Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Social Contract

What is the glue that holds all our individual and collective actions especially given the uncertainty of the next person's possible responses in the present context?

Perhaps we proceed on the basis of a social contract to which we believe that we and those with whom we interact are both parties.

Restorative practices restore and strengthen the "social contracts" that underpin our interactions.
Problems arise and harm is done when these social contracts are broken intentionally or inadvertently.

However most social contracts are unconscious - they are just assumed and "understood".
The long term power of restorative practices in general, and circles in particular, is that they can strengthen our social contracts by making them more explicit.

This can also make the wider implications of our actions much clearer before we make our next serious mistakes."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Reviewing progress

The world has the idea that if we measure (and report) outcomes all else will follow. One of the flaws in this approach is that it ignores the everyday reality of those charged with achieving the said outcomes. But what is the alternative?

The following is based on a review process that we used almost universally at Riverside Primary School, albeit, at the end of last century. However this significantly post-dates much of the current thinking which tends to be a form of Management By Objectives (circa 1950).

Three simple questions
The proposed alternative it is a form of action learning based around three simple but insightful questions:
  • What's working? 
  • What's not? 
  • What else (might be possible, desirable, feasible, worth a try...)?

Not only is it quick, simple and meaningful, it leads to positive action. It is more likely to lead improvements than counter measures. It is naturally solution focused, rather than problem focused.

And it builds up the social contract around core purposes - the social contract is strengthened when people are consulted, heard, and responded to, and their contributions recognised.

This approach can be used individually and in groups (especially circles) for virtually any purpose.

And (used consistently) it results in continuous improvement (plan-do-study-act) and not simply episodic attempt to fix things. When it becomes part of the culture ("how we do things around here") people continually monitor how things are going gaining insights from their everyday experience./