Managing time

I am getting better and am nearly again my old pre-flight  self. I am sending little whiffs of seawater mixed with copper up my nostrils three times a day. It is wonder medicine. I think I should bring it on all my trips in the future. The cough medicine and ear drops are not bad either – it’s a good package and I am tempted to ask the doctor to prescribe me another set for my travel kit.

We completed the first day of a three day event to help the NGOs we support here with questions of basic management, leadership and governance. I am working with a dynamite team and actually have little to do – they are carrying the bulk of the work and do it masterfully. The follow up of this event is in good hands with them.

I taught the team (I teach every team but some ignore this) about filling a program with several pockets of unprogrammed time, hidden to the eye of the participant. It allows us to be unfazed by people trickling in late and starting nearly an hour late, or lunch taking 50% more time that what we had anticipated, or people expecting the program to end half an hour earlier than we had planned. All this, one might think, means people are not getting their money’s worth (or the taxpayer his/her money’s worth) – but really what it means is that we don’t have to rush, we can be patient, we can go into side roads that seem pertinent and people don’t feel like we are stuffing them with information and theories that they cannot connect to their daily lives, while we are constantly looking at our wrists. Good time management is what they expect from us. We honor that commitment in seemingly magical ways – but really it’s no magic. We simply program only 75% of the officially available time.

We explored what leading and managing really look like in daily life, what good governance requires, having the knowledge that is in the room circulate freely, from the highest levels to the lowest levels, Some NGOs are more sophisticated than others. We have physicians, accountants, engineers, professional managers, administrators, educators and musicians in the room – for once not a lot of medical folks – this is rare in my work. The diversity of professional experiences adds richness to the conversations. I like it. There is also little hierarchy in the room as most are executive directors or Board chairs – I like this too – everyone seems to feel at ease speaking out, except one woman who lost her voice – so she whispers in my ear and I amplify her voice. I feel for her because I nearly got to that place if it wasn’t for the doctor and her medicine.

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