Learning For Change Workshop Report Stockholm, 19-20 February 2016

Facilitators: Marilyn Mehlmann, Alexander Mehlmann


On 19 and 20 February 2016, Global Action Plan International organized a two-day Learning For Change workshop at their Secretariat in Stockholm. Students, researchers, business practitioners, organization leaders and educators gathered to learn from each other's experiences in sustainability.

It was an inspiring, exciting and productive workshop filled with great energy, lots of Aha! moments and laughter

Workshop Programme

The first day of the workshop was a compressed version of the Collaborative Learning form of L4C, bringing together people from different companies, departments or projects and enabling each other to learn. The second day was used for participants to get a deeper understanding of the methods and tools, to ask questions, and to discuss possible future collaborations.

DAY 1 - Friday 19 February

Morning session

1. Throw the Ball

The participants were invited to gather in a circle and throw an imaginary ball to each other. The person who has the ball was asked to briefly talk about who they are, where they come from, and why they came to the workshop. By doing this exercise it became clear that the group was quite international, with 8 different nationalities!

On the morning of DAY 1, the partipants were divided into 3 different Home Groups.

2. Case study Presentation & Satisfactions

Participants were asked to prepare a case study in advance, to decide on a situation (personal or professional) from which they feel they still have something to learn, where they have wanted to influence other people to change their behaviour.

Within their groups, participants were asked to present their case studies to each other and to share things within their situation which they feel happy about, things they are proud of.

3. Nominal Group Technique (NGT) – Dissatisfactions

In the second group session, participants engaged further in small group work focused on their case study and the things the participants would like to do differently. Each participant was invited to share their dissatisfactions within their own case study.

Thereafter, each group was asked to synthesize these written-down statements into topics using the Nominal Group Technique. The results of this process are reported

4. Key Empowerment Principles & Theories of Change

In the morning, the participants also got an introduction to several key principles that are fundamental to teaching and learning about empowerment and change. They were introduced to the Empowerment spiral, which is an alternative approach to change revising the linear knowledge-to-action model. The main elements within the model are 1. Finding out about the issue, 2. Strengthening care and awareness and 3. Acting with full intention.

Empowerment spiral

In line with this circular model, the participants were also introduced to a Theory of Change, outlined by Warren Ziegler. There are many theories of change, but most agree on one point: it’s something that happens when the conditions are right. Ziegler’s theory states that change happens when there is a reasonable balance between dissatisfaction and hope. If someone is completely content with the way things are, he/she will not need to consider changing their behaviour.

Warren Ziegler

Afternoon session

5. Four principles for Empowering Coaching

After a lovely lunch, the participants were presented with 4 principles for Empowering Coaching: 1. To think about the context, setting the scene, to take your time with setting up the workshop room, 2. To listen, 3. To know that a question can be more powerful than a statement and 4. To be kind to yourself.

6. Why, why, why. How, how, how.

Following that, the participants were introduced to a mutual Coaching Method called Why, why, why. How, how, how. This method aims to clarify and analyse the root of problems. The participants were divided in pairs (2 roles: a problem owner and a coach) and asked to formulate a certain concern. By asking two key questions (‘Why is this a problem for you?’ and ‘How can you fix the problem?’), the coach aims to empower the problem owner to liberate their own knowledge.

7. Deep listening

Right after, the participants were introduced to the concept of Deep Listening, a meditation approach to listening in which the participants are involved only with what is happening in the moment without trying to control or judge it. The participants are asked to witness only their thoughts and emotions while maintaining a focus on what they are hearing. After this short meditation session, the participants were divided in pairs once more and asked to share their experiences from the session. The speaker can steer how he/she wants to be coached, the listener can support in ways that suit the speaker. By using this method, each participant is more able to detect, analyse and solve issues & problems.

8. Aha!

After searching for deeper significance and ways of overcoming their dissatisfactions, participants were asked to report some of their Aha’s or insights on wall-charts. By using this method, the participants are more able to realize that behaviour change can start with the smallest effort, such as self-reflection

9. Synergy Method & Meeting

At the end of the day, the participants were introduced to Fleck’s Synergy Method, a tool for an effective and creative meeting. The participants were divided into two groups and each held a synergy meeting, to discuss topics that needed clarification. The method relies on the concept that a meeting agenda is put together dynamically by participants, all having an opportunity to raise topics and assign time to their own topics

DAY 2 – 20 February

Morning session

On the morning of the second day, the participants were asked to each reflect on day 1 of the workshop using the throw the ball technique. Following that, an agenda of the day was put together, using the Synergy Method.

The first topic of the day was “What does the world need?”. The participants were asked to visualize an image of the Earth as seen from outer space and to ask themselves “What does our planet need?”. The answers to this question are reported below.

Afternoon session

Following this interesting discussion, the participants discussed several other questions such as: What are you doing right now?, What would you like to do?, Is there a ‘we’? and accordingly “Is there a way we can work together?”.

Workshop evaluation

A week after the workshop an online survey was send to all participants. All 10 participants completed the evaluation form. The results of this evaluation are shown below.

1. Contacts - Did you meet any people with whom you expect to continue to exchange experience?

2. Organization and facilities - I found the overall organization (administration, logistics etc.) and facilities:


- Due to the background noise, participants had to speak up.

- I think a participation handout with some tips, note taking places and diagrams would aid in participant retention- and a good way to advertise. ;-)

- More people, maybe?

3. Outcomes - This compressed one day workshop was intended to give a taste of the L4C method, for possible deeper future engagement. Was it successful from your point of view?


- It was very inspirational and a taste for more!

- I think practice makes perfect but still I believe it wasn't quite enough to get a very good grasp of the techniques. (but I am bias as I normally never think one day training are enough for skill building unless they are quite intensive.

- It's a little hard to say considering this was my first contact with L4C.

- At the same time would still like to know more how this is used to change behavior?

- Yes- the workshop helped give a foundational understanding of behavioral change and provided practical examples for implementation.

4. Aha's! - Did you have any new insights?

5. Facilitation - opinion about the way the workshop was facilitated.

100% of the participants felt invited & included. 70% thought the workshop was informative and 80% felt it was supportive. 20% of the participants found the workshop to be excellent, while 10% felt it was unusual. In addition, 40% found there were some good role models.

Usefulness of methods: 1. Throw the ball - Do you expect to use this method in the future?

2. NGT (dissatisfactions) - Do you expect to use this method in the future?

3. YYY - Do you expect to use this method in the future?

4. Deep Listening - Do you expect to use this method in the future?

5. Synergy meeting - Do you expect to use this method in the future?

Models & theories: 1. What is change? Dissatisfaction & hope - Did you find this

Models & theories: 2. Empowerment spiral - Did you find this

Models & theories: 3. Four principles for Empowering Coaching - Did you find this

From this evaluation we can conclude that the overall results are encouraging. Several tools and models have been useful for a number of participants. In particular, Deep Listening and Fleck's Synergy method were very popular, together with the nominal Group Technique (NGT) for fast prioritization.

In addition, the number of insights is also encouraging and expresses that the workshop indeed supports new insights. The evaluation shows that 90% of the participants had new insights from which 40% had 'lots' of them.

All illustrations by Vahram Muradyan.

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