very nervously said they were attending an anti-terrorism workshop in Bamako for the next couple of days. The one fellow seemed like he had heard of my work, as he asked if I was with the WSU project. My mind thought about the irony of meetings focused on anti-terrorism, while at the same time our project is bridging relationships.
October 12 (Sunday)
I met our driver, Ali, and Moussa at 8:00 am after a good night’s rest. I asked if it were possible to find a bank to exchange currency. The hotel staff found someone who would give me a fair exchange on a Sunday. We also got 2 cases of water, leaving Bamako at 10 am.
On the way to Madiama, a fan belt pulley froze in the Ford Bronco, which required us to remove the fan belt. This stopped power to the fan, air conditioning, alternator and power steering. The driver and Moussa decided it was best to drive to Sevare to get a new truck, instead of Djenne. The truck overheated once, so we stopped at a village along the road at dusk and refilled the radiator. We arrived at Sevare at 7 pm.
October 13 (Monday)
We left Hotel Sevar at 8:00 am and went to IER with . said we would come back to Sevar on Wednesday evening and drive to Bamako on Thursday for a meeting with Keith, and myself. We arrived at Madiama after a stop in Sirogourou at 2 pm. We met at Todd Crane’s residence, next to Diallo’s home. Ciss and Issa were also there. We agreed to meet the committee from 4 to 5:15pm (for those who could come as several are sick with malaria). We did a grounding and an adaptive learning. Todd translated. I learned they are excited that I am back, two more villages want to join, and they are using the process successfully in their families. We made plans to work in Tatia Tuesday and Nouna on Wednesday. We would pick up the Madiama group at 8:30 in the morning.
We left to take a message to Siragourou, saw Ciss at Tombo who was sick with malaria, and then proceeded to the ferry. The river was the highest that I have ever seen and there was a lot of traffic due to market day in Djenn. We arrived in Djenn at 7 pm. I located Toka about translation services but he was not available because he has school. ahamado will translate. I could not find Abdoulaye.
October 14 (Tuesday)
We left at 8:20 am for CARE. Abdoulaye was there and described how there were only 3 staff left from once what was over 45 people. He is hoping the USAID project with democracy will come through. Abdoulaye was not able to attend today, but maybe tomorrow.
We missed the first ferry, as there were many vehicles. This delay prevented us from arriving in Madiama until 9:30. We arrived in Tatia at 10 and were greeted with a drumming procession. I saw this as a significant symbol indicating these villages were ready to resolve their differences and proceed to a new and better future. Sixty people plus children were in the village center. People from villages beyond the project villages were present.
I asked Moussa to help me facilitate for the day. Moussa shifted power to Issa and the extension people as to the design. Issa and I began with greetings and the purpose of the meeting. I said I was asked to facilitate this session because of the difficult conflict between the two villages and my credibility to resolve issues. Next, Issa facilitated a greeting circle and a grounding with everyone, which only included introductions. After the introductions, we were asked to meet the village chief in his home. He seemed very happy that we had come to work on resolving the tension between the two villages. When we got back to the group, Issa led adaptive learning about the experience of the greeting circle. Many positive comments were made about the greeting circle, as usual. There are many Peul-only villagers from Nouna. There are also Marka, Bambara and Bozo ethnic groups present.
I created six small groups by honoring the Committee, Tatia residents, Nouna residents and government leaders. The six women on the committee were also equally dispersed. The Committee and village leaders decided to divide the groups up by selecting who would be in what group, rather than the more random process of counting off. I decided to trust the process and not intervene. This took time. Once they were in their small groups, I gave them the first questions, which were, “What is their experience with diversity and how do they feel about it?” The group worked on the task. It was now time for prayer and lunch so I decided to have reports out after we returned.
We got started again after lunch and prayer. There was concern expressed about the time and the distance they would need to go at the end of the day since Tatia is on the edge of the commune. I asked what time they needed to finish by in order to get home in an appropriate time and planned my afternoon for that. I had two groups report out. We rotated facilitators and had some difficulty with the term “facilitators.” They see this role as “leader,” which in our language makes me a little uncomfortable with the perceptions of domination rather than “guide.” I see the role of facilitator as “a guide on the side, not the sage on the stage.”
Language is a difficult medium to teach with and modeling, or imitating, the effective behavior is far more powerful. Consequently, I am mindful of my model to them.
