"How is everyone? This greeting is coming to you from half-way across the world in Botswana!"
The last time we met here was in April this year. I was about to leave for Botswana when I sent the newsletter in
April and planned to resume it when I was due to be back at end-June. As some of you know, I am in Botswana
on the invitation of the Botswana government to share the work of Learning Organization with the public-sector
organizations here and in applying the tools to assist Ministries to understand and deal with the complexities
surrounding the deepest challenges these Ministries face in the country.
What are these challenges?
How do these sound to you?
- Case #1: That 80% of the rainfall in the country flows to neighbouring countries. Today the countries loses 2/3
of the water in its dams (from the 20% rainfall it captures) to evaporation. So the country effectively uses 6% of
its rainfall for itself. To make up for the rest of its uses, it buys water from its neighbours. Crop production is
virtually non-existent and ends up importing 80% of its food consumption needs. This is happening when large
fertile lands are available. All it needs is water for irrigation. Today the county lives with constant fear that lack
of water would besiege and thwart the economic progress of the country.
- Case #2: That while tons of money have been poured in making agriculture a leading productive sector of the
country but it has not budged from its low tally of 2% contribution to GDP for the past thirty years. In fact
demands on the government to pump more resources are just becoming worse. Why is it not responding to
- Case #3: The medical profession has been chasing the elusive dream of curing the nation and the continent of
its grave ills particularly HIV/AIDs which has spread in a region where nearly 15 million people are estimated to
carry the virus -- 38 percent of the world's total. The national death rate fell from the highest in the world, but
only to second-highest, behind AIDS-ravaged Swaziland. Men and women in Botswana continued to contract
HIV faster than almost anywhere else on Earth. Except, the harder the medical profession is pushing, the
harder the "system" seems to be pushing them back finding themselves marginalized into believing that theirs is
a forgotten job. Yet, interestingly HIV seems to be a function of genders losing confidence in itself to grow and
support relations with the opposite gender. So the population risks exposing itself to loose and multiple
relations over time. Yes, it may be a medical profession's nightmare. But the cause of the problem exists
somewhere else distant in time and space; one mired by family and community network systems that has
pushed "the couple" virtually to a non-existent entity within the community. The couple grows up not learning
and appreciating the differing needs of the opposite gender and having ways to have productive conversations
about such things to grow and change one's ways. Having multiple relations 'secretly (under covers)' is the
genders way of 'fighting back' at the community on its tight-lipped (not growing up) ways to sexual relations and
- And so on ...
These are just some of the challenges. As the Ministries open their doors to this work, we see more challenges
unfold using the lenses of this work that had remain hidden otherwise but had continued to sap the
organizations' resources. The work using the tools of Learning Organization has been exciting as it helps
participants understand the realities that are allowing these challenges to become entrenched in one's life.
Inevitably each time, as the team uncovers the systemic structure surrounding the challenges, the team
undergoes a shift in their outlooks about the challenge and begins on a journey of carefully turning the
challenge around to the success that had been eluding them.
My time in Botswana is now extended till end August. This is to facilitate the government in preparing for their
country's seven-year national development plans. This programme is now underway and a concerted effort is
happening for public and private sector organizations to come together in identifying the plans that the country
will focus in the coming years before the plans are tabled in Parliament in November. However bringing persons
together and not learning the systemic implications of our challenges does not ensure systemic interventions
would happen (see the file on NDP10 lessons in the above link).
It certainly is heartening to see the tools of Learning Organization lend itself a precise way of helping teams
work on interventions of highest leverage. So what happened to the story on water availability in the country?
The country's plans originally included building eight dams in the country to increase its water collection
capacity. Through using the tools, the planners realized that more so than building dam, the country needed to
focus on building canals / drainages that would capture as much of the storm water (that would increase water
to the dams by 5x) and to seal off the dam evaporation (inevitably this would save 3x times more water the dams
yield today). Not doing so helps to explain the low yield of the dams so far.
This would save the country billions of dollars and yet increase water availability in the country by 15x! Seeing
as such the government conserve water also in turn encourages citizens to turn wastes (water, sewage, fall
leaves and shredded trees) into rich organic content suited for agriculture. This is enough to provide for a
thriving crop production in the country eliminating all need to buy water and food and yet stimulate a productive
workforce in the economy. The potential to reverse the drought conditions was also there. The crowd listened
with bated anticipation as they saw the systemic structure and they absolutely loved what it helped them to see.
Given these programmes, the LOPN programmes for the months of July and August have been suspended till
further notice. The workshop dates in September will stand as they are. We apologize for not being able to
inform you of the changes earlier. Access to the internet was limited from late June. These have now been
restored and broadcasts would be more regular.
Love to hear your reactions to what you see here on the eGroup.
Do feel free to pass this on to anyone you think would like to hear about these.
2008 LOPN NEWS!
Check out the network's programmes in the coming months here. Kindly note, the LOPN programmes for the
months of July and August have been suspended till further notice. The workshop dates in September will stand
as they are.
2008 COMMUNITY EVENTS AND CONFERENCES:
11th IAF (international Association of Facilitators) Asia Facilitator Conference, Kuching, Sarawak August 27-28,
2008. Registration in May. Details later.
Singapore Facilitator Conference (joint conference between LOPN, FNS and ODG) scheduled on Nov 11-14,
2008 (Tues-Fri). More details later.
Employment connections, click here.
2008 GLOBAL SOCIETY FOR ORGANIZATIONAL LEARNING (SoL) AND RELATED GROUPS
|SOCIETY FOR ORGANIZATIONAL LEARNING (SoL Global) DATES:|
"For a long time I had felt like a mouse on a corporate treadmill and I was curious to find out how the programmes
was going to provide me with some new insights and fresh perspectives. As the days unfolded, I thought the
program was pleasant, relaxing and a good opportunity to recharge the battery. It wasn't until I came home,
however, when it suddenly dawned on me that I had subtly changed. It was as if in this moment of stillness in
Vermont, I had changed a lens on my mental camera and was looking at the world in a different way. As if in a
moment of connection with life and the universe, I finally understood that our greatest power to change the world
lies in our power to see beyond the veil."
- Recent Participant
"Enhancing our capacity for generative conversation, especially in dealing with highly contentious issues, is vital in
building learning organizations. The work of Action Design is an essential foundation in building this capacity."
- Peter Senge, Society for Organizational Learning.
"The Action Design Institute is among the most powerful developmental experiences I've had in my career. I now
have tools and approaches to help me understand dilemmas, appreciate the perspective of others and know how
to help when the conversation appears stuck. - Global Quality Manager, BP Solar. .... "I really enjoyed the Action
Design workshops when I took them but I also noticed that they had a 'time release' quality in my life. It's been a
gradual process but I have actually caught myself seeing things very differently." - An Organizational Development
Synergy at Work: Gathering Momentum for Meaningful Performance, Nov 17-19, 2008 (Mon-Wed)
Betty Sue Flowers, Adam Kahane, Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Atul Gawande, Peter Senge
From launching a new operations center in record time to eliminating polio worldwide, how can groups come
together to create new realities rather than replicate the status quo? Join Pegauss at this year's conference to
explore what distinguishes a transcendent performance from a merely excellent one—and how we can work
together to produce an outcome greater than the sum of our individual contributions.
Download the conference flyer for more details.
|Aug 1, 2008 (Fri)