Mission Statement and Objectives

Shared Action Learning provides a new platform to develop plans and strategies by pushing all involved parties into a learning environment. Within this context, our team believes that using SAL as the primary approach to working with the co-researcher group to effectively develop new communication platforms that are tailored specifically for the Langrug context. With this in mind, it is important to understand the sponsor’s and the community’s communication needs. From our interview with David Carolissen, a need for reporting project progress to outside stakeholders became apparent. Co-researchers have a strong relationship with the DIHS, but a clearer presentation of successes and issues would greatly help the DIHS in continuing its on-going support of Langrug. An equally important issue that has developed during the past year is co-researcher identity.  The challenging task given to the co-researchers can often be vague and different depending on who is asked. Working with the co-researchers to identify their vision regarding their job is key to improving their communication with others. What are their responsibilities? What is their vision? Answers to these questions will give both the co-researchers and us a better idea of what our role will be during our time together.

Once this identity is established, a better grasp of the community’s perspective on co-researcher projects and ideas is an important issue to be addressed. The community is the key stakeholder in the project, and it is important for most of Langrug to understand where their savings and future are being invested. Besides reporting back to them, the co-researchers also need to act as bridges, relaying information to the DIHS and other agencies obtained from community members.

As seen by these issues, their details are fairly unclear to us until our work begins in Langrug. We have developed objectives that act as general guides to the overall process we expect to be involved in with the co-researchers. Their particular order and details will be developed in cooperation upon our arrival in Langrug. We expect to develop the project along with the co-researchers by jointly determining which are the most important issues to address every week and report back to sponsors and other relevant parties regularly. This way, both communication and reporting strategies are developed specifically for the Langrug context, and hopefully these can be sustained for future endeavours. With this in mind, the team plans to develop a concrete strategy for the first week and produce a plan for each subsequent week with the input of the co-researcher team. Below, we present the project objectives we have developed based on the proposed approach to our project development. These however, are subject to change based on co-researcher feedback and needs.

  1. Jointly develop an activity that promotes a cooperative relationship between co-researchers and our team.
  2. Identify communication needs of co-researchers, as well as their expectations for improvement.
  3. Assess community perception of co-researchers
  4. Jointly identify main communication barriers between co-researchers and community.
  5. Assess potential tools and assets within Langrug to improve communications
  6. Jointly identify, analyse and map current communication networks involving Langrug
  7. Work with co-researchers to develop effective reporting strategies to regularly update relevant groups.
  8. Continuously foster team-building and internal communication development.

Mission and Objectives

Jointly develop an activity that promotes a cooperative relationship between co-researchers and our team.

This first objective has the intention of establishing a strong, productive relationship with the co-researchers as soon as possible once we begin work in Langrug. Past IQP teams in Langrug developed strong relationships with the co-researchers, but it took longer than what would be ideal for our team (Siemian, Shooshan, Sheppard, & Kenney, 2011). Our intention is to establish a good rapport during the first week by carefully planning and executing team building activities. These will also allow the group to develop trust and a process to develop communication plans for the following weeks. A detailed methodology for the first week is described in the “Week 1 Plan” section of this report.

Identify communication needs of co-researchers, as well as their expectations for improvement.

As part of the initial introduction process, we plan to familiarize ourselves with the work the role of a co-researcher. We will gain insight into their project work through the co-researchers’ own verbal reports. This serves a double purpose: first, to gain context of the upgrading process in Langrug, and second, to jointly identify where their reporting strategies could be improved.  Achieving this objective will give the group an idea of what to focus on in the following weeks.

In addition to learning about the co-researcher projects, this objective includes discussion about what being a co-researcher is. As explained previously, identifying what it means to be a co-researcher within Langrug will be crucial to developing plans for effective communications. For this, we might brainstorm along the co-researchers through drawings, or use photography and video to describe what the role of a co-researcher is. This will highlight their expectations and vision for their work, and show ways in which we might contribute to their projects.

