ACA framework

A framework for development

We’ve taken our Awareness-Choice-Action (ACA) framework from its roots in wellbeing development and applied it to frame our work with people and organisations with social purpose.

Our research shows that meaningful and sustainable change and development comes from:

A = Awareness… of self and situation

C = Choice… realising different options

A = Action… enabling agency to act

Interested? Read on for more detail, or click any of the following for a more specific area:

Consultancy & Coaching

Our assumptions behind ACA development

  • We believe development is all about context! That is, our access and opportunities to develop within our context
  • Equally, our context is affected by our development and how we influence it. They are two mutually reinforcing factors
  • So therefore, it’s about systems and structures: awareness and understanding that the contexts we are interacting within are made up of different systems and structures that enable and constrain development. We are all in different situations and have access to development at different levels and at different times
  • And so, it’s mostly all about agency: realising choices to take action and navigate these systems and structures. Therefore, increased agency is the key to development, individually and collectively: as groups and teams, organisations and communities.

We can’t do development to people – but we can enable lightbulb moments!

  • Increased agency is achieved through becoming empowered in our contexts
  • Empowerment is an intrinsic process: we can’t empower people! Therefore, we can’t do development to people
  • Thus, as consultants and coaches, our role is to enable, support and facilitate empowerment, supporting agency, amid people’s differing structures and systems, towards increased development (enabling lightbulb moments!)

Empowerment and agency

Agency develops through a process of empowerment. This is a complex concept that is often reduced to oversimplified terms. Empowerment is about people’s sense of power. It includes multiple sources of power such as knowledge, roles, positions and resources.

We can not empower people as it is an intrinsic process (Maynard, 2011). As professionals we can support and facilitate this process, providing conditions that spark a process enabling people to develop their empowerment. Enabling empowerment is therefore central to the practice of development. We define this process of empowerment in three clear phases:

  • Awareness – this is a catalytic process, sparking new thought or realisation, and wanting. Some people call these lightbulbs! The outcomes of which are increased consciousness of ‘this is who I am’, ‘this is what I like and dislike’, ‘this is what I am good at and not good at’ and ‘this is what I want and don’t want’.
  • Choice – this is the process of realising more choices, taking or releasing control and commitment to a change process – to commit to using personal (and collective) power to achieve change. This catalyses a pro-active process of finding solutions to ‘how’ we get what we want.
  • Action – this is mobilising power into agency by taking action and making change. Agency isn’t a one off change; it is transferring learning of how we do this into multiple areas of our lives: continuously gaining more awareness, more choice, and taking more actions – sustaining our agency towards development. We have agency, we feel good and are functioning well. This is regarding oneself; both in and for society, as well as collective, for example when communities take action.

Consultancy & Coaching

Want to know more? Check out our latest book which provides all the detail of the wellbeing development theoretical framework and case studies showing its use in a range of practices.

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