John Hamerlinck
I am passionate about helping people create social change. My website is

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training, research, writing, leadership development, strategic thinking/planning, workforce development, higher ed.

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Are people interested in exploring the use of ABCD principles to change institutional practice?

Three Lessons Learned from Reflecting on an ABCD Training Exercise

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By: John Hamerlinck
Posted in: Reflections and Ideas

I do a considerable amount of ABCD training. I always end an introductory training with an exercise that has people identify actions they could take, based on connecting the assets they have identified, and written down on index cards, to those shared by other people in their small group. Randomly placed 3 X 5 cards scattered on a table have not surprisingly, yielded tremendous amounts of energy, as well as some fascinating ideas.

We always take time to reflect at the end of the training. Here are just three of the things I have learned from those reflections.

First, people in their teens and early twenties seem to have the least trouble with the concept that everyone’s contributions have value. It seems like whenever groups of young people are connecting assets, they are more likely to work to ensure that all of the identified assets are somehow included. If your group is struggling you might consider welcoming some young people to join you.

Secondly, there are always surprises. One of my favorite reflection questions is, “Did anything about the process, or about your group’s assets surprise you? “ The following revelations have come from this question:

  • The quietest, most reserved person in the room turned out to be the bass player in a punk band.
  • Someone didn’t know that a person they worked with every day, spoke three languages.
  • Three people in one small group had actually made wedding cakes for friends.

Finally, people quickly recognize that ABCD promotes collaborative leadership. I ask folks about the process in their group. It almost never involves one person taking charge, and prescribing a direction for the group. The mere act of seeing the connections between assets encourages shared responsibility and collaborative leadership.

I’d be interested to hear about experiences that you’ve have had with people experiencing the connecting of assets for the first time.