Team Building and Communication Training with VIPP in Russia, October 18-20, 2007

26 11 2007

During October 18 to 20, 2007, Neill McKee facilitated a retreat with the Healthy Russia Foundation (HRF), Moscow, an organization which was fostered by Neill and his organization, the Center for Communication Programs, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore. The retreat was used to build a team spirit amongst members of the HRF, to review the 2007-2008 workplans and to bring all staff members up to speed on strategic communication concepts and methods.

The retreat was very successful and evaluated highly by the participants. They not only achieved the teambuilding, coordination and training objectives, they also came up with concrete strategies for some particular health problems in Russia, such as the safety and nutrition of young children, traffic safety and improving abulence services, as well as a communication strategy to deal with the psycho-social stress felt by professionals on the job in today’s Russian working environment.

A large variety of VIPP methods were used during the 3-day event and all staff members participated and contributed – even office management, accounting staff and the receptionist. In addition, the participants had time to enjoy some walks in the nearby forest populated with deer and (fenced in) wild boars and to enjoy a barbeque and dance night.

This short retreat demonstrated that even in the sometimes rather heavy and top-down Russian bureaucratic environment, given a chance, VIPP will empower people to work together in a more creative and productive way.


VIPP in Adolescent Health: Teaching – Learning Tool

24 02 2007

The use of VIPP in a key teaching-learning tool developed by WHO’s Department of Child and Adolescent Health and Development.

A key priority of the Department of Child and Adolescent Health and Development is to strengthen the capacity of health workers to respond to their adolescent patients effectively and with sensitivity. The aim is not to create a cadre of specialists. It is to build the capacity of trained and registered health workers who are already providing preventive and curative clinical services to children, adolescents and adults.
The objectives of the capacity building efforts are to help the health worker find answers to these questions:
• Why should I be concerned about adolescents ?
• What do I need to know & do differently if the patient who walks into my clinic is 16, not 6 or 36?
• What could I do outside my clinic, to help other influential people in my community understand & respond to the needs of adolescents?

A package of teaching-learning tools that aim to add, and add value to existing WHO training materials and guidelines have been developed. A key tool is the Orientation Programme on Adolescent Health for Health Care Providers (OP).

The OP aims to draw upon the experiences of participants to:
• help them see adolescents in a way that they have not done before;
• help them view things from an adolescents’ perspective;
• motivate them to them to do something meaningful for adolescents;
• help them think through how to deal with adolescents in their everyday work.

The OP uses a mix of teaching-learning methods, that match the teaching-learning objectives. These include:
• Mini lectures
• Structured discussion
• Analysis of case studies
• Problem solving
• Role playing
• Stimulating reflection on personal & professional experiences.

The VIPP methodology provides the basis for much of the plenary and group work sessions. It ensures that the teaching and learning is truly participative. The Module on Substance Use in Adolescents, for example, illustrates how participatory methods grounded in VIPP have been interwoven with more conventional methods (such as mini lectures). This is crucial because in a typical OP workshop, involves cadres of health workers (e.g. doctors and nurses); and health workers of different levels of seniority (e.g. senior and junior nurses). Adolescents are also involved as active participants.

Experiences from the Field (Madagascar, Ethiopia…)

24 02 2007

VIPP (Visualization In Participatory Programs) is a people centered approach to planning, training and groups events.
In Madagascar, from 1997 (when the first TOT was carried out in French) until now, VIPP has became a key tool for the GAIN – Groupe d’Actions Intersectoriel pour la Nutrition and similar forums. Many workshops involving more than 50 partners were carried out using VIPP, the most important being: Revitalization of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative; Development of the Behavior Change Communication Nutrition Strategy; Harmonization of Nutrition and Child Survival messages; Adoption of the Micro-nutrients National Protocols; Development and adoption of the National Nutrition Policy. VIPP was also widely used for staff retreats and project planning workshops. VIPP was used at national and district levels.

In Ethiopia, VIPP was used first to identify the nutrition partners as well as their activities, the existing gaps, and what need to be done to move nutrition forward. VIPP became a critical tool for annual work planning in nutrition and child survival, particularly in each of the 3 largest regions of Ethiopia where more than 70 participants gather to elaborate strategies and annual planning. VIPP was also a key tool to develop a draft of the National Nutrition Strategy and the National Guideline for HIV/AIDS and nutrition.

In Ghana, VIPP was used to identify lessons learnt after program implementation with eighty stakeholders.