The first question I had the small groups answer after lunch was “What are the benefits of sameness?” I had two groups report out to optimize time. I rotate which groups report when I limit how many report due to time. I noticed one group selected a woman to be facilitator and report out. Next, I asked the group to answer, “What are people’s concerns about difference?” The reporting out of this question indicated they understood the challenges humans seem to have with diversity. These reports took time due to the translation from Bambera to Peul.
We finished the work for the day as a large group. Moussa selected 8 people to report their Adaptive Learning for the day. The response was positive and their value for the day was high. Issa told about the plans for the next day and how we would meet at Nouna. Moussa Sow suggested to me that we do a confrontation of the herding and farming issue and incorporate a skit. We said goodbye to the village chief. I gave Moussa the graduation certificates to fill in each participant’s name.
After dropping people off in Madiama, we drove to Djenne, arriving at 6 pm. I met with ahamadou, Toka, Abdolaye, and Kadja. We visited about how they were doing and what they are learning. I also reflected on how to fine tune the process. Here is a list of areas I would like to see enhanced in how this process is used for Madiama:
1) Start with grounding first, doing 3 questions and bring the new participants into process,
2) Counting off when forming small groups,
3) Let everyone finish what they are saying, including individuals in the small group,
4) Remind large group facilitators to remain outside the circle as they co-facilitate with me,
5) Let groups self-select next facilitator,
6) Do adaptive learning individually, instead of a few doing it collectively
7) Do all translations (honor all language speakers),
8) Have to learn to incorporate worst and best possible outcomes into work,
9) Do more honoring of individuals.
October 15 (Wednesday)
We left Djenn at 8:15 and missed the first ferry, so we arrived in Madiama at 9:30. We picked up several committee members and took them to Nouna. The Tatia people hadn’t arrived yet. I asked Todd to translate and Ciss and Moussa Sow to facilitate. I wanted to use this opportunity to strengthen their skills and go over the concerns I wrote about at the end of the previous day. Moussa Sow suggested using the power differentiation visual activity.
First, we met the village chief. He was very respectful and gracious. He seemed very pleased that I was there working on this issue. As I understand it, he is of the Bozo ethnic group and minority in his village. The majority of community members of Nouna are Peul.
After meeting the village chief, I talked with Issa, who called Moussa, to design the beginning of the session. I said I wanted to do the grounding, greeting circle and adaptive learning. Issa only had people say their name and where they were from. I prefer to have people introduce themselves, what is the relationship to the group meeting, what are their expectations for the meeting and how do they feel, when I do a grounding. Moussa then led the greeting circle and the adaptive learning about the greeting circle. The adaptive learning and greeting circle seem to be a strong point for them to remember to listen with respect. There was an issue of impatience with translating from Bambara to Peul.
I asked them to organize six small groups. They did, arranging them again as a diverse group of Committee members, Tatia village representatives and Nouna village representatives. I had Moussa Sow ask “What is the evidence of being discriminated against?”
While the groups were answering the question, I told Ciss & Moussa Sow that I selected them as facilitators as I knew they were community leaders of this process. I wanted to give them a chance to ask any questions of me and give them some of the thoughts I have to enhance the quality of the process. They asked how do I know if people are in conflict? How do I recognize conflict between people? They wanted to ask the group. I said that the question being answered currently in the groups was the answer to their question. We had reports out and many good insights were shared. The insights included that not having their own language spoken was an example of being discriminated against.
One problem that continues is that facilitators are asking, “Has everyone (groups) finished?” when instead they should be asking, “Has everyone had a chance to speak at least once?” If a few individuals dominate the group, those individuals may answer that they are finished and it’s time to move on. However, reinforcing the importance of each person having a chance to speak is critical to reaching consensus. Another challenge is the time lapse between the sessions I teach. Each trip, I have to start over. Several habits have formed that are getting harder to break as they get more confident in the manner in which they do things. This level of adoption and adaptation is fine, however, it limits the amount of new ideas I can contribute.
Next, I wanted to form a panel of herders and farmers, selected out of each of the small groups. Todd was caught up with Albadia who was trying to tell Todd, so he could tell me, what the groups said in the reports. Occasionally, I like to hear what is being said so I know they are on track. I am also interested in their answers. However, as I have mentioned in previous reports, my personal interest is not worth the time it takes away from the group and from the workshop.
