“The determination to outwit one’s situation means that one has no models, only object lessons.” James Baldwin
I had a somewhat stressful day yesterday in the office. First, I worked with Maha K as well as Maha D to design training on Creating a Social Marketing Product. Maha K is a very strong personality and quite argumentative. It wasn’t so much that she was resistant to the idea of participative learning, but she was very set in how content should be presented (rather than facilitated). I think it took a full hour to get her to agree to the learning objectives. But we persevered and created a half day workshop.
Then Maha D asked a number of questions and, based on my answers, proposed that Maha K teach a full day (adding in another half day workshop on the second P: Price)- so that the participants didn’t have to adjust to a different instructor in the afternoon. Maha K was very unhappy with this idea because she has so much work (everyone is overworked because they are very understaffed at the moment). One reason for understaffing is that maternity leave is only 3 months and most women want more than that, so they quit.
In the interest of consistency and standardization of training, Maha D wanted me to work with the consultant, Mohammed, who used to work there but quit to manage his own business- and who currently teaches, under contract, the price, place and promotion pieces of the training program.
So Maha D and I went to meet with Mona, who is the Deputy and who, because of vacancies, is supervising the entire office of 22 people while under the gun from USAID to get projects up and running. We wanted to discuss three things with Mona and get her approval: (1) for me to work on curriculum design with Mohammed, (2) for the same trainer to teach both product and price on one day, and (3) for me to design the participant materials for the five training programs (to the extent that they could offer the necessary materials and I had the time).
Mona is the wonderful woman who picked Cassie and me up on Friday to go shopping, brought me a winter coat and scarf to borrow, invited us to her home for breakfast on Saturday and the trip to Pella. We get along beautifully.
However…when Maha D told Mona that we had eliminated the hour overview on the history and meaning of social marketing- that the situational analysis training was now a full day- Mona became quite stern, questioning everything without having seen the lesson plan. After about 10 minutes of this, I told her that I felt uncomfortable defending a lesson plan that she hadn’t seen, so I left and got it for her.
Her response was so unexpected and so uncharacteristic of her previous interactions with me, including a very pleasant conversation that morning about the upcoming train the trainer, during which I learned that she is very cognizant of interactive learning. I also had a chance to look over her training library, which included Steven Sugar’s book on training games.
After I handed her the lesson plan, I left again to go get my design notes on the product training program in case I had to “defend” it. However, when I got back, she said it all looked very good and if I thought this was the best way to approach the training, then that is what we should do. [Note: Later on in the design process, I better understood Mona’s concern. She was right. We did need to have some activity to introduce what social marketing was all about.]
I learned an important lesson (in hindsight): When someone feels strongly about something, pay strict attention!
However, I’ll tell you- I was wrung out by the time we left the office and walked through the dust to Ghassan’s car!
May your learning be sweet.