The Client is the Expert: CVARR

I recently met with Central Virginia Addiction, and Recovery Resources Coalition (CVARR) in Lynchburg, VA with the primary objective of merging three separate coalitions/groups into one. They had realized the benefit of creating an umbrella of resources for all the coalitions in the area.  

Wonderful.  But, they were facing many of the same issues that other organizations face:  bureaucracy, the thought process of agencies, lack of understanding sustainability, and braiding funding and resources to work together.  And the task of the day was huge.  These three entities needed to walk out of our workshop as one cohesive, functioning coalition.  

The first order of the day is to clear up the most common client misconceptions.  I am not here to give them all the answers.  The leadership of any one group is not there to define the process. No one, not even me, was there to dictate anything.  

Instead, we would be working our way through a series of consensus-building steps to imagine the region’s future (a new vision);  discuss potential barriers/blocks to achieving the vision (identify underlying contradictions) for their community (a strategic plan); identifying the strategies to implement that will deal with the barriers/blocks(strategic directions), and map out what needs to happen over the next 30 days and 6, 9, and 12 months (Focused Implementation – Calendaring).  A process that is rich with collaboration and demands all in participation.  

Central Virginia Addiction, and Recovery Resources Coalition

This process is, in all honesty, the same for most of my clients.  In fact, it’s why I was there.  The referral a previous client had given CVARR was “you will love her energy and process she uses makes things fun and easy to understand.”  What I love about this approach to problem-solving is that while the process is the same, the outcome is always different.  

How does that work? The group drives the substance.  As a facilitator, I understand that they needed to get to their end goal.  To get them there I ask the right questions, bringing confidence and the process to overcome barrier(s).  I rely on proven processes and practices that I have developed over the years.  But each group makes the outcome their own. every. single. time.

"I can’t believe what we did"

So how did it go for CVARR?  This participant quote says it all.  “I can’t believe what we did.”  And she was right, they did it.  Creating that sense of ownership is the mark of success. When I left on the final day, everyone was a part of the group. It looks like the goal was implemented based on Facebook posting, media that has been displayed, and the progress that has been discussed, CVARR’s specific, measurable, first-year accomplishments of 1) a created shared communication plan; 2) a developed workplan to improve unity & create a cohesive identity for CVARR; and, 3) increased community involvement is evident.