Managing

The passport has surfaced and I should have it in my hands when I board the flight for Addis. Miracles happen and DHL sometimes messes up.

Today we distributed the tasks for the three day workshop that starts tomorrow. I will do very little as I have handed over the baton to the team from Cote d’Ivoire, a mix of MSH staff and ministry of health staff. That was my job and it is nearly done. There were some misaligned expectations of the local staff, our rookie facilitators who inquired about per diem and facilitation fees, a manifestation of the disease we have created called ‘perdiemitis.’ I invoked good governance by saying if there were written rules about that on government letterhead we would gladly pay. Of course no one can produce such a document.

We wrestled with French translations of several words that were invented in Anglophone cultures. Every country and every French speaker seem to have his or her ideas about which French word best represents these essentially untranslatable concepts. We use Leadership and Management instead of Direction and Gestion – there are nuances that get lost in translation. Try to translate stewardship!  We are having endless conversations about this.

The whole notion of andragogy is still alien to people. They have received a classic French education that starts with definitions. One of my new trainees was wondering why we are asking all the questions to participants, like this one “think of a time when you worked in a great and productive team? What made it great?” Luckily one of the people I trained a year and a half ago, the cohort that is now taking my place, explained patiently that it is all about discovery of what knowledge we already have inside us. Yeah!

In the meantime I am counting the days to leave this hotel, have a good massage and a pedicure. This will happen in Addis. I looked up the hotel we will stay in and it has a picture of two Ethiopian beauties smiling in their white towels in the hotel spa. Here, the closed I come to spa is the wrapping on the tiny guest soaps “Spa, les fleurs du coton.”

The hotel owner is apparently some sort of priest or evangelical on Sundays. He showed up in flowing white robes when we settled into our conference room last Sunday. Seeing him in his flowing robes reminded me of the chapter in the brilliant Congo book about ‘la bière et la prière. On Monday he was dressed in ordinary clothes with a ladies handbag crossed over his chest like a conductor, except conductors don’t have ladies handbags. In it is a calculator and probably money. He spends a lot of time calculating.

He doesn’t seem to take his management duties very serious. This morning he sat down in the restaurant watching TV while the curtain rail (including curtains) on one side of room had collapsed onto a couch but he didn’t seem to notice. He doesn’t seem to be in the least concerned about his surly staff, the state of the kitchen, the lax security (regarding personal possessions, not terrorists) and the quality of the breakfast.’

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