How can NGOs fight against corruption?
Monday, Wednesday, 8, 10 October 2001
The sessions were well-attended, with lively participation from many delegates. Some people attended because they wanted to hear other delegates' views and experiences in answer to the title question. Others attended because they wished to learn and experience creative approaches to thinking about corruption, and to try to generate fresh ideas by "thinking differently". The morning's group (which was large) agreed, after some initial activities, introductions and discussion, to split into two sub-groups.
One group, following a standard format of unchaired group discussion, exchanged opinions, stories and advice. They used dialectic rhetoric and analysis to arrive at some broad conclusions, which were recorded in summary (although much content was lost, since there was no independent recorder to note what was said during the free-flowing debate).
Summary of discussion group:
One can see the world as divided into "poor countries" and "rich countries", each of which category has its own characteristic types of corruption (some of these were listed), different causes as well as different expressions of corruption. These different types of corruption call for NGOs (and others) to fight corruption in correspondingly different ways. However, what is common to both rich and poor countries is that they are (or should be) subject to the rule of law.
The other group followed an approach, which encouraged them to spend more time trying to explore the nature of the issue. This was done in ways that encouraged delegates to think in ways not usual at this kind of conference.
Problem exploration can be time-consuming, but can ultimately save time by (e. g.) checking that the right problem is being addressed, analyzing and identifying sub-issues, discovering and surfacing the different perceptions, understandings, assumptions, experiences, values, etc. that group members have about the topic, gaining commitment through active participation. The group explored the issue partly by discussion (not recorded), partly by drawing. Drawing was used as a technique in order to "tap into" a mental mode different from the critical verbalization that is at this conference. Delegates individually drew their own non-verbal representations of the issue of "NGOs fighting corruption" on large sheets of paper.
They then showed their drawings to other members of the group, who commented (imaginatively responding with their own perceived analysis of the drawing, without knowing what the "drawer" intended the drawing to show). Several of the drawers found these "naive" interpretations illuminating, since they called attention to neglected aspects of the issue and helped to make explicit how individuals perceived the problem. Everyone's drawing was different - as might be expected for such a complex topic, which evokes strong reactions and has many manifestations.
Following gap discussion of the drawings, the initial problem statement was redefined; it now focused on one aspect of the issue (an aspect highlighted by one person's drawing). The new problem was stated as: "How can we alleviate the fear felt by NGOs fighting corruption?"
This was the new subject for a classical brainstorming session (in 2 sub-groups, each using one of the drawings generated earlier to prompt ideas). Many solution ideas were generated, although unrecorded discussion at times were allowed to intervene in the brainstorming.
In the afternoon, similar techniques were used, and several delegates commented on how valuable a tool drawing was for allowing expression, comparing perceptions, checking and aiding shared understanding, exploring the issue and gaining involvement.
Variants on standard brainstorming were also used; particularly enjoyed were "superheroes". In this technique, brainstorming takes place as usual, but each participant assumes the temporary identity of a chosen "hero-figure". They then suggest ideas "in character" - this liberates brainstormers from their usual critical inhibitions, allowing a greater range and quantity of ideas to be generated.
Since time was limited, the group could then do little more than "vote" for preferred ideas from the long list generated. The ideas selected would later be examined, adapted and developed into feasible action plans. In one group, it was decided to try "force-fitting" three apparently unrelated ideas to the topic of NGOs fighting corruption. The words "strong", "knowledge" and "arrogant" were creatively discussed. This led to useful "connections", such as the link between strength and knowledge, which in turn led to the recognition that NGOs could become stronger by making better use of knowledge (e.g. sharing it more effectively, collecting, recording, organizing + managing it). Linking to the word "arrogant", though a surprising concept, led to insights and ideas concerning whether NGOs would benefit from growing in confidence and assertiveness (i.e. the positive side of "arrogance"), and being prepared to embrace a "big vision'" - since fighting corruption is inevitably ambitious anyway, and so may need some kind of "constructive arrogance".
Delegates attended from a great range of countries, most (though not all) working in some kind of NGO. Positive feedback showed that participants valued exposure to new techniques for exploring the topic and generating ideas, and that this attention to creative process was worthwhile. It led to some new ideas arising during the session, but - more importantly - also suggested ways of working to generate ideas after the conference ends.
FLIPCHART PRESENTATION OF THE WORKSHOP
Knowledge is power
NGOs should co-operate in sharing knowledge to build strength and have a BIG vision
"Constructive arrogance" = assertiveness, courage
What's the connection between:
STRONG, KNOWLEDGE, ARROGANT
and how can we use these ideas for NGOs to fight corruption?
We used drawing and brainstorming and different ways of thinking, and arrived at new insights and new ideas
|Different types of corruption|
|Need different types of solution - but all need the rule of law|
How to remove fear which block NGOs from fighting corruption?
NGOs should be interconnected with their own communities which should bring together a coalition of peers + international coalitions.
Knowledge is power
Use money to become independent
Be accountable to own communities
Nobel prize for anti-corruption
Work with the media - don't become victims
Start with the family
Work with women
Recognize that women are brave
Seek alliance with socially disadvantaged groups