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Step 5 - Facilitating systemic change

Facilitators need to be continually aware that successful facilitation requires a ‘learning-by-doing’ approach, and need to actively invest time and resources into monitoring and reflection as they go. This involves trying things out, monitoring their outcomes, using formal indicators as well as informal observations, and then building on the successes and learning from failures.

Facilitators need to actively monitor how effective the intervention activities are at delivering the expected outcomes, which is dealt with in detail in Step 6. They also need to check how the market actors are responding to the interventions and if there are signs that the market actors will continue implementing change after the facilitation has ended. Experience has shown that the following recommendations are effective in facilitating systemic change within an energy market system.

  • Valuing Small Outcomes +

    Time: Facilitating the development of any market system is a process that takes time – often longer than stakeholders expect or desire! Market actors need to feel confident they can manage the potential risks of changing their behavior when they work with other actors as they implement the planned activities. This typically only takes place when the attitudes, relationships and levels of trust between the market actors improve, which again takes time. Although these characteristics can be difficult to measure and keep track of they’re essential if more tangible and sustainable outcomes are to be reached, such as the new and more efficient business practices of small energy businesses.

    Trust: As the facilitation process progresses facilitators need to nurture these more intangible attitudes of market actors towards each other, including building the levels of trust and strengthening the relationships between the actors. Facilitators can keep trying to promote the more tangible innovations, including new business models or marketing strategies, but these are often contingent on healthy relationships between the actors. The facilitators also need to help the actor’s value and celebrate any benefits arising from their increased cooperation and calculated risk taking even when the benefits may seem small. Experience has shown that building an appreciation amongst the actors of even small outcomes can help catalyse trust, leading to bigger and more tangible outcomes.

    Action: As facilitators continue to support the market actors during the planning and implementation stage they can use the template in Annex 7, ideally updating it on a monthly basis. This can help them keep track of all the achievements of the roadmap process, even the seemingly small ones. These can then be regularly communicated back to the market actors to energise them about the success of the process.

  • Keeping Track of Interest Groups +

    Interest groups often bring together small numbers of market actors to work together to address specific marker barriers that impact them, through undertaking tangible activities in a coordinated approach. Facilitators can use a Relationship Matrix to track the changing relationships and actions of these interest groups against a baseline to measure how they’re evolving. Experience has shown that when used effectively by a facilitator, this matrix can help encourage and catalyse positive changes in the attitudes and trust between the market actors.

    Facilitators can start by reviewing the market map and intervention action plans, which can act as a baseline, to allow the market actors to discuss their progress and make any further changes and amendments that are required, refocusing their set of priorities.

    Note: This exercise can be useful when reviewing periods of rapid progress as well as periods of inertia. During busy period, such a review helps encourages market actors through their sense of achievement.

    Reviews during periods of little change is much more difficult, but can provide an opportunity to try and understand why this has been the case, and to make adjustments to the activities if required, hopefully motivating the market actors to keep going.

    Frequency: It is important to try and review and revise the intervention actions plans with the market actors at least once a year. More frequent reviews can be beneficial, with interest groups meeting on a monthly or 3-monthly basis if required.

    Flexibility: However, it is also important to remember that these tools are only support tools for facilitating attitudinal and relationship change. They are not an output in themselves and should not be followed blindly, particularly if the market actors don’t understand or appreciate them. The facilitators need to focus on providing responsive facilitation to support the market actors to implement the intervention activities they’ve developed themselves, or adapt them as required to overcome the market system barriers they face.

  • Be Patient +

    Patience: Facilitators also need to support the market actors to be patient as tangible outcomes of the roadmap often lag behind the facilitated activities. They sometimes only appear after tipping points have been reached, following long periods of successful facilitation. Changes in attitudes and relationships of market actors – and in turn business practices – often only occur after extended periods of interaction with each other, but when they do, they can progress suddenly and accelerate quickly.

