It is understood in the world of international consulting that a professional's work can be either long-term or short-term. This distinction is not widely understood in the non-international business world, so a few words on consulting might be informative. Terminology is part of the problem of understanding. If the term "consulting" is equated with "contracting," some of the confusion dissipates.
Long-term international development consulting assignments are defined as being of at least one year. Usually, a long-term assignment is for three years during which the project team arrives in the host country, sets up an office, hires local staff, implements the project, and works until the project is completed. Often, a project is extended for an additional number of years. Short-term assignments are defined as those with durations of less than one year. It is not unusual for a short-term consultant to make multiple month-long visits during a single and successive years to assist in the implementation of a specific project. Some international short-term consulting assignments are single interventions similar to the norm in domestic business consulting.
All of my international assignments have been long-term. I am an independent international consultant who is hired by consulting firms (contractors) to implement long-term contracts in the global arena. Between long-term assignments, I work as a short-term consultant and pursue private business interests.
My long-term international consulting skills are augmented by my short-term domestic assignments in which I expand my areas of experience and interest. I may support long-term international work by short-term assignments in which I write contract proposals or do international program design. Alternately, I may branch out into completely new areas such as internet web design, internet business development, art gallery management and business development, or any opportunities of interest to me that I create or which come my way. The bridge between my international management career and my earlier academic career was several years in which I was a research consultant and designed research projects in a wide variety of medical and engineering disciplines.
Long-term international assignments require management skills and technical knowledge. They also require great flexibility, imagination, cultural sensitivity, patience, and persistence. Also required are a high tolerance of ambiguity, an ability to look at the world from very different perspectives, a set of practical skills rooted in a wide variety of academic disciplines, and a willingness and ability to do whatever is necessary and to learn whatever is necessary to accomplish the objectives of the contract.
While my experience and skills are most readily understood and appreciated by international consulting organizations, they are equally applicable to any business start-up or expansion into new product or market areas. Wherever a combination of experience, technical skills, fresh insights, and pragmatism are required, an international consultant can be of great service.
When used in an international context, the term "development" assumes a specialized meaning. In order to understand my work, this specialized meaning must be discussed.
International development programs are tied to the foreign policy of donor countries and to the policy objectives of international donors such as the United Nations and international non-governmental organizations. Whatever the policy base of international development programs, the objectives of such programs are to assist countries that need help in addressing the economic, political, social, quality of life, environmental issues, and problems with which they are confronted. Some countries need help in participating in the industrial and post-industrial revolutions which enable technically advanced societies to address the usual issues of human existence. Other countries need assistance in recovering from economic collapse. In either case, development programs assist countries in acquiring the skills and making policy changes necessary for the implementation of changes and reforms in various aspects of the ways in which they conduct their affairs.
Development programs are usually implemented through projects managed under contract by international consulting firms. Such project implementation is the substance of my professional work.
My Curriculum Vitae presents a summary of my work. This is the summary of a somewhat atypical international development career. More than is true for most international consulting professionals, my experience covers a wide range of technical areas: economic development, information technology, health care service delivery, social service delivery, local government, national policy reform, agricultural development, social marketing, and business development. I have designed programs and projects. I have implemented projects. I have salvaged failing projects. In the process of acquiring and expanding my experience, I have developed a set of management skills and insights that prepare me for whatever opportunities I create or offer themselves to me.
I have been through the entire process of founding an internet business from the inception of the idea through its presentation to many venture capital firms to start-up and establishment. The $12 million in alpha funding we raised from three VC firms, one from San Diego and two from Silicon Valley, was sizeable, even at the height of e-commerce funding.
In my own position as acting general manager, I worked with the corporation's attorneys in Silicon Valley on matters relating to the incorporation of the business, share allocation and vesting, and all other legal matters pertaining to a VC-funded business start-up. I worked with the VC's attorneys in San Diego on matters of concern to the VC investors in the start-up, and selected a Los Angeles law firm to handle day-to-day legal issues concerning the conduct of business. In doing this work, I had swift and practical training in the legal issues important to e-commerce, and the national policy issues which drive or respond to e-commerce legal issues.
I selected an enterprise bank into which the initial funding was deposited, working out a money management plan, obtaining letters of credit, and dealing with the financial issues which come up when a young business without the prospect of a profit for years to come seeks to conduct normal business transactions. Any national e-commerce policy must take into account financial and banking policy, and I have a practical working knowledge of the issues. The same is true of insurance requirements for e-commerce and policy issues surrounding them. Although e-commerce has been around for several years now, the insurance needs and questions are still somewhat new, and a lot of work went into determining what were our insurance needs and which companies were prepared to meet them.
