Thursday, September 15, 2016

Is That REALLY the Issue???

Since you are thinking about addressing issues in your school, community, business or organization, let me save you some time, money and grief…NEVER dare to identify an “issue” without first engaging the very people you hope to change!  Our motto is:  When a group of people is organized, empowered and mobilized with an authentic voice and message, they can become a formidable influence capable of impacting a culture of success”.

In Phase I of “The Concierge Approach”, you MUST identify and involve key stakeholders.  Some necessary participants may include: students, faculty, program leaders, coaches, parents, law enforcement, mental health professionals, business leaders, governmental authorities, coalition members, funders, just to name a few.

1.      You might learn that most of the people are concerned about a different issue

2.      There might be underlying causes or precursors to the issue

3.      The very people you  hoped would participate may not want to address the issue you have identified

4.      You could alienate the target audience because they may think you don’t care about their opinions

5.      Etc., Etc., Etc.,

One example of too much assuming and too little listening:

School leadership and community leaders thought the abuse of prescription drugs at the local high school was a huge problem and data showed that that use was a growing problem.  However, the students themselves identified that the underlying cause was STRESS.  We built a campaign around the cause, which in turn addressed the problem.  The students themselves came up with strategies.  They advocated for and got a “no homework day”.  They formed a stress reducing room where, during exams, they could go and listen to relaxing music on their breaks.  They also had funny movies streaming in the commons area during lunch period.  All of these strategies proved to affirm the concerns of the students and the students themselves reported positive results.

So, what do you do?  We use two techniques at the very beginning of a project.  After identifying key stakeholders, we use focus group techniques which provide the opportunity for a group interview.  Focus groups create an interactive medium where participants feel validated and listened to.  We then hold what we call “Key Informant Interviews” which provides the opportunity to learn from individuals who possess historical, political and cultural perspectives that can prove to be invaluable to the project.  The inclusions of key informants may generate allies and champions to the cause and these allies usually wield various levels of influence.

Questions?  Email me at

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