On Modeling the Transition Healthcheck at TUS

Our Experience with Transition Network’s Healthcheck: A Tool For Assessing and Improving Transition Groups!

 

In early 2018, the small staff of Transition US chose to take advantage of a helpful tool in the vast toolkit of Transition resources: we took on the experiment of implementing and modeling the Transition Network’s Transition Healthcheck process by using the Healthcheck to assess the TUS National Hub.

 

As detailed in a recent Transition US webinar with Transition Network’s Mike Thomas (video here), the Healthcheck is a tool for checking up on a given Transition Initiative’s strengths and challenges in a variety of categories. While it is intended for evaluating local Transition groups, we chose to look at our national Transition effort as if it were its own initiative. (Its own incredibly large, highly populated and geographically immense local initiative!)

 

We underwent the Healthcheck process over the course of two months, as a part of our staff’s monthly “Big Picture ” meetings -- Zoom web conferences in which we get together specifically to step back from our quotidian responsibilities and daily to-do lists in order to connect more deeply with each other, ourselves, our higher visions, and our purpose in doing this work. We’ve cultivated this monthly ‘deep-dive’ space as a way of embodying deep inner resilience -- to make sure we remain connected to our essence and connected with each other in an increasingly tight-knit community of friends and colleagues. In such a busy world (and with so many tasks constantly drawing our attention), it can be a truly revolutionary act to slow down, take a deep breath, connect from the heart, and refer to the big picture.

We dedicated the bulk of two consecutive Big Picture meetings to TN’s Healthcheck. What follows is an account of our process, along with an invitation that you consider using this free tool as a way to assess your own Transition Initiative and gain insight into your team’s strengths and challenges. If nothing else, it is a great team bonding experience and a context for conversing about your initiative’s progress, problems and prospects for growth and improvement.

 

The Healthcheck (sample page image below, full pdf here) supports Transition organizers in examining indicators of success and struggle in 9 key areas: developing an initiating group, maintaining healthy groups, vision, community involvement, networks and partnership, reflect and celebrate, practical projects, inner transition, and being part of a movement. Each of these sections offers a series of statements (for example, “We have effective meetings with clear agenda, discussion and minutes”), to which participants respond on a scale of 1 to 5. After responding individually to the Healthcheck questionnaire, team members then take time to discuss their respective responses. The initial Healthcheck questionnaire took us each about 30 minutes to complete, and the group discussion took nearly three hours to complete, which we accomplished in two installments.

 

The first section of the Healthcheck, “Developing Your Initiating Group,” invites some basic input on the core team’s makeup. Here, we found common ground as a team, mostly sharing a solid understanding of the meaning of Transition and the need for this movement, and mostly aware


of opportunities and challenges facing our community.

 

In the “Healthy Groups” section, we were challenged to look hard at our own processes for decision-making and meetings, and found that we have some room for growth. Our individual responses to the prompts began to diverge from one another, and it provided us with a fertile context for comparing and contrasting our various experiences working together. For the several “Healthy Groups” questions, it occurred to me that the mere act of assessing group health requires some level of pausing from business-as-usual in order to do the meta-level work of developing a healthy group -- and I feel grateful and inspired to be a part of a team that dedicates time and resources to cultivating an ever-stronger community and an ever-more-effective group.

 

In the next section, we looked at our shared vision. For the first time, we began to see some consistently low scores emerge from the group. For example, in response to the statement that  “We have explored and understand how to include and work with diverse visions,” we realized we have some real room for improvement, becoming better at reaching “beyond the choir” and making Transition more accessible and compelling to people from all walks of life. As TUS Co-Director Don Hall put it, “In order to have a plausible Transition, it’s got to include everybody.”

 

The next section, “Community Involvement,” we looked together at a series of big questions about how we relate Transition messages to current national issues (including politically-charged issues), finding that, in the challenging political climate we currently face, we’d likely benefit from a deeper discussion about how to engage in current events and popular political concerns in a way that advances the cause of Transition and meaningfully addresses climate change and systemic inequality without alienating people of any particular political background. (If you have any thoughts or pointers about this, please let us know! Perhaps this can be the topic of a future National Network Call...?)

 

In a moment of celebration, we realized a consensus of high scores on the statement that “We know how to put on events that are enjoyable, inspiring, connecting and participative” -- just look at all the positive feedback we received from last summer’s Transition National Gathering in the Twin Cities! One of the great joys of the Healthcheck process was that, alongside seeing some of our imperfections and growth areas reflected back to us, we also found many opportunities for celebration of achievements and appreciation of one another. These, in and of themselves, can be important key practices in developing a successful group.

 

When we came back together for the second installment of discussing the Healthcheck, we found some divergence in our responses to the questions on “Networks and Partnerships,” noting that we’ve both come a long way and have a long way to go in service of developing a robust network of strategic partnerships and allies. It was instructive, leaning into these moments of disparate answers to the Healthcheck’s questions; we saw the diversity of opinion and perception that exists even within our small group, and we had a context for exploring and honoring these diverse viewpoints. What differences might be unearthed if your Transition group were to take on the project of performing the Healthcheck?

 

In the ensuing segments of the Healthcheck, “Reflect & Celebrate,” “Practical Projects,” “Inner Transition” and “Part of a Movement,” we continued to find interesting points of overlap and inconsistency, points of strength and points of possibility for improvement, in our self-assessment of our work in Transition. Without going into too much detail in what is already a pretty long article, I’ll sum up the experience by saying that, if you want to grow and improve, it may be helpful indeed to start by assessing where you’re currently at. Team members may not entirely agree on every point, but part of the beauty in working in groups is that different members bring unique gifts and perspectives.

 

Not every team member was completely sold on the Healthcheck in its current format: There is some level of redundancy (the 66+ questions might easily be reduced to a more manageable number, perhaps 50) and some of the questions could be phrased more clearly (or re-written from the Transition Network’s native


UK dialect into more familiar American English terms) -- but there was nevertheless a consensus among our team members that the process was valuable and it would be worthwhile for local Transition Initiatives to explore.

 

Our next step will be to average our respective scores and share in a deeper meta-analysis of which indicators have the lowest and highest collective scores to see where our greatest room for growth is -- and where our highest scores are, to clarify all that we have to celebrate! We will continue to refer to the main themes and growth areas that emerged during our group’s Healthcheck process, and I sense that this conversation will serve our continued growth as a team.

 

In the future, we may choose to take on the project of modifying the Healthcheck to make it even more accessible to the US Transition community -- but the resource is already available, and if you’re intrigued or inspired, we encourage you to download the PDF here and try it with your initiating group.

 

Let us know how it goes! You can always share your experiences in Transition with us by emailing stories@transitionus.org.

 
 

 

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TUS Health Check.pdf5.42 MB

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