Catalyzed

Time flies when you are having fun. We started the stakeholder alignment meeting yesterday and now it is already over. We had expected about 50 people but had many more. Some had not answered M’s emails and so we assumed they weren’t coming. And then they did show up and brought others along.

M provided a fabulous buffer between me and the work inside the conference room and the haggling outside about this and that, per diem, requests for a room, hotel staff orders and surprises. She handled all these with grace and a smile, even if sometimes she wasn’t feeling so smiley inside. I knew nothing of this and just noticed we had a group that seemed larger than 50. Towards the very end they were all still there as no one wanted to leave unless they really had to.

The room was quite full with 8 round tables that left little maneuvering space for the many wheelchair users but everyone was graceful and patient.

By the second morning the catalytic nature (and intent) of the meeting was already clear. Connections had been made and ideas bubbled up everywhere. Someone had already posted on her facebook what was happening. I am not sure everyone understands how facebook works so I encouraged them to ‘like’ each others’ posts to expand the circle exponentially.

The design worked exactly as I had expected and surprised everyone else. Once designed the hard work for me was done and started for the participants but many never realized it was work. The atmosphere was congenial and collaborative – but what else could it be when the focus is on what everyone wants? To me that is not a surprise but to those used to powerpoint presentations by people who talk too much, who dictate or pontificate, the idea that a meeting like this could be fun and fly by in no time, was entirely novel.

Having done such events many time, a few things were quite remarkable about working in the Philippines: the ability of the participants to design and execute a report on group work in the form of a performance (including songs) in a very short time; the willingness to take on tasks and sign on to take a lead role (rather than people volunteering each other) and ignoring breaks entirely and forgetting all about time.

We are now moving into the next activity which is entirely scripted by a WHO team that is piloting the design in different parts of the world. This is hard for me, to stick to a tight sequence and line by line instructions. Part of me doesn’t want to prepare for this and I have postponed getting ready for my sessions until the last minute – not my usual modus operandi.

1 Response to “Catalyzed”


  1. 1 Judith J. Haycock April 1, 2014 at 8:27 am

    You always show people how to have a good time, what a gift! Wonderful that you have passed the scribing techniques to your daughters.

    I’m still in Florida, it’s been an amazing warm and wonderful winter and I bet Spring will get to New England very soon…I’ll return in mid-May.


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