Too often in development work we assume too much too quickly. We open our ears to too many and close our minds to those who are different and unresourced or not influential. There is much value in 'listening to the right people' - mostly by just BEING in their presence and observing.
The skills of observation, appreciative enquiry and (simply) the ability to be silent should never be underestimated in development before attempting to change what one does not fully comprehend. In Africa, there is much need for respectful development approaches that recognise indigenious knowledge. Our team here in South Africa uses our organisation
's own instrument (iPekX - indigenious peoples' knowledge exchange) before any solution is imposed on communities.
Listen Listen Listen... How? By not talking. And then - Advocacy. Then: Talk and don't stop Talking. ;)