Assessing and Managing Risk: A Guide for Activist Organisations

The following tools in the section draw on Protection International's Protection Manual for LGBTI Defenders.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this activity participants will be able to:

  1. Assess and understand the context in which you work.
  2. Conduct a stakeholder analysis, through which you can identify the main organisations and stakeholders that might support or undermine the work you are doing.
  3. Conduct a force-field analysis, through which you can develop strategies to enhance your work and reduce the risks you may identify.

This process will differ according to the specific context in which you are working. It is a guide that we hope will be useful, but it is not a definitive process.

Group Size/Type

5 – 7; organisation staff and service users

Materials

  1. Plain white paper - the larger the better.
  2. Pens. A range of colour pens to identify different kinds of stakeholders would be useful

Time

30 - 60 minutes for each stage of the process, depending on the availability of time.

Notes for the Facilitator

Suggestions for working with limited time

Each tool includes a set of questions or reflections for the group to use in their discussion.   The most important aspect of the tool is that it gives people in an organisation the chance to sit and really think about the environment they are working in, and to proactively identify ways to minimise risk and increase the strategic value of their work.

However, time to do this kind of thinking-work is often limited, and if an hour for each component of this exercise is too long, it might be possible to allocate 30 minutes to each.  

Below is a suggestion for working to a 30/60 minute session:

  • Introduction (5 minutes): Allocate 5 minutes at the beginning of each session to outline the main objectives (included in the introduction to each component).
  • Group Discussion (20/40 minutes): Depending on the available time, allocate 20 - 40 minutes for the group to discuss the questions and to write down their reflections on the paper together.
  • Feedback Session (5/15 minutes): To take these conversations forward, it is important to allocate time at the end of each session for feedback. Again, depending on time, allocate 5 - 15 minutes for the feedback session, and if possible, ask one person to record the main points from the discussion which can then be used for ongoing reflection in the organisation over time.
Suggestions for long-term engagement
  • If you have worked on paper, put the paper up in the office in a place where people might collect to make tea, or talk, with some pens located near by, and encourage people to continue to add to the stakeholder map, or the force-field analysis, over time.
  • This tool would be valuable for long-term reflection, and can also be integrated over time into team-meetings, for example. This would enable the members of your organisation to reflect on changes to the context in which you are working, and to build on these diagrams and conversations over time, and with a strategic focus.”
 Suggestions for working with multiple groups
  • Smaller groups are ideal for this kind of work. If there are more than 5 - 7 people, then arrange people into multiple small groups. The groups can then work alongside each other and present their work to each other at the end of each session.
  • Working with multiple groups will also enable a broader range of contributions, particularly from people who might not feel comfortable talking openly in larger groups.
  • In the feedback session, the different groups or group members might present different responses to the questions. For example, one group might say 'yes' to the question, 'Is our working environment safe enough to do our work', and another group might answer 'no'. This difference can be usefully explored in a group discussion where people can explain the reasons for their different answers.
  • Through this process, not only will the groups map the information that flows from each answer (on laws, stakeholders and allies), but the process could also identify some points that could be addressed within the organisation or in the way the organisation works with others, to support its members.
  • Each component covers substantial ground, and while some people in the group may be familiar with the details explored in each phase of this tool, others might be less sure or less confident in articulating their understanding of risk, of stakeholders, or of how laws and policies affect their work.
  • This resource, by Robert Chambers, provides some basic suggestions for ensuring that all people in the group feel comfortable with participating.
Suggestions for working with difference
  • In the feedback session, the different groups or group members might present different responses to the questions. For example, one group might say 'yes' to the question, 'Is our working environment safe enough to do our work', and another group might answer 'no'. This difference can be usefully explored in a group discussion where people can explain the reasons for their different answers.
  • Through this process, not only will the groups map the information that flows from each answer (on laws, stakeholders and allies), but the process could also identify some points that could be addressed within the organisation or in the way the organisation works with others, to support its members.
Working with large groups
  • Each component covers substantial ground, and while some people in the group may be familiar with the details explored in each phase of this tool, others might be less sure or less confident in articulating their understanding of risk, of stakeholders, or of how laws and policies affect their work.
  • This resource, by Robert Chambers, provides some basic suggestions for ensuring that all people in the group feel comfortable with participating.