In Tanzania, VIPP was used during the “Regional Forum on Taking Child Survival to Scale in Eastern, central & Southern Africa”. Members from 12 countries participated to develop the regional strategy and planning.

Lessons learned:
– VIPP workshops are fun, and at the same time participants work very hard, therefore the ideal number of days is less than 3 and half days. Participants leave the workshop with the feeling of having contributed and have a common memory of the events and outcomes.
– VIPP can be used with a large number of participants, up to eighty. First each participant fills up cards individually, then groups of 3 or 4 persons are formed, then groups of 6 or 8. Each time, groups discussed cards and selected a limited numbers of cards. For presentation, large cards are used.

To avoid:
– Plenary card collection with a large group; participants get bored.
– Problem identification without working on solutions; participants are frustrated.
– Flexibility in the process of the workshop; one session might define the content and process of the next session.

Trusting the process and the participants is critical
for the success of a VIPP event

Agnes Guyon

Web Resources for Facilitation Material (Cards – Pinboards)

12 02 2007

Facilitators who look for visualisation material and pinboards may check out the following web-pages either to order material or to obtain ideas about existing models, shapes, costs, etc.

Concerning the founders of facilitation with visualisation in Germany, go to the website of Metaplan: . Metaplan does not produce materials with their brand name but has created a special company by the name of NITOR to provide materials. See:

For a description of Metaplan, please go to a webpage highlighting the elements of this approach: . On this website there is also a description of various methods like brainstorming and mind mapping, as well as other approaches such as action learning, appreciative inquiry, Delphi and others.

NITOR has excellent visualisation boxes but it is Neuland who produce the best Pinboards. Neuland has subsidiary companies worldwide. You may check out:
In German:
In English – UK:
In English – US:
South Africa:
It is possible to download their online catalogue in English.

As these companies produce material for industrial use at management level for adult education centers in Europe and nowadays also for universities and for public administration, the costs are high. Pinboards can cost about 250 Euro each. A visualisation toolkit (box with all materials) costs up to 400 Euro.

However, from local manufacturers in China or Thailand pinboards and toolkits may cost only 100 Euro or less. We will soon post a contribution in this site which will document local production of such materials known to us and give contact details.

Then there are more providers of facilitation material (Moderationsmaterialien) in Germany, some having only German sites. or (a subsidiary company for facilitation and adult education of the German company for office material supplier Edding).

We invite you to write about your experiences of organising and acquiring visualisation material and how you may be able to offer a supply of the necessary materials to others.

Timmi Tillmann

Below is the photo of a basket made of bamboo by Lahu craftsmen in Northern Thailand and filled with hand made paper from Paper Mulberry in different shapes and colors. We have a new supply of baskets in Germany – you may order the fully equipped baskets by writing to me (Tillmann2003(at)

Visualisation Basket from Thailand Read the rest of this entry »

Question on facilitation in European settings

7 02 2007

Kristina Wimberley – Copenhagen

When I worked with UNICEF and WHO (1998-2002) I became completely “converted” to VIPP. However, I am wondering whether it is just as applicable in a Danish setting. In Denmark, there is an “ideology of sameness” which means that everyone should – ideally – be equal. This is expressed in many ways, but typically it involves sitting around a table at the same eye level and talking, and talking, and talking in a cosy atmosphere…. When I facilitated a session using VIPP last week, one feedback I got was that they felt that I was “distanced” from the group because I didn’t join the others in their discussions. This was because I was standing up a lot of the time and not sitting down with them. Clearly, I would do that more another time, but it got me thinking about whether I broke an unspoken cultural rule. Has anyone else experienced something similar?

Feb 5, 11:27 PM

Timmi Tillmann
In group situations exist cultural preferences and I would not deny the possibility that you may have broken a cultural rule. However, there is also another explanation: Did you make your role transparent and explain beforehand that you will be the facilitator and that the aim of this role is to make group discussions more effective and more democratic? This usually works to evoke a different reaction. Once participants feel the advantage of facilitation, they will accept it, in my experience.

Then, you may think about the value of sameness and power relations – did you affect the power balance or relations within the group by taking a different role? I have experienced that “talkshops” do not lead to action (NATO – No Action, Talk Only), participants are used to it, do not have to change their attitudes and it does not affect the status quo. By adding visualisation and key questions to organise the discussion the participants may feel challenged and uncomfortable. Such methods have been used in a lot of social development agencies across Europe and also in the private sector in some countries.