More of the same, but different

In response to a September 5th invitation to present the results of the last workshop to an internal communications team meeting at Save the Children US offices, I made further plans to organize a similar training for the field staff of Save the Children US.

This workshop however provided capacity building for the Pastoralist Livelihood Initiative consortium partners for the health program. Twenty representatives from the five NGOs (Mercy Corps, International Rescue Committee, Care Ethiopia, SCUK and SCUSA) were in attendance.

For this workshop, a joint area of working was identified to provide a short 1.5-day workshop for the field staff.  This workshop linked using one’s communication skills with case study writing and annual reporting.  This workshop was provided because it has been determined that the field staff could use such training to help them develop case studies, and instruct them on how to take good notes and quality pictures.

Also, since writing is one of the key communication skills, it was also deemed important to understand the various communication skills and avoid barriers that could limit one’s overall presentation skills. Alongside their project implementation and reporting, photos could also be used for various purposes. In addition, the case studies draw out the human side of the story.

While working to enforce the need for good communication skills in the workplace, the behavior of flexible thinking was introduced.  Flexible thinking refers to a person’s ability to anticipate and respond to situations that require either a shift in perspective or entirely new ideas. Given the demands for innovation in today’s economies, many business leaders feel that it is important to help their employees get ready for innovation that will be needed tomorrow. Attendees understood why flexible thinking is a choice but also recognized that the dimensions of questioning, recognizing, clarifying, listening, and imagination affect employee engagement and work commitment.

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The 20 attendees were divided into four teams where they worked on revising and refining the case studies they brought to the workshop. This activity embodied a practical field level exercise of case study writing, photo-caption writing and tips on taking good pictures.  Using the current learning of the importance of communication skills, flexible thinking, case study and photo-caption writing, each team was charged with developing a case study complete with photo captions. During the last day of the workshop, the teams worked together to complete their case studies, made presentations of their work and were subsequently critiqued by their peers and workshop facilitators.

The attendees responded to the survey in a positive manner. On the narrative portion of the survey however, the respondents were mixed on the elements presented. Many responded to finding all topics beneficial to their professional career and interaction with their peers.  Some wanted an annual refresher course. Still others did not provide the requested example of flexible thinking though they said they understood. Some did not address the question asked and still other responses were quite broad. Perhaps a writing class will help them to become better writers for case study writing and reporting.

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