Biodata and profile

Essential  bio data are:

Who? My full name is Russell Gerard Kerkhoven.

Education My early youth and first education took place  in Southern Africa. The rest of my education took place in the Netherlands. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Social anthropology (1984) and a Master of Arts in Sociology of Planning and Policy formulation (1988) and an educational qualification in Social Science research methodology (1988) all from the State University Utrecht. I am a trained facilitator (since 1985) from the Agricultural University Wageningen. I completed a second Masters in Change Management (MCM) at Sioo, the Interuniversity Center for Change and Organisational Development (2002

My Professional Career is driven by working where I can make a contribution and learn. I enjoy exploring ‘difficult’ questions and issues and developing approaches to tackle these on the job, with the existing resources as the starting point.  I have worked for start-up organisations, companies, and units in the Netherlands and abroad, in nearly all cases I have been offered a permanent position. The case where I made this a consideration to stay I regretted.

My Approach is characterised by asking questions, exploring answers, and reflection as steps in enabling clients to explore their practice, work or problem setting. Over time I have learnt the strength of an appreciative approach, as opposed to a problem or deficit based approach.  I am a strong believer in (qualitative) research approaches that bring people together. In all these approaches feedback, feedback loops and interaction are key dynamics of action and (research) design. Using qualitative research approaches that help looking for stories based on lived experience has given me a profile of a hands on researcher consultant with a strong analytical mind. I try to use plain language, rather than high-brow jargon that mystifies an approach or the way I work. (I need to work more on this …)

My Focus My initial idea on consulting was a hands on consultant who asked critical and profound questions, most probably with a strong problem solving (positivistic) stance. Over time I realised that organisations and clients appreaciated my interactive way of working and I learnt to distinguish between programme management and organisational development issues, in addition policy development and review were seemingly natural focus areas, although I did not follow a specific methodological approach. As I worked on my professional development, my focus and image was the oil man, a person who was there and managed to make things work smoothly, a very hands-on approach to consulting, the handyman. This was also grounded in my discomfort with seeing consultants throwing in new concepts without understanding the dynamics or the tools involved. I was trained as a change management consultant in the being sceptical tradition. Asking questions is an art and skill through this I learnt that advocating for change sounds impressive, a focus on exploring and developing learning processes is more creative, enabling and fits my appreciation for interaction with clients, users and people. Over time I have evolved to become a staunch believer and practitioner of strength based approaches, such as Appreciative Inquiry, and focus on making things happen by building on what is there.