I asked Ciss to select six people and he did. Issa was selected as one of the panel members and appeared to be impatient. However, he selected people to represent opposite views. I honored his decision. The selected issue was about a group of herders waiting to move the herds through the “gateway” of Nouna into the Delta.
I decided to draw an illustration on the ground with a stick. I showed six panel members, three on a side. I added a listener each to the illustration. Ciss and Moussa understood the diagram and got things started, even though the panel was still confused. The listeners slowed things down, which was good and intentional.
I asked Micha (representing the herders) to go first but Issa wanted to go first so he used his power to speak first. He thought they were doing the skit, it appeared, and he started acting out the conflict versus speaking respectfully about the situation from his own point of view. Taking the lead from Issa, his listener was aggressive to the opposing party, relaying Issa’s message. When he was finished, we let the farmer representative go next with his listener. Again, the confrontation style was used versus listening with respect and being objective. I pointed this out to Ciss and Todd reaffirmed in French.
We got through the barrier that forming the panel had created. We honored the group then in small groups, I had them discuss what they heard the panel say. Then we did the worst possible outcomes of not confronting this issue. The responses were very serious such as “killing, death, harm, and becomes a bigger issue.” I explained about worst outcomes and why I do this activity as lunch arrived.
We ate and allowed for prayer time. People started gathering back. I got Moussa and Todd to help with the next task, which was creating a visual of diversity. I had everyone line up from shortest to tallest, and then had Moussa match similar heights behind each other. This visual created a bell shaped or “normal” curve. I pulled the “average” line out of the group, which was five men, the same height. I said this was uniform and the basic instinctual desire of people was to all be like this.
Next, I selected every third person along the line of different height people from Issa, who is the tallest, to a short woman. This created a cross-section of heights with six people. The difference in heights was very obvious, especially as compared to the same height group of men. I said the diverse group is more stable in a population. I showed a drawing of a bell-shaped curve on the ground. I drew a narrow bell-shaped curve within this curve and said this was very unstable. Finally, I drew a broad based bell-shaped curve and said this one is more stable.
I pointed to the uniform group saying the tendency is for everyone to be similar like all Bambara, or all Peul. Next, I pointed to the diverse group saying this group represents a community comprised of a diversity of Bambara, Peul, Bozo, and Marka. I had everyone go back to their small groups and answer the question, “What best possible outcomes meets the needs of herders and farmers?” The answers were predominately that it was important to reach common agreement and to talk and listen. People were patient to have this translated into Peul.
I explained that we can create a problem solving condition in the mind of “how” to foster the best possible outcomes. I had the small groups discuss the disadvantages of sameness and the value of diversity. I used the last exercise for the workshop’s adaptive learning.
The final activity of the day was for me to pass out certificates I had made back home and brought with me as a symbol of the completion of learning that they had attained. Moussa assisted me, as he wrote out the names on all the certificates. On hindsight, I should have also had Issa, as President, also hand these out with us. Everyone got a certificate as I brought 65 blank certificates with me. They seemed to like receiving the recognition.
I also gave Abdoulaye Cissé, Moussa Sow, and Amadou Cissé the posters I had made as workshop visuals. These men represented the community facilitators. I gave Issa an illustrated book about salmon recovery from the Pacific Northwest as a gift for the Committee in recognition of their commitment. I mentioned to the participants how the salmon was the center of great conflict in the region I am from. Issa and Cissé, from Nérékoro, talked about the symbolism of the certificates and how it was important for the participants to take this work out to the villages now that they have certificates. The certificates seemed to validate their capabilities.
We did a final greeting circle and closing words before we finished.
October 16 (Thursday)
We got ready to go by 8 am. I finished up my notes while we waited. Finally, Ashook came by at 11:30 to let us know it would be around noon before we would leave. Ashook drove me to the bank to exchange some travelers’ checks. We got on the road and made a detour through Madiama to bring some pain relief medicine to be used in one of the villages.
We arrived in Bamako close to 8 pm at Hotel Le Loft. I met with Keith at 9 pm. It was good to see him. We agreed to meet for a couple of hours on Friday to talk about the trip and the conflict chapter for the SANREM book.
October 17 (Friday)
I had a good meeting with Keith. I shared with Keith my learning and insights about the past few days in Madiama. Those insights are built into this report. Next, we talked about how to bring out the “feeling” component of the work in Madiama in the textbook. We developed some strategies.