    Tipping Points: It is important for facilitators to be aware of these lags and tipping points so they can support market actors to be patient when progress is slow and not give up. They also need to be aware when the attitudes between the market actors are improving so they can reduce the intensiveness of their facilitation as they start planning their eventual exit from the system, as summarised in Figure 1.

    Figure 1: Lagging Outcomes and Facilitation Tipping Points

  • Monitor Unexpected Signals +

    The roadmap process depends on using up-to-date information on how the market actors are behaving and interventions are progressing, which requires regular and accurate monitoring. However, important insights about the incentives, attitudes, and relationships of market actors are inherently difficult to capture through formal measurement. It is therefore important to draw on the experiences and observations of the facilitators on how well the market actors are responding to each other and the implemented activities.

    As these signals are often difficult to anticipate field facilitators need to be well-informed about the logic of the intervention they’re facilitating so they can receptive to positive or negative signals as they emerge. It is important for facilitators to regularly meet together, ideally informally, so they can share their reflections, including identifying emerging patterns of behavior of the market actors that can be used for decision-making during future facilitation and intervention design.

    Note: Although such informal information is very useful, it is often subjective, and should ideally be checked with information from formal monitoring, particularly when important decisions are being made.
  • Reviewing the Intervention Logic +

    The intervention logic developed during the strategic planning in Step 2 of the roadmap can provide a helpful framework for monitoring the intervention action plans. It should be used to check whether the facilitated activities have led to the expected outcomes, and if not why not. This can help make changes to the facilitation approach with the facilitation team, including field staff. Figure 2 highlights the inherent temporary role of the facilitator within the roadmap process - to try and catalyse changes in the market system through supporting the market actors to act themselves.

    Figure 2 : Facilitation - Planning your exit before you enter

    At the beginning of the roadmap process, the facilitators need to take a lead in attracting markets actors to come together. At every opportunity the facilitator needs to focus on building the trust between the market actors towards greater collaboration and experimentation. As trust builds and new business models are tested and adopted, the process of change needs to be increasingly led by the market actors themselves. The facilitator needs to gradually wind down the intensiveness of their support, gradually focusing more on facilitating effective communication through the selected energy system, encouraging the actors to copy and adopt new more inclusive approaches, in particular the marginalised and gender equality.

  • Supporting Constructive Learning +

    Failure: As energy systems are complex, and facilitating the actors to develop their market themselves is not straightforward, mistakes, false starts and even failure are inevitable parts of the roadmap process. Often things don’t go the way the facilitators expect or want, but however disappointing, these failures offer valuable lessons. Market facilitators often report that in the long-run, outcomes and impacts tend to be greater where failures occurred early in the process and their strategies were improved as a result.

    Honesty: It is therefore important that facilitation teams are able to discuss and reflect upon the success or failure of their activities openly and honestly from the very start. In this way, future decisions and actions can be made based on the lessons that come out of them. Facilitators need to think about how they can nurture a working environment for their team that encourages honest and open critical reflection.

  • Making Actions More Effective +

    The roadmap uses a learning approach that needs to continually assess its effectiveness so it can actively adjust and improve its facilitated intervention activities. Time and resources need to be allocated for the facilitation team to regular meet to review monitoring information, discuss their experiences and observations about how the process is going, learn from these observations and plan ahead. The facilitation team can use the template in Annex 8 to assess the various important aspects of their facilitation, which can then be adjusted accordingly. The following recommendations can be very useful for facilitators as part of this process:

    • Experience has shown that regular meetings are important to continually monitor the facilitation process and make regular changes based on evidence, either formal or informal
    • These meetings should be used to share experiences and observations that have been made in the field as some may be important signals
    • Meetings can be used to review the intervention logic against experiences in practice. Placing a graphical representation of the intervention logic or results chain on the wall can help the team focus their discussions on whether their experiences in the field match what was envisaged when the intervention was designed
    • Facilitators always need to keep sustainability, and their eventual exit from the selected energy system in mind, constantly checking whether the market actors are taking leadership over the roadmap processes as planned
    • The facilitation team needs to promote an environment of discussing and learning from mistakes and failure
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