Postcards from the Edge

of Bangladesh

Yes, I do actually do some work sometimes too

Yesterday I hosted a workshop on monitoring and evaluation here at work. Very, very simple monitoring and evaluation that I’m trying to implement here. The original participants numbered about 10, but lines of communication between myself and Chanchu (the Executive Director) were crossed/ignored. So instead of 10 people, 35 people turned up. Which in fact turned out to be a good thing.

Workshops here are great. It’s so unlike giving any training in the UK. Not that I’ve actually trained or facilitated that many workshops in the UK, but I’ve attended plenty. Usually one is in the back of the classroom either a) thoroughly bored or b) doing other, not-related-to-the-training work or c) so hung-over one may as well be asleep. C) is especially true for residential training, and especially for any Accenture training at the Accenture mother-ship in Chicago. Everyone really just goes as you get free flights to the States, spends the whole week in bar getting drunk and heads off for their American holiday even before lunch on the final day.

But here, people get well into it. Especially if you give them some small group work, and make them present their findings/output back to the whole group. It’s hysterical. Yesterday’s group activity was to create a SMART (you know, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) objective from an un-SMART one I had given them. During the brief feedback sessions, people got INVOLVED. So ‘brief’ turned into waaay longer than I had planned for, but I really didn’t want to reign them in. I let them just go with it, and ‘it’ turned into full-on debates with counter-arguments, and sub plots. I just loved it. There was so much energy and enthusiasm. And yes, that equals people actually learning something (yay!). Which is in such sharp contrast to any typical UK training, where no one really gets involved and most can barely summons the energy to even pretend to be interested. Or at least that’s the way Accenture training goes. Except for the Americans… always super keen. Best to get yourself an American in your group, who’ll do all the work while you nurse your hangover.

My ED and I kind of co-facilitated the workshop. I did all the prep, gave him copies all the notes, handouts etc. Which he didn’t read, and then lost. But despite that, he pulled it off brilliantly. He’s such a great personality and so likeable I just can’t get too serious about lack of preparation.

It’s odd facilitating a workshop where the majority of the discussions are in a language (Chakma) you don’t understand. So it goes something like this: I say something, which is then translated by Chanchu, with perhaps a bit of elaboration/explanation. But even from the odd word you pick up, you can tell it’s not really what you said. Or even if it is, there’s a lot of off piste-ing going on. And sometimes it’s OFF off-piste. Like their skis are propped up next to a mountain restaurant, and they’re inside getting pissed on vin rouge, while you’re on the slopes wondering where everyone is. A lot of the time I don’t know WHAT is going on. And then, after a heated 20 minute debate (following my 2 minute piece requiring simple translation…), Chanchu will turn around to me and say ‘Ok, you can continue’. Um… ok, well I didn’t follow all (any) of what you all just discussed but you know, let’s just stumble on and see where that gets us…

It really is so much fun. I sit back and sometimes just marvel at how it all unfolds.


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