Monday, 7 November 2011

Life Enriching Learning - Tanzania

Life Enriching Learning  - Tanzania

Well just back from a life enriching experience delivering a programme on behalf of the Commonwealth Secretariat on Work Based Action Learning to the Public Service College in Tanzania.  Professionally I have seen more respect for education and desire for learning, in this, one of the poorest countries in the world, than I see in any of my work in the UK.

Working with the public service sector in a country which is crying out for  leadership to guide its government reform agenda, and is wrestling with the challenge of developing a private sector (without perpetuating exploitation of the nation) is not easy.  However the message of work based action learning was intelligently received.

There is a need to confront some of the known absurdities such as the ministry which is asking for things it does not actually need: secretaries who have to be taught on manual typewriters or to learn shorthand which are redundant in the workplace.  Trainers in working with their Ministries, Departments and Agencies will need to become learning facilitators, coaches, mentors and consultants.

Who is looking ahead to work out what should be done with the thousands of records clerks and administrative staff who in the next few years will be replaced by their bosses’ laptops, electrical supplies and infrastructure willing?  Retraining will be the new training I suggest.  Dare I say to support the provision outsourcing services as a knowledge based export?  If neighbouring Rwanda can do it why not Tanzania? 

Competency Based Training is the buzz right now and I hope it will pay off by providing a platform for assessing the transferable competencies of graduates of the syllabus driven programmes provided over many years gone by. 

Tanzanians do love a syllabus - the ‘P’ for programmed knowledge in Professor Reg Revans terms, but my message was to face the future by encouraging public servants, managers and leaders to focus first on the ‘Q’ for questions, based on the problems they face.  And to write their questions in the first person:
How do I eradicate corruption whilst maintaining the motivation of my staff?
How do I develop the leadership capabilities of my clients and myself?

The answers to the nations problems will not come from one new leader or a change of government.  Nor will the answers come from an existing syllabus, a business school or a professor.  They will come from posing the right questions at the ‘grassroots’ and committing to working on these together.  Theory may help inform the actions taken, and the actions may inform new theory.

It is ironic that Tanzania is one of the wealthiest nations with minerals underground, yet the poorest above it.  Its people are now looking back on 50 years since independence as many African nations now are, thinking “What have we achieved?’  Whilst the socialist experiment of the revered late Julius Nuyere may be considered a failure, no citizen I spoke to would blame this on Mwalimu (‘The Teacher’), but they would blame the implementers of his villagisation policies.  However blame is not the name of the game and looking forward I can see the desire to reform public services, which means that education, training and most of learning are key.

So as times have become tougher in providing learning in the UK it seems there is a market for exporting my skills as an educator and proponent of learning which is based on improving people and organizations and, arrogant as it sounds, most rewardingly I may contribute some small thing to national development.

Maybe in the UK we have become jaundiced about training and education and upset by the fact times have become tougher (visit the villages and forgotten people in the countryside of Mtwara if you want to see tough).   British managers distracted by the hi-touch mode of blackberry/iphone addiction and consequent attention deficit will not study for five days.  They want the educational ‘short cut’ to commodities they call ‘learnings’.  I cringe.   

Oh and there is some learning for the British, which I take from my week in Tanzania:
  • At the start of each day have a different team member summarise the previous day’s events
  • Start each day with a prayer which did work for a mixed faith group
  • Socialise – much learning takes place outside of the classroom (I even learnt how to defend myself against a leopard – just the theory mind you!)
  • End with celebration and the award of certificates which receipients are truly proud of
  • Dedicate five days of your life to learn together, free of distraction.  You certainly don’t get out of Mtwara in a hurry!
In the words of the late Steve Jobs, “It just works”.

Pictures can sometimes say it better …

Dr Richard Hale, 6th February, 2011

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Richard Hale - Learning Organization Article to be Published

I am delighted to announce that I have an article due to published in 2012 in the Learning Organization journal.  This builds on a presentation I gave to the Etisalat Eye on Government Conference in Abu Dhabi earlier this year which focused on the Knowledge Economy.  I will publish the links to this article as soon as it is published but here are the key areas covered:
  • the basis of the Action Learning Question method to support talent and leadership development
  • examples and endorsements from corporate organisational leaders
  • the application of the action learning approach to support the development of a new professional qualification for the outsourcing sector
  • the case for using such approach in the new knowledge economy context where the ability to learn is as important as the content
  • developing intellectual capital in organisations
  • methods for sharing knowledge and learning within and between organisations.

The editorial referee has said ahead of publication:

“This paper has style and while unpretentious in terms of traditional academic content has a very readable yet powerful narrative that takes readers on your experiential 'journey' and culminates in a very appropriate 'conclusion' that gives readers something valuable to take away.  Great work.  

It addresses the notion of Organisational Learning with a some interesting fresh insights even while relying on a true and tested Action Learning approachIt is clear from the sources used that there is a sound and robust knowledge of the field embedded in this paper - refreshing!!!

  It is clear that there is a strong theoretical base to the analyses of the author's practices in facilitating AL (and indeed to the practices themselves)

.  I really enjoyed the narrative style of this paper. I wish more authors would get off their boring academic backsides and started writing like this in a very informative, reader friendly style . The narrative is not just interesting, it is academic, yet flows nicely and paints a great picture about Action Learning in dynamic organizational environments.”

If you would like to discuss with me how to support organisational learning, professional development, talent/leadership  identification & retention contact me on and follow me on twitter @richardhale...

Friday, 7 October 2011

Constructive Review of Development Needs

Richard Hale was recently engaged by JS Wright to support the creation of a Learning and Development plan based on his analysis of needs for this established construction engineering organisation.  This involved interviews with directors, engineers and site visits and presentation to the board.  This has led to him providing ongoing support for the development of cross functional project teams and director level coaching.

Does your organisation need a structured and independent review of development needs of its staff, teams and leaders?  Richard will:
  • gain an understanding of key business strategies and objectives
  • explore learning and development experiences and opportunities with individuals
  • identify strategic development interventions which will support the strategy.

“Richard's brief was to find out what type of learning organisation we were, what the real culture of the company was, and help us identify our learning and development needs.
He held meetings with employees at every level, and across all disciplines of the business. He then produced a report that gave me clarity about where we were with our people development, and recommendations on how to move forward.  He has   an intuitive understanding of people development, and will be retained to help us deliver our future plans.  If you are struggling to see the way forward with your company's people development needs, talk to Richard Hale. He will be able to help you.” 
Marcus Aniol, Managing Director