JSMT FSU Fellowship programme: workshop and individual tutorial programme
The Aims of the Fellowship are as follows:
- To build a network of change agents promoting reform in the legal, justice and related areas of Fellowship countries
- To enable Fellows to reflect on and improve their own leadership skills and knowledge with particular reference to the Rule of Law
- To enable Fellows to reflect on and improve their own policy delivery skills and knowledge
- To enable Fellows to enhance and develop their action plan ideas
- To build a strong and sustainable cohort identity
- To enhance Fellows’ knowledge and understanding of democratic political practice, the complexities of a mature political market and a changing democratic polity
- To enhance Fellows communication and presentation skills
If we succeed in meeting these aims then the outcomes we can claim and need to try and measure are:
- A cohort of Fellows with improved skills in leadership and better knowledge of UK best practice in policy delivery, the practice of democratic governance, the rule of law and human rights
- A cohort of Fellows with coherent, achievable, and well-presented action plan ideas
- A high proportion of Fellows’ Action Plans hitting benchmarks of implementation over the first year
- Individual Fellows who have reflected on and improved their own leadership skills
- Fellows who are ready and willing to contribute and enhance the development of the JSMT Leadership Network
In considering the programme, there are key pedagogic principles that underpin the way we do things currently:
- Professionals learn better by doing
Experiential learning has proven to be the most effective way of engaging professionals in new material because it allows them to root their learning in their experience and in their working lives. Our programmes are therefore always focussed around an individual action plan that connects the Fellowship experience with their working lives and allows them to explore themes related to this action plan in their workshops, individual meetings and attachments. This is based on Learning theory but also on years of feedback from Fellows on the kind of programme that works for them.
- Content should be useful
Participants must see the relevance to their professional development of the material and speakers they are engaging with if they are to actually use the experience to change their approach to problems or be motivated to take on the mantle of change agents. A model session in this respect was Judith Robertson (Head of Oxfam in Scotland) who explored a big theme (global warming) through practical lenses of building a campaigning coalition of NGOs. If the content of the programme is too academic, abstract or theoretical they will not engage with the learning experience. If the topics are generalised current affairs discussions then there will be no lasting impact on their professional development. This does not mean that they will not enjoy the Fellowship or that they will not score the sessions highly, however it will mean that they will not engage in double loop learning – they will not think about new ways of achieving their objectives or rethink their overall strategic and tactical priorities. Moreover, the TED ex circuit (online and in-country lectures by the world’s leading thinkers that are available to download) and other media, mean that there is no shortage of access to general discussion and the academic conference circuit means that there is no shortage of academic conferences. If Fellows desire these kinds of engagement they can easily find them.
- The Team learns from each other
The formal delivery sessions of a programme are the beginning of a learning process and not the end. Learning occurs between participants, in networking events and in the follow-up that occurs after the event and through the alumni networks that are formed as much as it does from speakers and attachments. This process of engagement with each other does not happen by accident but is carefully built into the fabric of the Fellowship from the first time they meet via email or social media, through the first weekend of team building and at each step along the way to their final preparations for and presentation of their action plans.
- The different elements of the programme are reinforcing
The individual mentoring that takes place during the Fellowship program is focused on the fellows as leaders within their own organizations and their communities. It is also reflected on and through the evolution of the Fellows’ personal development and action plans. Fellows are focused on an area of policy or a project proposal that they want or have to implement on their return home. From the beginning of the Fellowship through to the final presentation they reflect on this project and how they can improve its design and achieve its delivery. Fellows diagnose their problems during a range of activities, each designed to reinforce the effect of what went before — individual tutorial sessions, facilitated group workshops, the attachment experience and the informal learning environment of the Fellowship cohort. They are also asking themselves what they are trying to accomplish, what stands in their way of achieving these objectives, what must they realistically work around and what can they confront through stakeholder analysis, power relationship analysis, by exploring new ways of thinking and communicating and through sessions with leading thinkers and politicians.
JSMT believes that change happens primarily through the commitment and leadership of a critical mass of individuals. Sustainable changes in society do not take place without a change in the mind set of key internal actors. Sustainable systemic change can therefore be enhanced by external actors working with individuals to achieve their own objectives in ways that embed globally recognised standards of good governance, human rights and the rule of law in their working practices and world view.
