Straight lines

We finished the last day of the leadership and advanced facilitation workshop which ended with each provincial team preparing how they will roll out the program once back home. They used particular templates which they copy out of a book; everyone was scrambling for a ruler to make straight lines. Even though I told them this was not some architectural drawing contest, the lines have to be straight. May be we should print the templates on plastic next time so they can simply fill in the blanks; it would save some time of the preparation for show time – the time for a gallery walk where each team can both show and comment on the other teams’ products.

The time estimates I had received from my colleagues yesterday for the pieces they were to run were off; this happens everywhere in the world and it puzzles me. These facilitators are experienced, they have done many sessions, and going over time is quite common. So why can they not estimate how long something will take? Is it because they calculate the time they think they need but do not include the time needed to engage others in conversation. Maybe at the root is the lecturer mindset. Lectures are predictable; they start when the prof walks in and are over when the prof walks out, whether on time or not.

Sometimes the trust fall finds me falling, and what was designed goes into another direction; I discover I had assumed something about my co-facilitators, that they understood the rationale for having a gallery walk instead of plenary presentations. In those instances I get a little bossy, especially on last days when there is a hard stop. When lunch comes at 1 we need to be done; after lunch are the closing words and the certificates.

The certificates threatened to pose a problem; a workshop can go entirely south when there are no certificates at the end – it’s the first response we get when we ask about expectations. Certificates are hugely important for reasons I don’t quite understand – after all these people are doctors and have academic certificates on their walls – more valuable I would imagine than the ones handed out for attendance at this or that workshop.

In the middle of the morning I was told that the certificates were stuck at the ministry where the official who has to sign them had closed his door and didn’t want to be disturbed. Anyone higher up in the hierarchy doesn’t have to respect this, but my colleagues are lower and therefore stuck. Somehow it got resolved, like so many issues here get somehow resolved.

We all got what we wanted, except a few people who wanted more money for their lodging, hoping I could resolve this (I could not); then they got on the plane and went home, hopefully not too disappointed about that money and happy because of the certificate. Nothing is a straight line here despite everyone’s best efforts.

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February 2014
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