Assess community perception of co-researchers

One aspect of the work we need to do with the co-researchers is develop effective reporting procedures. Another equally important need of Langrug is clear communication between the co-researchers and the community in general. This will permit future projects and initiatives to be tailored to Langrug’s needs. For this to be possible, the group will identify the common perception of the community regarding the co-researcher projects and the process achieved in Langrug so far. This will set a baseline for our work and gives a point from which new strategies can be developed. Questions such as “What improvement in Langrug is the most relevant?” and “Why are the co-researchers doing what they do?” can give the group an idea of what the community understands from the process going on and how their voice is taken into account.

Specifically, this will include discussion with relevant actors within the Langrug process such as Mr. Carolissen, Sizwe Mxobo from CORC, and community leaders. Additionally, door-to-door interviews can show the general perceptions of Langrug’s upgrading process. By comparing these perceptions with the view the co-researchers have of the process, we can understand the relationship between the two.

Jointly identify main communication barriers between co-researchers and community.

Once the community’s perception of the co-researchers is understood more deeply, the group can determine where the communication breakdown occurs. By identifying the problems at hand, effective strategies to counter these can be developed. Possible ways to address this objective include focus group meetings with people from the community and door-to-door interviews. By getting information from different parts of the settlement we can also determine how communication flows across the settlement. Additionally, contact with civic groups, churches and even local spaza shops can highlight areas where communication is transformed.  Past project experiences show that this transformation can be due to politics, personal interests and interpersonal relationships (Wakeman, 2012)

Assess potential tools and assets within Langrug to improve communications

Determining the barriers for communication within Langrug is not the only important task to do in this area. Determining the assets and tools that might help enhance communication flow within the settlement is a vital task, too. By determining both physical locations and groups that spread information around Langrug, we can gain knowledge to plan the best strategies for reporting project progress to the community and obtaining its feedback. From our background research, it is important to also understand the intentions of each group in spreading information. How do they alter the messages to their benefit? Do they have agendas to forward? What is their relationship with the rest of the community, the co-researchers and the government? All these questions can be explored by talking with different groups within Langrug and the community members in general. The experience gained through the Langrug enumeration report could be used to gain insight into where to focus our efforts.

Jointly identify, analyse and map current communication networks involving Langrug

Unknown Connections Between Actors

Once the barriers and the assets for effective communication in Langrug are identified, it is important for co-researchers and our team to connect all of the involved parties and understand where particular interactions are missing and where they can be used effectively.  With the co-researchers, influence diagrams and network maps can be developed. These will benefit the co-researchers by providing visual and clear insight into the important actors in the future of Langrug communications. These diagrams can also benefit the DIHS and other external entities by providing important context for future initiatives. A brainstorming process will most effectively achieve this objective. This way, all co-researchers can give their input to the mapping process.

Work with co-researchers to develop effective reporting strategies to regularly update relevant groups.

As a possible end-goal objective, the team would like to develop a sustainable and feasible reporting procedure. Reports would be directed two ways: to outside agencies such as the DIHS and CORC, and to the community itself. The approach to both can be very different, so it is important to identify ways to transmit the most essential information to both types of audiences in a feasible way. This will not be developed simply at the end of the project process, but ideally, reports will be developed weekly or bi-weekly and given to sponsors and relevant parties. Reporting could be developed verbally, visually and written to address the needs of all groups. This serves as a way to obtain feedback from other groups about the progress of the project, and to strengthen the reporting skills of the co-researchers and us.  Regular reporting can also help set the co-researchers in the habit of generating reports even when our work with them is done.

Continuously foster team-building and internal communication development.

Throughout this whole process, it is crucial for the co-researchers and us to maintain strong relationships. This means maintaining friendships, but also maintaining a productive team dynamic. For this, we plan on continuously building on the relationship we develop during the first week of work. Some strategies for this will be to share lunch and try to build as much conversation during that period as possible. We will also bring physical pictures from our families and events from our past.  Based on interviews with project teams that went to Langrug and Monwabisi Park, this is a great asset to develop a good relationship. Sports also bring a new situation in which the team can interact, so soccer is another possibility we might use to strengthen the relationship within the group.