Owning or renting

We left Kigali at daybreak in order to arrive early on the shores of Lake Kivu to set up the room, get our instruction slides in order, dot the ‘i’s’ and cross the ‘t’s’. Official starting time was 2PM

I had put in a lot of padding for the afternoon sessions as I was aware of the many factors we would have no control over. One such a factor was the actual versus planned departure of the participants from Kigali.  Planned for 8AM, the last bus left Kigali around 11:30AM. By the time they arrived everyone was tired and grumpy, even more so when they discovered that their per diem was half of what they expected.

The time buffers around each activity paid off. We ended the day only slightly behind schedule and caught up by the next day.

The language barrier is omnipresent. Although it is true that everyone in HQ or field lead positions can speak English, comprehension by many is more limited. We had to insert quite a bit of translation.

The processes, from historical timeline to mission to vision to contradictions to strategic directions was taxing at times. The inductive processes and our requests to look for patterns and naming them is new to many. Concepts and tasks needed much more explanation, and often translation, than we had expected. In addition, the chief’s English is also limited. Her second language is French, which none of my colleagues speak well enough to use. And so I have parallel conversations in French – there is much that gets lost in translation.

In addition to the language complications (a continuation of what we experienced in Bangkok) there were many taxing moments with client requests, needs and desires a constantly moving target. This too may be related to none of us communicating in our first language. Adjustments, re-budgeting of time, making short cuts and dropping things altogether were the order of the day.

We were aiming for ownership, which is always hard in the beginning. Getting ownership means people go at their own pace and the products of their thinking may not quite be up to the standards one would want. It is the tradeoff between owning and renting someone else’s ideas.

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