This month, we’ve asked some people who’ve used the Transition Animal (an exercise that’s part of the Transition Health Check) for their thoughts on how it worked for them. Today we hear from Chrissie Godfrey, until recently part of Transition Taunton, for her experience:
“In a Transition group, it is really easy to end up being a bit short-sighted, particularly when there is a lot going on, and you can wonder why some bits of what you do might be creaking, but not really understand why. Enter the ‘animal’ – a really good tool that can support a Transition group in stepping out of the day to day busyness for a good long reflect together. The ‘animal’ helps you climb into a solar-powered helicopter (made from recycled washing machines of course) and get an overview of all the dimensions of what a group does, all in one go. It shows how you need to look after all of them for any single bit to work well.
So, a group might be really successful at doing projects, but feel overworked and tired. Spending some quality time with the animal might show that they need to do more fun stuff, or take more time to celebrate, or find new ways to spread the workload – or simply to do less.
Maybe a theme group, such as transport or energy, is meeting regularly but not feeling they are getting anywhere. A conversation using the ‘animal’ might show that they have lost sight of the long term vision for what it is they want to achieve, and with it, some of their passion and energy too. Maybe this insight inspires them to hold a new Visioning event of some kind. Or maybe they see that they need to build more, or different networks in order to have the influence they want to have, and can then take action on that insight.
And, of course, the ‘animal’ can be very comforting, and good at giving cause for celebrations! It is a fantastic way of seeing where you are doing things well, shining a light on particular strengths and generally helping a group feel great about itself.
Having said this, there may be blind spots in a group which even the ‘animal’ can’t surface. Then it really helps to have someone from outside to support the group to play with the ‘animal’, to notice what people may be avoiding saying, or to ask questions the group might not think to ask itself. As a facilitator, I am bound to think that is a good idea, but it can make a huge difference, particularly in terms of offering a “holding” presence if people need to say things that might seem difficult to say or hear.
I had originally thought that the ‘animal’ is most useful for a group that has been going for some time and for whom a stock-take is going to be a good idea. But it also gives a blueprint for newer groups to think about, to help them to love and care for all the different bits of their group’s ‘animal’ right from the start. Lucky them, I say! Get your hands on it right away!