The use of Fellowships in this way is supported by writing around the twin theories of social change that are often know in short hand as “Complexity theory” and “Tipping Point theory”. They are also informed by Fifteen years practical experience in running Fellowships. This experience is recorded in feedback and assessment by Fellows of programmes and in the institutional memory of Trust staff and key stakeholders. This Fellowship methodology is influenced by learning theories centred on “Double Loop Learning” and “Experiential Learning”.
Change theories – it takes many small changes to create sustainable societal change and there is a certain point when many small changes reach a tipping point and the whole system changes.
Complexity theory suggest that change takes places when lots of small steps across a range of different fields takes place rather than when a major field changes at one go and in one way. A state emerging from authoritarianism will achieve long term reform when it changes across a wide range of fields and not just one field reforms. You will not liberalise an economy by simply changing the basis of property ownership if all other variables – state power, cultural traditions, institutional design, prevailing norms and values – are not also changed. Sustainable change only takes place when critical masses of people in key stakeholder groups adopt new ways of thinking and doing.
There are many competing theories of change but the complexity model seems to fit best with the experience of transition states. The barriers to change are therefore often attitudinal as well as politically structural. The other factor that needs to be considered, from a complexity theory perspective, is that democratic consolidation is not necessarily achievable all at once, in all aspects of the interactions between states and individuals. Progress might well be quicker in some sectors, for example local government, if there is a critical mass in leadership positions who have chosen the path of modernization because they see it as being in their long term interests culturally, economically and politically. This local sector might then continue to operate at a point some way ahead of the central polity in terms of transparency and accountability. This is also true in terms of sectors. There might well be a functioning market economy or a relatively free judiciary operating in what is otherwise an authoritarian system. There is much discussion in the literature of the possibility of spill over from a one functioning system into others. To achieve change across a sector or within an individual sector there needs to be a critical mass of change agents who are in leadership positions and therefore able to set the norms and values of the organizations or have policy and project ideas that, through their implementation, serve as magnets for others to be attracted to. The objective is to reach an institutional tipping point within the sector at which the agents of change and reform out-number the opponents of change, either in terms of a combination of numbers and seniority or merely in terms of the effectiveness of delivering policy outcomes.
The JSMT Fellowship pedagogic methodology grows out of two related theories of learning, which have been tested, adapted and improved over fifteen years and through over 300 completed individual Fellowships. The theories from which the design has grown can be summed up as Experiential Learning Theory (ELT) and Double Loop Learning (DLL).
Experiential Learning Theory (ELT) – people learn best by doing and/or by rooting their learning in their own experience and in the experience of their peers
There are two different kinds of experiential learning. The first involves focusing learning directly on a deliverable outcome or project rather than on the abstract absorption of information. The second type of experiential learning is achieved through reflection upon everyday experience. People learn in different ways depending on their personality, background, culture and current needs. JSMT’s experience has demonstrated that Fellows are usually concerned with concrete experience and, therefore tend to conform to what is sometimes called a Diverging learning style – tending to favour group work, listening and personalized feedback.
Double Loop Learning (DLL).
Double Loop Learning assumes that all actors, whether in business or politics, begin with mental maps of how to act. These mental maps are called theories-in-use: they are the theories that are implicit in what people do, our view of how the world really works. Theories in use influence the way actors both plan and implement projects and the way they then think about what they have done. Actors also describe what they are doing and why they are doing it. These descriptions are known as espoused theories: what actors would like others to think lies behind what they do.
The process of learning is about identifying errors and then developing the best means of correcting those errors. Many actors respond to failure by looking for another strategy that would work within the existing governing variables. They might look to past best practice and try to adapt that. They might try what they are already doing but try it for longer or more systematically. Underlying this way of responding is the idea that if only the right strategy can be found then the outcome can be achieved. This is single-loop learning.
The alternative response to is to bring into the equation of project design a critical scrutiny of what is assumed to be possible and impossible: this is double-loop learning. Such learning may then lead to a shift in the way in which strategies and consequences are framed or more often in a political context it might reveal that the constraints that were felt to exist, did not in fact exist if approached differently.
The overall aim of JSMT Fellowship programs is to achieve, through a program designed around ELT, a form of double-loop learning experience to enable Fellows to deliver the projects they wish to deliver and become better leaders in the future.
This appendix contains a mapping of the objectives of double loop learning onto the theory and method of ELT demonstrates the underlying logic for the structure and content of JSMT’s Fellowship Program looks something like this: