Thursday, November 5, 2015

Sworn

JPM was sworn in today. I spoke to a few people and what seemed common across all opinions was the gratefulness for peace.

I interpreted this to mean that no matter who people vote for and what happens thereafter, the only implication is the effect all of this has on oneself.

The public sector feels as such: You can't touch it, hold it, directly influence it, but it has a way of touching you in almost every way possible. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Voted

On the 25th of October, around 8am, for the first time in my life, I voted for my government. It felt envigorating, after all this time doing research and making conclusions about Tanzania's public sector.

Results have yet to be announced as of today, and Zanzibar has nullified her votes due to an unauthorized victory announcement from the opposition, but this is Tanzania's most fiercly contested elections in history.

Whatever the result may be, I cannot help feeling that the next 5 years will be very prosperous for Dar-es-Salaam (not sure about the rest of our country). Whether this prosperity is works to the benefit of our people or not will probably be decided by what kind of administration is voted in over the next day or two.

Mungu ibariki Tanzania.

Monday, October 19, 2015

On private vs. public initiatives

I have generally considered any non-profit organization I come across as being part of the public sector.

However, if I register a non-profit, and use my own capital to run things, regardless of the work that I am doing, is the organization still part of the public sector?

What if we did consider the work I was doing; would my organization be classified differently if I was running a neighborhood charity to fix neighborhood walls?

Should the public-private classification be based on start-up funds, or content, or both, or something else?

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Economist's Styleguide

Just came across this page on The Economist and am left wondering how I never saw it before. My favorite excerpt: "Do not be hectoring or arrogant. Those who disagree with you are not necessarily stupid or insane. Nobody needs to be described as silly: let your analysis show that he is. When you express opinions, do not simply make assertions. The aim is not just to tell readers what you think, but to persuade them; if you use arguments, reasoning and evidence, you may succeed. Go easy on the oughts and shoulds." I was also happy to be reminded that I need to get a copy of Orwell's "Politics and the English Language".

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

On lateral thinking

"In any self-organising system there is a need to escape from a local optimum in order to move towards a more global optimum. The techniques of lateral thinking, such as provocation, are designed to help that change." -- Edward de Bono on Lateral Thinking

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Disruption and stability

It seems unrealistic for any society to have pleasantly smooth beginnings. Disruption seems inevitable in the first few decades of a society that is being built. TZ gets complimented on how "stable" it is. But does this stability come at the risk of complacency and lack of significant progress?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Digital: Internal or external?

I've been pushing my company to run digital comms from within our organization for more than a year now, and so far it has worked really well for us. However, third-party providers haven't stopped asking us to give them that work, and the question of whether to run it internally or externally has occasionally continued to arise at meetings.

Of course, it's more costly to run it from the outside, but also less of a burden on the organization. The most important benefit that I see as running digital comms internally is substance. If content - the very voice of an organization - is being generated from the outside, there is simply no way it can provide 100% of the fabric and turnaround that people and firms who really care about their digital voice/appearance require.

I may need to develop this more fully and say something out loud. I see the tendency to run digital comms externally, and I think it defeats the purpose of saying/doing anything online. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

The theory and practice of ed tech

So much to think about here, but needed to throw this link in here along with the following quote:
“We have not yet become good enough at the kind of pedagogues that make the most of technology; that adding 21st century technologies to 20th century teaching practices will just dilute the effectiveness of teaching.”
This is not news, especially not in Tanzania. But thinking broadly about the situation, here is what will be on my mind for the rest of the day:

  • Why is technological innovation in education surpassing the needs of those who teach and learn today?
  • If technology is made up of tools that support needs, what needs is ed tech supporting?
  • What will it take for pedagogy to adapt practice + content to current tools? Or is this a reverse-logic problem?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Management and talent

Two recent observations:

First, it makes sense to me that a manager should hire/work with staff that have better skills than the manager him/herself. Otherwise, if the manager was better-skilled, then managing would be an unproductive use of time (as opposed to operating).

Second, the hiring tradition in TZ seems to cultivate an opposite scenario, one in which managers are often better-skilled than their supervisees. Getting things done, therefore, is commonly a function of the manager's direct input in operations. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Da Vinci on Time

"In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time." - Leonardo Da Vinci

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Freud on Conservatism

“Conservatism, however, is too often a welcome excuse for lazy minds, loath to adapt themselves to fast changing conditions.” ― Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams

Sunday, June 28, 2015

On ownership of ideas

I return, about 6 months later. No, I didn't forget about my blog, nor the people that may (read: may never) read it. Oh no. What I may have forgotten is how valuable an activity blogging can be. 

Where I work now, time is of the essence. Here's an Edward Said nightmare: We are trying to sell to people who have very little to spend; they need to be in many places at once, and are not as mobile as society may think they are. They are sensitive to change, but are demanding about their aspirations. So when it comes to our products, services and sales routes, we are constantly moving, shifting, trying. 

That leaves me with little time to think and do the things I write about here. 

I used to think this situation was a binary choice and, therefore, a problem. However, I have come to think of the "binary" in a different way: It isn't about time; it's about ideas. 

A friend once told me that I would either spend the rest of my life building someone else's idea, or building my own idea. I now realize that as long as one understands the difference, then one is less likely to be confused about about where most of their time goes. 

So, I have come to terms with building someone else's idea until I can sustainably build my own. At the time time, ideas are nobody's to own. They are just ideas, and they come in frequencies beyond what we can individually comprehend. 

Another way to think of all of this is to understand the difference between ideas that belong to people and ideas that belong to the world. 

As always, this may be continued. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thoughts from MOTO

I attended a MOTO meet up yesterday after a few months. We heard from a new member - Najma - who had written a piece on beliefs, discussed writing and editing, and watched Samaki Mchangani

The discussion on writing and editing was intriguing: Some of us were of the opinion that it is mandatory to go over one's writing and make it perfect by consolidating ideas and throwing unneeded ideas out. Others (me included) were of the opinion that sometimes the most potent way you can express an emotion is in the very moment you pen it down for the first time; any iterations beyond this instance waters the emotion down to suit public convention.

 In the background, a question lingered: Is all of emotion able to be relayed through words?