Friday, August 19, 2005


Learning before:Tsunami Response

I received a request this week from someone who saw my presentation on AIDS Competence.

She wrote:
"At the end of August, I will be part of a Tsunami Task Force coordinated by The Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF), which Cadbury Schweppes has been a member for the past few years. The Task Force is made up of approximately 20 members from various companies and countries along with some IBLF employees.
The Tsunami Task Force is an IBLF executive leadership initiative to review and define business roles, opportunities and challenges in economic recovery in the tsunami hit communities in India, Thailand and Sri Lanka. We will meet key people and organisations on the ground engaged in recovery activities, talks with business and community leaders and others involved to obtain unique observations on what has happened. We will also look at the role for business in recovery following this and similar disaster situations.

Given all of the work you have done in Africa and beyond, I thought you might be able to give me a few pointers / advice on how to maximise my input / output for this trip."

My response was:

"A few pointers based on my experience
1. The tone of the attachment is good, but go with an attitude of "These people have strengths to respond to the disaster, so what can we learn from them" rather than "how can we help these poor people." You will learn lots and their raised self-esteem will give them confidence to do more.
2. Do a collective after action review after each visit so that you can improve the next one. Look for the benefit of shared lessons learned from a common experience. You'll be surprised how people's perceptions of the same experience differ, and how much learning comes from those differences.
3. Look for opportunities for neighbouring communities to learn from, and help each other.
4. When considering how your companies can help, look for those things which complement what they are already doing to help themselves, and what they define their needs are. It is important to leave the initiative with them rather than make them dependant on outside help which has a tendency to go away after a while.
Hope this helps, enjoy the experience!"

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