Many years ago a person told me they were supporting me.
At the time that was the last thing it felt like they were doing for me, but they insisted they were.
Then another wiser person taught me this truth.
If YOU don't feel supported then YOU are not being supported.
I've carried this wisdom with me ever since and it cuts through some layers of icing when you use it as the lens to look at Inclusion, Support, and Engagement (I.S.E).
Because all three actions are just so often slathered on like icing on a tray bake, aren't they.
We are, you are, we have, you have been.
Decisions made months before and published out to the people like a recipe written for them.
On and on with the we + you calculation like it's self-mixing.
No. It's not when WHO you say you are doing it for doesn't FEEL it. Is it!
A great example landed in my life last week.
I've been a thorn in the side of a state entity on the regionally controlled weeds their asset hosts in my area and the slow fuse they have on allocating timely responses to control requests.
The lack of collaboration they show with the local community, weed experts, and other agency-led weed programs.
For seven years I have been feeding them information to help them do it better in my local area.
I am firmly in the expert stakeholder space on weeds and local collaboration across tenure.
One of the very few making this effort.
I received an email from them saying "X is currently developing a Weed Management Strategy, which we are very excited about ...
"I will keep you across the WMS as it is developed".
If it was I.S.E. it would have invited me to the planning phase rather than telling me it was already in train, being developed with no offer to participate.
There is a huge problem when organisations don't invest in systems to enable people to actively connect.
That don't enable people who live in the places where the decisions and plans will come to ground to listen to the feedback and feed it back to management fearlessly.
That don't enable management to act on the feedback, even if they don't like it.
That don't invest in fostering and encouraging multiple stakeholder collaboration from the start.
Until organisations invest in the processes that stop I.S.E. being reported on as a number and as the conclusion on a line, people will keep feeling and being left out.
We need more encouragement for what makes I.S.E. a circular economy of give, grow, keep giving, keep growing, keep going and feeding the circle of respectful and authentic shared progress.
- Lisette Mill is Network Facilitator, Basalt to Bay Landcare Network Inc in western Victoria.
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