Mar(k): Travel, Hiking, and "Doing Good"

musings on our life of travel and volunteering

“Management by Yellow Sticky”

with 2 comments

One of the things that VSO taught us prior to coming to Ghana, was to employ various techniques using what is known as “Participatory Approaches”.  Now, this was of great interest to us, because, in our former lives, we lived, ate and breathed the standard development, review and presentation of information via the PowerPoint Format.  In fact, both of us are pretty much PowerPoint Whizzes.

The Shox provide update on OD process to RUMNET staff

The Shox in action

However, here in Ghana, and in the developing world in general – such formats are not so ideal.  They can certainly be an almost guaranteed way to send an audience to sleep (and many would argue that occurs in the developed world already!).  So different, more engaging techniques need to be used.

Mark and Bernice work together on prioritising the action items

Mark and Bernice

For professionals like schoolteachers, this is not news – teachers regularly employ such techniques daily to keep the children interested in learning.  However, for us, the information was new, and we were eager to employ some of our newly acquired skills.  This opportunity was available to us as part of our placement with RUMNET, as we had to conduct an Organisational Assessment on the organisation.  We duly interviewed, compiled into spreadsheets, analysed, and distilled the resulting recommendations into a list of “things that needed doing”.  What we THEN needed to do, was present this information to the staff of RUMNET in an engaging way, and get them to prioritise the recommendations themselves, so that they would take “ownership” of the result.

RUMNET staff review OD priorities

RUMNET staff review OD priorities

To do this, we employed what we are calling “management by yellow sticky”.  We wrote down each recommendation on a yellow sticky, and distributed the stickies to the three RUMNET staff.  There is a full length mirror in the office, so that served as our “sticking point”.  Each person was asked to go up and place their stickies in one of three areas:  the higher up on the mirror they were placed, the sooner (more urgent) the action needed to be taken.  So the three areas were:

  • Top portion:  Short Term Action Required – immediate to 3 months time
  • Mid portion:  Medium Term Action Required – 3 to 6 months time
  • Lower portion:  Longer Term Action Required – 6 months +

Once everyone had distributed their stickies, we ensured group consensus that they were all in the right general area.  We then got them to prioritise within each section as to what needed to be actioned when, and by whom.   Again, consensus was reached, and the Shox wrote up the results.

Coming out of this initiative was an agreed action item, which is to meet monthly to update where we are at with “the list”, and discuss the initiatives that were undertaken that month.  A small achievement, but one we are proud of!


Written by Mar(k)

April 1, 2010 at 9:53 am

2 Responses

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  1. Mark and Mar,
    This “Participatory Approaches” looks similar to the participatory rural appraisal (PRA) techniques used by NGOs. PRA can be traced to the activist adult education methods of Paulo Freire of Brazil. Phillipines NGOs used similar approach to organize people for power; resulting in the successful ousting of President Marcos without a shot being fired.


    April 3, 2010 at 8:02 am

    • Well, we didn’t manage to get rid of a dictator, but we DID manage to get a work plan together! small steps!!! ; )

      Mar Knox

      April 6, 2010 at 11:04 am

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