I left for the airport at 8:00 pm and headed to Paris.
October 18 (Saturday)
I got to Paris at 6:30 am. First, I went to see if I could move up the Northwest Airlines flight by a day, but couldn’t. I made plans to spend the night at the airport and wander through Paris for the day and evening.
October 19 (Sunday)
boarded the plane on time in Paris and ended up having to wait for two and a half hours at the gate because a woman did not board with her luggage. They could not find her luggage and finally found her in the terminal and were interrogating her. Finally, they found the luggage, searched it, let her on board, and we took off.
I arrived late in Detroit but made the connection because that plane was delayed. The next plane arrived in Seattle about 45 minutes late.
October 20 (Monday)
I drove home, arriving in Redmond, Oregon at 1 pm.
What are the benefits of sameness?
- What are the concerns of difference?
- What is the evidence you are being discriminated against?
- What is the situation that confronts us? A confrontation
- Panel with listeners
- Small group talking circle
- Recording and reporting
What are the worst possible outcomes of both parties?
The Normal Curve
What will be the best possible outcomes for all if we work together?
Creating a continuum of responses
What are the limitations of sameness?
What are the benefits of diversity?
By Bob Chadwick, Consensus and Associates
* WHO IS NORMAL?
I was raised to believe that normal was anyone who was average. "Abnormal" included people who were different than the average. The "average" played a big part in creating the realities of my life.
It is important to help people make the shift from our present understanding of normal, to a more realistic and holistic view. I use this visual experience as a means to that end. I have recorded the steps and the insights I provide, but it must be understood that these are changed and adapted to fit each group.
STEP 1. THE NORMAL CURVE: I ask the participants to remove the circle of chairs and stand to one end of the room. On the other end, I have taped the numbers 1 to 10 on the wall. I ask them to move to a number that describes their measurement.
I begin with shoe size, asking those with a size 5 to move to the number 1. Those with a size 6 are asked to move to the number 2, size 7 to number 3, etc. The result is a normal, or bell shaped curve.
x x x x
x x x x x
x x x x # x x x
o x x x x x x x *
Shoe size 5 6 7 8 9 10 12 13
The average is normally obvious. I acknowledge that a size 9 shoe appears to be the average, and ask; How would the size 5 feel if we made all shoes a size 9? How would the size 13 feel if we made all the shoes a size 9? The response is thunderous. NO WAY!
I then ask; "Who is normal in this curve?" There is some laughter and joking as people point out others as abnormal. I then make the point that this is a normal curve for this group. Everyone under the curve is "normal."
I point out that the average really doesn’t exist. For instance, how many people have 2.3 children? There is obviously no such thing as 0.3 persons. The average is a mathematical measure helpful in understanding the population, but meaningless without a measure of the dispersion about the average.
STEP 2 NORMAL CURVES DIFFER BY ATTRIBUTE MEASURED: I ask the members to rearrange themselves in another normal curve. This one is based on height. Those 5 feet or less in height move to the 1, those 5 feet 3 inches and less move to the 2, etc. The result is a new normal curve.
x x x
x x x
x x x x # x x
x x o x x * x x
Height 5′ 6′ 7′
I ask the group again, who is normal? Those who were at the far end of the curve, are now in the center ("o", "*", "#"). If a person is not normal in one curve, is it possible to be normal on the other? The fact is, all under the normal curve are "normal."
I can use other measurements like age, weight, income, etc.
STEP 3. THE AVERAGE GROUP, THE DIVERSE GROUP: I now have the group experience the difference between "average" and "diverse." I may use the height curve, or some other measurement that has been useful for the group.
c d e f
b c d e f g
b c d e f g h
a b c d e f g h i
If I pull out the average group, (the "e e e e e e")I have a group of average people. If I design my activity, or product for that group, or my product, then everyone under the normal curve must be satisfied with that outcome. This will not happen, of course, resulting in a demand for "exceptions." This average group, admittedly, is easier to work with because they are the same, there is little difference. The main struggle will be an effort to establish the "pecking order."
This group fits a "standard job description, a standard learning plan, a standard uniform, because there is little diversity. There is little learning possible in this situation, because each person is a mirror image of the other.
