One of the most difficult and subtle issues associated with working on a project in some other part of the world is ensuring that you do not try to make their culture more like your own. We need to embrace difference and resist the temptation of comparison and judgement to partner effectively with individuals from different cultures.
As many of you may know from our livestream video program, we were awarded a contract as the emotional intelligence subject matter specialists to partner with the government of Botswana on a very unique project. In a very cool move, the government identified a number of ambitious goals in its Vision 2016 initiative and is now providing skill development to support the population to reach these goals. One of the outcomes we wanted to avoid, of course, was to impose a North American solution. Our solution to attempt to ensure this does not happen is partnership.
Our first task was to listen very closely to the concerns of our clients and do our best to understand those concerns from their perspective. Our EITC consulting psychologist, Dr. Diane Walters excels at listening, not only to the words that are spoken, but for the meaning behind the words, and was really helpful to me to assist me to understand the extent of their concerns. And she was really good at asking the right questions to get all the information that will be most helpful to us in addressing their needs.
Then it took another EITC colleague, Kim Cairns who excels at engaging people in dialogue to conduct the many focus groups and interviews (we did this together) that will really assist us to understand at a deeper level the unique needs of this unique country. We are currently analyzing the large amount of qualitative data while a statistician is analyzing the quantitative data from the surveys we created. We will then separate out the themes and patterns that emerge from the data and present our findings in a summary report/learning needs assessment.
I believe that as long as we continue to partner, listen and take our lead from our project managers in Botswana we will reduce the possibility of imposing ‘our’ EQ solution and increase the possibility of creating a customized Botswana EQ solution that will create the outcomes they are looking for in partnership.
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