On the benefits of strange participants

Simon Hearn comments quite rightly that difficult participants can sometimes be very helpful for the whole group. That reminds me of a group of government and NGO staff that I once led through drawing a common Net-Map of their governance impacts.

There was one guy who had a knack for misunderstanding everything and being very vocal about his views of the governance network. He was enthusiastic about the whole process and didn’t seem to mind that his comments basically only led the rest of the group to explain in detail why he was mistaken. This happened in a very friendly way and helped the whole group to be very clear about the concepts they used and what they meant with the different links.

I believe there are two lessons in this:

1. Sometimes the thing you perceive as distraction is actually beneficial for the whole process.

2. Trust in your participants: Encourage them as a group to take as much responsibility of the process and outcome as possible.

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