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News & Features - May 2013

NGO Consultant Profile - ChangeAware

Wednesday 8th May 2013

Vicky CosstickChangeAware

My primary focus for the past 13 years has been to facilitate change, learning and understanding of complex problems with individuals, groups or teams, and organisations as a coach, facilitator or consultant. Virtually all my clients have been from the voluntary sector, most of them international NGOs of all sizes, and I prefer to build long-term partnerships with clients.

I have applied excellent writing, thinking and facilitation skills to consultancies and facilitation across all technical areas of international development in the UK and East Africa, including advocacy, HIV, gender, organic farming, and child protection and participation. Tools and approaches I use are always suggested in response to the specific needs and context of the group or client and include appreciative enquiry, mapping and other visual techniques, a wide range of participatory and reflective small and large group processes, advanced listening skills, gestalt, theories of change, strategy development, communities of practice, peer and action learning, the power cube, and narrative approaches.

The work always begins by clarifying desired results and outcomes of an assignment or contract, and I do not often respond to pre-designed ToRs or agendas. I prefer, and believe it is most effective to be involved from the earliest stages. I understand how groups, teams, complex networks and organisational systems function – or can get blocked. My work to design and facilitate a process that will deliver agreed outcomes is based on several core principles and practices:

Change = learning = development: This sector is trying to achieve change, specifically to transform poverty, inequality and injustice. My passion is to work with people and groups to help them understand better the complex dynamics of development, change and learning, and understand better how to design and deliver strategies for sustainable change.

Systems thinking: I believe that the most helpful lens for viewing, understanding and acting in complex situations is a systems perspective. This means identifying and mapping the many factors at play in delivering results, and becoming clearer about how to intervene effectively in these complex systems and networks.

Complexity theory: My paradigm for the past 15 years has been complexity theory, because this approach is the most insightful when it comes to understanding how genuine change happens. It is increasingly recognised in the humanitarian and development sectors as the following links for Randolph Kent at Humanitarian Futures and Harry Jones at the Overseas Development Institute confirm.

Listening and identifying the right questions: I believe change in individuals, groups and organisations can be facilitated through a range of listening processes and by choosing the right questions to explore in conversations.

My first degree was in Sociology, and I have a Masters in Change Agent Skills and Strategies, as well as a post-graduate certificate in Conflict Resolution; I am a trained mediator. I am always willing to have exploratory conversations with potential clients about the challenges they are facing. On my website you will find further information, and examples of successful assignments.

For further information, please visit my website

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