Spinning forward and backward

Last night my head was spinning. I am working on three assignments, each requiring all my design skills. I can now put these to good use after having successfully convinced my colleagues and counterparts that trying something new is worth the perceived risks. Everyone is on board now and they have experienced the methods I bring. They can now judge for themselves rather than basing decisions on fear.

But last night I was wrestling with a formatting glitch in MSWord that I couldn’t master. I was preparing an agenda from facilitation notes originally developed in either Nigeria or Mexico. The table marked day 3 kept jumping to the head of the line, half overlapping day 1 and day 5 refused to come closer to day 4. I started this work at 7:30 PM and by 9:30PM I was none the wiser, after having created new tables from scratch and cutting and pasting. Eventually I created one separate document for each day and sent the whole darn thing to my Afghan counterpart. In my nearly three weeks here it is the first night I went to bed after 10:30 PM, very late for me. I was exhausted.

Today was better. I learned my lesson to not copy someone else’s design and then altering it. It’s an authentic design based on expressed needs and wishes, not some generic idea of what I/we at HQ think people should know. Progress!

We are 4 hours into the 12 hour Learning Organization workshop and maintain a good showing, 27 people came today, a slight loss over yesterday but at least 3 of our most senior staff were called out to meet with USAID. That trumps most other activities.

We reviewed the here, the there and what’s in the way when it comes to being a learning organization in Afghanistan. Three groups are trying to come up with concrete proposals to change deeply engrained behaviors – yet the willingness to look at those is encouraging. Everyone knows this will be hard but these are their ideas, not mine.

The last hours of the day we had people taste three methods aimed at learning from experience in the system: an After Action Review, a Before Action Review and Peer Assist; two colleagues each took one of those and took people through the steps, using the actual work that is being done here. Some good ideas came out of the exercise which I hope find their way into the plans.

Not unexpectedly there are few women in the group of participants but those who are there are not keeping quiet and their contributions are important, even though not always recognized as such. It’s a matter of perseverance and finding supporters.

The stand-up facilitation is hard on my ankle. It is sore and swollen when I get to the guesthouse. Judy has put several small bottles of water in the freezer and they serve as my icepack – a little hard to apply but with some ingenuity I can bind the bottle to my ankle where it stays as long as I don’t move.

In the meantime I have developed a tendinitis in my upper left arm, from the overload on my arm I assume. I progress in one place and I fall back in another. The tendinitis makes for uncomfortable sleeping, dressing, showering and in general, raising my left arm.

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January 2014
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