International Transition Healthcheck – Experimenting by Doing
By Yaz Brien 10th December 2019
In March 2019 Transition Network ran its first International Transition Healthcheck Month as a pilot.
The healthcheck was designed to help Transition groups:
- Reflect on how the group is doing, sparking conversations about what’s working well and could be strengthened and what isn’t working and needs to change;
- Celebrate strengths and successes … and failures, as they are also great learning experiences;
- Identify areas which might need more work, skills, or resources;
- Clarify appropriate next steps – which might include agreeing to do less.
We organised the International Transition Healthcheck Month for two reasons. First, to promote the healthcheck itself, as we know from research and experience that the process can be really beneficial to Transition groups. Secondly, through collecting, collating and sharing information about healthcheck scores we hoped to begin a collaborative and transparent self-assessment of the health of the Transition movement. We think it’s helpful to make more visible the patterns of capacity and challenge across our international movement, so we can work out together how we might respond.
In order to make this process as accessible as possible we translated the health check into 15 languages: Croatian, Chinese, Russian, Swedish, Slovenian, Romanian, Dutch, Italian, Hungarian, Portuguese, French, Spanish, Danish, German and Japanese. Deborah Rim Moiso coordinated this complex task and we really appreciate her hard work, and that of all the translators. The translation process was supported by the great guide for translation and glossary that Deborah had also produced, to make translation easier and more accessible.
We also created a website https://transitioninitiative.org to host the healthchecks and to collect group’s responses. The principle behind this was that all scores would go into a Central Data Store owned by the Transition Movement, in partnership with Transition Hubs. This would enable Hubs to see the scores in their region whilst also providing data on the whole movement, which could then be used to develop resources and support. This continues to be an ongoing process with many Hubs positively supporting this development.
To communicate about the month as widely as possible we worked with Transition Hubs in different regions and wrote blog posts introducing and explaining the process. Transition Brazil even produced a great short promotional video.
So how successful was this experiment:
The headline figures are:
- 1973 people from 81 countries accessed the new website.
- 112 healthchecks were downloaded by Transition Groups.
- 19 groups entered their scores into the database.
As with any pilot, we did not know what to expect when we embarked on this process. We would have liked to have had many more scores inputted, but we recognise that groups are usually very busy and that the healthcheck does take time to complete. We really hope that the groups who downloaded the healthcheck were able to use it in some way, as we know it can be a very beneficial process for a group to undertake together.
From the data that was inputted we can see that groups were scoring highly (over 4.5 out of 5) in the following areas:
- Some people involved in our group have lived in this place for many years
- Our group has registered on TN website or national hub
- At least one person in our group has more in depth knowledge of Transition through attending training or reading books or websites.
- We have made contact with our local government
- Our group gets things done
- We make an effort to do things in partnership with other groups or organisations.
And at the other end of the scale groups were scoring themselves as less than 3 out of 5 in the following:
- We have established a monitoring system to track and assess how well we are doing, and use learning to adapt our strategy
- The projects and the enterprises that we generate create and create livelihoods for local people
- We have explored and understand how to include and work with diverse visions
- We attend conferences or events (or online webinars or trainings) put on by our regional or national hub or Transition Network.
- When we do something that other groups can learn from we share our learning
- We spend time listening to what’s important for different people in our community
- We have used Open Space and / or similar processes to invite ideas and involvement of local people
- We have created support structures for ourselves and for others involved in Transition (one to one or group)
- We have an agreed code of conduct (working principles or ways of working)
Of course, this data comes from a small pool of responses so cannot be generalised in any way. But it does show how, with greater engagement and more scores uploaded, the healthcheck could help Transition Network and Transition Hubs to identify areas that would benefit from more support or resources.
For example, from the responses we received we could signpost groups to the 7 essential ingredients where we have guides on monitoring and evaluation, creating visions, how to run open space and decision making. These are resources that already exist, but with more data Transition Hubs could begin to think strategically about new developments that could support groups in their regions.
As is the case with any pilot, you often have more questions at the end than you had at the start, and this is part of a healthy process of development.
Some questions that we are considering are:
- If 112 people downloaded the healthcheck, why did only 12 enter their scores?
- Is it a good idea to have a healthcheck month, or should it be an all year round process?
- Is the healthcheck too long and complicated for groups, and would it be better broken down into smaller sections?
- For what reasons did groups do the healthcheck?
- Are we promoting it in the right way?
If you have any thoughts on these questions, or other feedback on International Transition Healthcheck Month, please let us know in the comments section.