IAF Methods

What Would the Founders Say?

by for . Last edit was about 2 years ago
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A reflective process for groups

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To use the spirit of the founders of the organization as inspiration for confronting today's issues, perhaps as an opening to a strategic planning session.


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  • A story, presentation, video



Prepare the story and/or presentation/video about the beginnings of the organization with emphasis on the issues, the competition, the social circumstances the organization was founded to confront.


  1. After a story, film or presentation about the founding or early start-up of your organization, divide participants into teams of 5-7 people.
  2. For each team, assign one of the persons involved in the beginning of the organization -- “ this could include the founder him or herself, colleagues of the founder, competitors who sought to deal with the same issues in a different way, victims of the issues that your organization was founded to address and perhaps spokespersons for other organizations active at the time of founding.
  3. Each team reflects on two questions:
    What was this person's perspective on what we were doing when this organization began? What would this person have to say to us today?
  4. Teams report back results of their conversations. Then reflect with the whole team:
    What are points that struck you in this reporting?
    What was encouraging for you? Uncomfortable?
    How would you describe the times we are in now?
    What should our priorities be in our discussions today?

Potential pitfalls: This may be a more reflective start to a session than the group wishes

How success is evaluated: To what degree is there creativity regarding the needs of the current times in the strategies developed during the session?


Source: Maureen Jenkins

Recognizable components: Team reflection, Plenary reflection

References: Team reflection, Plenary reflection

History of Development: I did some reflective sessions like this with religious orders who were studying their history. In the discussion surrounding the death of Steve Jobs, I realized that reflection on an organization's founding period and its founders can be very useful for secular organizations as well.

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  • Could add some real perspective and focus a group on its original purpose.

    over 3 years ago