Archive for April 24th, 2014

Right brains

Last night I went out with an ex MSH colleague with whom I travelled to Ethiopia some years ago. At the time he was considering to participate in the 2011 Cameroonian Presidential elections and I had volunteered to be on his support team. Since then he left MSH but did not become president. He has interrupted his campaigning for now and is employed as a consultant by the World Bank to serve the same institution I am working with.

We ate at the nuns, my second time. This time the Vietnamese lady was not there but she had clearly trained her local staff to maintain the standard of quality and service. The only thing missing was one little detail: being welcomed at the gate and being accompanied to the gate at the end. It’s a small touch that doesn’t require any additional money or skills but it is memorable and will forever be associated with the experience.

This time we ate sufficiently late that we got to witness the famous singing of the nuns. This is what the restaurant (chain) is known for, both here in Bobo and Ouaga. Small postcards with the text of the Ave Maria they would sing were handed out to us and one other diner. Then nuns came from everywhere, one with a guitar, and they lined up on the side with one lead singer in our midst and we sung together. It was lovely.

Today our day is truncated by a big meeting at which everyone has to be present. After a short session in the morning, we had the next 3 hours to focus on tasks that had accumulated in the meantime – some requiring the internet which is better in the training room than any other place I know in this town.

I am still not sure we can pull it off, to complete the program maintaining the quality and integrity of the program. Lunch came late, so we started, once again, in catch up mode and ended, once again, half an hour later. But at least we completed what we had in mind for Thursday. We have to, as we are entering the last day tomorrow and that is a hard stop.

In the afternoon I had people draw things rather than express them in abstract words. Most are hesitant about this, some are reluctant and one flat out refuses. I liken their right brain to a muscle that needs to build up strength and I am their physical therapist recommending exercises knowing very well what a pain this is. I cite what I know about the brain, the right hemisphere in particular, what it is good at and how that relates to their work. I am doing what they do all the time: experts telling their audience what to do. And in some cases, it falls on deaf ears – entirely predictable. But I don’t think people see it that way.

April 2014
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