If I remove the bottom line, (the "a b c d e f g h i"), I have a very diverse group. Now, standard will no longer work. Each is different. Each person is a learning opportunity for the other.
The manager, the teacher who confronts this group must be situational, flexible, understanding the richness inherent in this diversity. This person must know how to tap this richness to foster the potential of each person, the potential of the organization.
STEP 4: HIGH TRACK – LOW TRACK: I can now help the group experience the effect that "average" and "abnormal" thinking has on students, or employees. I ask those who are below the average line to move two steps to the left, creating a breach, a rift, between those who are above average, and those who are below average. This results in what is known as the "low track" and the "high track" performers. The motivation for the teacher, or the manager is to create like groups of people who are "easier" to work with. Standard approaches will work for them.
<– LOW TRACK – HIGH TRACK –>
c d e f
b c d e f g
b c d e f g h
a b c d e f g h I
These tracks are based on one measurement, remember. No-one tries to determine if the membership on either side of the rift would change with another measurement.
STEP 5: CATEGORIZING: Much to everyone’s chagrin, the low track and high track approach doesn’t provide enough standardization. There is still too much diversity in the classroom. Another set of categories is created, the "gifted and talented" and the "at-risk" or "developmentally impaired." I ask those at either end of the curve to take to steps to the left or right, to create additional separations between groups of "like" individuals.
<– AT LOW HIGH GIFTED –>
RISK TRACK TRACK TALENTED
c d e f
b c d e f g
b c d e f g h
a b c d e f g h I
Each move to categorize the groups results in a decrease in diversity. But, this grouping is now subject to a natural phenomenon, the natural distribution of individuals in any population, in some form of "pecking order."
STEP 6: RE-NORMALIZING: Studies have been done with many animal and human groups, exploring the impact of categorizing. A study was done with a normal group of rats, placing them in an enclosed space. Within a short time a pecking order was established. The rats created a hierarchy of power and privilege. The stronger, smarter, superior rats were provided all the privileges, while the weaker, dumber, inferior rats were bitten, denied food, space, and privileges.
* * *
* * * * *
x * * * * * o
x x * * * * * o o
x x x * * * * * o o o
x x x x x * * * * * o o o o o
x x x x x x x x * * * * * o o o o o o o o
The researchers took the most powerful rats (the "o" in the curve) and placed them in another enclosed territory. The result was they recreated the power and privilege distribution. This meant that some of the previously privileged rats were now denied privileges, were weaker, dumber, less powerful.
o o o o o o
o o o o o o o o o o o o o
No Power All Power
or Privilege and Privilege
STEP 6: RE-NORMALIZING:
What is more profound, is the re-normalizing that occurred with the weakest rats ( the "x") in the first groups. They were also placed in another enclosed space. They also recreated the power and privilege distribution. But, now they were at the most powerful end of the spectrum. They now evidence the same power and privilege rights as the previous "powerful" group of rats.
x x x x x x
x x x x x x x x x x x x x
No Power All Power
or Privilege and Privilege
As long as we are influenced by the belief in the normality of the average, we will develop the categorizing that is described above. The result is that we tend to reduce peoples performance, rather than improve it. We inhibit potential, rather than foster it.
What happens to the "low track" person who decides to redistribute the power in his low track group, seeking to become the greatest in the group? He, or she, becomes labeled as a "troublemaker." Discipline (read punishment) must be applied to keep this person in line with expectations.
A shift in belief is needed, from:
Performance to potential.
Power to empowerment.
Average to diverse.
Single measurement to diverse measurement.
Categorizing to actualizing.
STEP 7: THE ADAPTIVE ENDS: We pay so much attention to the average that we tend to trivialize those who are the ends of the curve. They are seen as abnormal. Few recognize the adaptive value of the representatives at the tail ends of the curve.
If an organism exists in an environment with temperatures between 67 to 75 degrees, it’s normal curve may look like this:
x x x
x x x x x
x x x x x x x
x x x x x x x x x
x x x x x x x x x x x x x
Temperature 67 75
If there is a temperature shift to 65 to 77 degrees, it is the ends of the curve that will adapt and provide the diversity to live within these new conditions. If the temperature is limited to 69 to 73 degrees, it is the adaptive ends that will change to live under the new conditions, retaining the original diversity in the event the temperature range becomes broader.
The adaptive ends are the location of the greatest learning potentials.