How the community listening process is carried out


    How important is the listening process?

    The community listening process seeks to gain an idea of people’s impressions and those of the group we are going to work with regarding a specific problem.
    At the present time, we devote very little time to listening processes, and in the sphere of international cooperation funders demand a diagnosis of the problem and a proposed solution to develop before the programme is confirmed. Therefore, an in-depth analysis of the needs and demands of the community is normally very small.

    "The error lies in believing we know what the solution is for a specific community1 or problem". Gorka Espiau Idoaga, 2017.


    Should each organisation (in the W4P network) carry out their own listening process?

    Every organisation in the ”la Caixa” Foundation’s W4P network will develop a listening process coordinated between all member organisations in the network. Each one, therefore, will take on a specific role — with their own listening group – and between them they will create a common space to collectively interpret the gathered information.


    Which profiles will make up the work group developing the listening process?

    The listening process requires professional profiles specialised in qualitative and/or ethnographic research, as well as experts in social innovation2 and entrepreneurship.


    How big should the team developing the listening process be?

    The size of the team will depend on the area or community1 in which we work. For instance: the process carried out in Uttar Pradesh, India, involves four people – a coordinator, a communications manager and two community workers.
    The most suitable profiles are those which marry a capacity for analysis and research with experience in developing new initiatives. Given these are not easy to find, normally they are combined in the team of people with experience of community work and professionals specialised in the start-up of new employment initiatives. The main thing is that they work together from the start, not separately.


    What is the time scale of the listening process?

    The listening process is maintained throughout; normally the first large-scale actions are identified twelve months after starting, although small-scale initiatives can be identified six months after the start of the process. In any event, the listening process will be sustained across the entire project to ensure it is appropriated by the community1.


    How is the listening group chosen?

    The groups and people that are going to be heard represent the plural nature of the community from a socioeconomic, gender, and age perspective, and the stress must be placed on including people who do not participate in traditional associative networks.


    How are people in the listening group contacted?

    Normally, a preliminary list is made to go on with (from 5 to 10 people), and these people will make suggestions for expanding the list. This is what is known as “snowball sampling”.


    What is a space of collective interpretation?

    This space is a meeting arranged for the contrast group3 and made up of the main organisations that work to generate employment in the operational areas of the W4P programme. We also consult other NGOs with similar objectives, as well as Public Authorities in these zones, private companies which hire personnel and universities.


    How is the space of collective interpretation made more dynamic?

    All organisations will be invited to present the results of their listening work and their opinions on questions which guide our listening process: What is the history each community tells of itself? How does it perceive its future? What are the main challenges and opportunities to create employment? What would they like to do to change the situation? Who gains and who loses if things change?


    What type of space and format do the collective interpretation meetings require?

    These meetings can be held in different places, from community premises, institutional offices and companies to education centres, while the meeting format will vary, depending on the number of participants and the stage of the process at a given moment.


    What happens after each collective interpretation?

    The next step is to go back to the community to corroborate this analysis and shared narrative4. The idea is to say: you told us this about the difficulties to create employment and we have checked it with a wide range of people, many of whom think the same. Between everyone present, the situation/narrative4 and possible solutions are interpreted again. The guidance questions could be: What do you think? Do you agree? What are we missing? Who else should we talk to?



    1. Formulate five key questions which investigate employment possibilities for young women in your community and which you can use in the listening process and share in the forum.

    2. Describe the profiles of three key agents that must be part of your listening group. Try to provide a detailed description which allows other course participants to give their opinion.


    1. Community: A group of people from a village, region or nation.
    2. Social innovation: New ideas (products, services and processes) that simultaneously satisfy the needs of social networks in a more efficient way than existing ones and create relationships or new and long-lasting social collaborations. They are innovations that are not only good for society, but also also improve its ability to act.
    3. Contrast group: A group of people constituted by the network’s organizations, public authorities, private companies, NGOs, schools, universities and any other actor who is affected by or works in the sphere of the intervention.
    4. Narratives: The perceptions that people and the community have of their own lives. They are subjective and have a major influence on the actions they believe can, or cannot, be carried out.
    5. Listening platform: A set of instruments and processes to get an in-depth understanding of the needs, challenges and opportunities of the community.