Saturday, 30 May 2009

Thoughts from the Middle East - Part 2

Well, I am back in the UK now following my week in the Middle East. In my last post I was thinking through how I was going to approach this piece of work and the key principles I needed to stick to. So, did it all go according to plan....?

Well, on the whole the visit was a successful one. It is always a fascinating experience working with a new culture but there were a couple of important learning points for me:
  • Investing the effort in defining your learning outcomes up front and ensuring that people buy in to them is hugely beneficial. Even though the way the learning outcomes will be different for this environment we were still able to use them as the driver for the solution we came up with.
  • Getting the right local people involved is critical. More by luck than judgement we had some very influential local people involved in the process. This really opened up the doors and smoothed the way so that we were able to agree upon a solution. Next time I don't want to simply rely on luck.....
  • Taking the time to really understand the local environment and not making assumptions is important. I tried really hard for the first couple of days to put aside what the 'answer' is and just absorb as much of the local culture as I could.
  • Getting the local team to come up with the solution worked really well. I had prepared my thoughts on some potential options and also the criteria by which they should be assessed. This actually facilitated some really valuable discussion that led to them coming up with their own (and better) solution - great result!
Of course the next challenge is to create the solution (and very quickly) but I feel that the hard work is now done. Good learnings for me that will hopefully mean I can do an even better job next time.......which is probably in this space!

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