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August 17, 2009
Focus on: Scoping Missions
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What is a BRIDGE showcase?

BRIDGE uses the word ‘showcase’ to refer to the use of a specially customised BRIDGE workshop to demonstrate the BRIDGE methodology to potential clients or stakeholders. That stakeholders understand BRIDGE is vital to the success of any BRIDGE program, as is assists with expectation management, appropriate objective setting and appropriate program design.

One of the potential obstacles in establishing a BRIDGE program is misconceptions as to what BRIDGE is and what it can do. Having people actually participate in a BRIDGE workshop is the best way to deal with these misconceptions.

Showcase workshops will usually be run at the beginning of a program, to allow for familiarisation and buy-in. There may be reasons to run showcases at later stages in the program as well (such as new stakeholders becoming involved, or new staff) but the showcase is essentially to demonstrate BRIDGE to those who are unfamiliar with it. It is not usually run with the intention of contributing to the objectives of a BRIDGE program (e.g. to provide training in certain areas of the electoral process), but rather to consolidate understanding and support for the program as a whole. Once a program is established, this should be less of an issue.

It is important to involve experienced BRIDGE facilitators in the showcase workshop as they will be able to answer questions that might arise, and will also ensure that a quality workshop is delivered. Experienced facilitators will also have the knowledge to choose the right mix of materials and to understand how to deal with the cultural make-up of the participants.

It might also be beneficial to involve any less experienced local facilitators, if they exist, to both provide a local perspective in the facilitation team, and also give them experience in their own context (as it is likely that they will be involved in the rollout of any program).

Using BRIDGE modules in the showcase

A showcase is usually based around the Introduction to Electoral Administration module, which is designed to be a good, broad summary of electoral principles and key areas. It gives a taste of each of the different thematic groups, has a good range of approaches within the BRIDGE methodology, and establishes the appropriate pedagogical and ethical framework for the rest of the program.

However, depending on the audience, it is possible that another module is more appropriate, or a mixture of activities from different modules. For example, if a potential client organisation was considering running a program based on a more specialised area, such as boundary delimitation, and the stakeholder audience is experienced in boundary issues, it might be more worthwhile to demonstrate the rigour of the content and run a showcase based on the Boundary Delimitation module.

Showcasing for decision makers

Those people making the decision as to whether or not to use BRIDGE, or the direction of a BRIDGE program, should be familiar and comfortable with what BRIDGE is. A showcase is the best way to quickly familiarise decision makers, and encourage their buy-in.

Showcasing for potential facilitators and implementers

Another reason for running a showcase is to familiarise those who will be involved in the delivery of any BRIDGE program – the facilitators and implementers. It is particularly important for both of these groups to have a good understanding of BRIDGE before they either begin training as a facilitator (at a BRIDGE TtF) or organising programs.

Key points to consider for showcasing

However, some critical points need to be borne in mind. These include:

  • A key consideration in showcasing is to ensure that the strengths of BRIDGE are highlighted, while handling (explicitly or implicitly) the concerns regarding its use that may be in the minds of the audience.
  • Such concerns may be that BRIDGE:
  • threatens hierarchy
  • cuts across operational priorities
  • does not tackle real operational needs
  • relies on a non-traditional, activity-based teaching methodology
  • On the other hand, BRIDGE’s strengths lie in the fact that it is:
  • based on a state-of-the art methodology that is likely to become standard practice
  • an instrument for professional development contributing to the motivation of staff
  • regularly updated by experts
  • modular and adaptable to the audiences
  • a shell, a tool, or a framework to be owned by the implementing and client agencies
  • built upon the principles of modern management – learning, changing, liberating opinions, empowering individuals, respecting diversity (gender, age), and acknowledging merit
  • Those responsible for planning such showcasing, particularly where activities are to be demonstrated, should constantly keep in mind the following requirements to:
  • think carefully about the target audience (taking account of levels of seniority, and perspectives) and tailor arguments to be as effective as possible, bearing in mind that the less they know the audience, the more cautious they should be
  • choose the language accordingly
  • establish credibility, notably by stressing the serious and substantial nature of BRIDGE
  • pick a local circumstance and select a related activity that demonstrates relevance
  • focus on the key essentials, choosing the most complex subject (for example boundary delimitation) and the least dynamic methodology – things that are too generic or simple should not be showcased
  • refrain from starting with an ‘ice-breaker’ activity
  • stress that the point of motivated self-learning is to reach the learning outcome through personal discovery – BRIDGE activities are designed to be memorable and innovative
Ben
Ben

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