A few months back I volunteered in a consultative group working on a communications project for my local alpine resort. Tensions were high in town between those looking to increase development and those wary of development or the types of development taking place. This seems to be a common conversation across the region I live.
I participated on the premise that the project was aimed to improve communications. It also took a complexity approach, something I am keen to learn more about.
While the experience was indeed interesting, success is questionable.
Why? In a nutshell, despite the interesting approach for solving complex challenges, there was a huge lack of trust on all fronts. Getting information and data was difficult as people didn’t feel comfortable talking. There was uncertainty regarding how stories would be used. Given the small size of the town, anonymity was not acheived (though attempts were made).
My final thoughts are that perhaps ‘narrative capture’ and ‘sense making’ (concepts promoted by Snowden) were too much for our small rural community. I wonder if there is a ‘readiness’ index that can be applied before embarking down new pathways that have potential to backfire?