There are a myriad of details in starting and conducting e-commerce, many or most of them having legal and policy implications which must be considered in developing national and international e-commerce policies. I have a working knowledge of these from the perspective of a businessman dealing with the issues in the process of establishing an internet business.
Toward the end of my time with Mediafloor, I began working with individuals and groups in California, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Bangkok who were interested in starting their own internet businesses or consulting and training businesses that had internet start-ups as their intended clients. In these activities, I learned a considerable amount about the status and prospects of e-commerce in Asia, about the motivations of potential internet business founders, about the skills usually lacking (business planning, research, management and administrative skills). I have continued to consult on internet business for small businesses in Nepal, and in Armenia I am frequently asked to discuss e-commerce possibilities in this country. The experience I gained with Mediafloor makes it possible for me to assess skills and interest and commitment and e-commerce environment. This same experience makes it possible for me to address the myriad of issues involved in the founding of an internet business, the conduct of e-commerce, and the legal and regulatory requirements for the nurturing of successful e-commerce.
Although national economic analysis has never been the primary focus of my work since research for my Master of Arts degree thesis, it has often played a significant supporting role.
In Armenia, my work requires the development of information systems which provide data necessary for policy decisions on the financing of and budgeting for social service and health care service delivery, on the reform of social insurance, and on the introduction of national health insurance. This financial analysis for policy formulation requires a basic analysis of the Armenian economy so as to estimate economic productivity, economic growth potential, and projected revenue potential.
My e-commerce experience certainly required knowledge of the economy in which potential markets for internet business existed.
In Nepal, part of my mandate was to engender the economic empowerment of village women. In order to accomplish the necessary work toward this objective, I had to analyze the Nepali economy so as to determine what economic development opportunities were available to and feasible for women in rural Nepal. In addition, I had to explore the topic of micro-financing and cooperative financial systems so as to devise appropriate mechanisms. My work in this area was recognized when I was subsequently asked to participate in the design of a women's economic development program for Nepal.
In the Egyptian local development project, the primary objective was to encourage policy changes by the Ministry of Finance which would enable local governments to determine water and wastewater user charges. Work toward this objective not only included policy development with the Ministry of Finance, but also assistance to individual governorates in the assessment of the water needs for economic development, the analysis of operation and maintenance costs, and an analysis of the local economies so as to determine the rates appropriate to the economic and political conditions. The practical requirements of the tasks took me from pure economic analysis back to the older discipline of political economy.
My first assignment as an international management consultant was in management information systems (MIS). Since then, almost every assignment I have received has been based upon my MIS experience or its information technology (IT) foundation.
My work at the Microelectronics Center of North Carolina provided me with a working knowledge of the theoretical basis of IT, as well as a working knowledge of applied microelectronics research, microchip design and manufacture, programming languages and operating systems, and the legal and business parameters of IT.
In my international development work, I have worked with a wide variety of MIS and IT circumstances, environments, and scale. To date, my work in Armenia is the most comprehensive, encompassing national social service and public health management information systems, national statistics work, national pension and unemployment information systems, national social and health insurance information systems, and national civil registry information systems. My work in Armenia includes the widest variety of solutions to the problems of data transfer and communications.
Earlier work in Egypt required my directing the development of bilingual relational data bases in health care service delivery, in national population policy, in water and waste water engineering, and in engineering operations and maintenance. Before this, I assessed health care service delivery and training information system and technology needs throughout North Africa and the Middle East.
I have managed two development projects designed to assist local governments in the conduct of their business.
In Nepal, my project was implemented in districts and villages, the two levels of government below the national level. The names of the local governing bodies with which I worked are informative and indicative of the fact that these bodies in Nepal have functions not usually associated with the English meaning of the terms "district" and "village." Immediately below the national government in Nepal are districts, and districts are governed by "District Development Committees." Below the districts are the villages, and villages are governed by "Village Development Committees." What the names of the governing bodies signify is the fact that, in addition to the usual responsibilities of local government, these bodies are responsible for the economic and social development of their regions.
My work, as a consequence, went far beyond training in the norms and practices of democratic government. It focused upon training and other exercises in economic analysis, development planning, development project design and evaluation, project implementation, consensus building, and financial accounting. In addition to working with elected officials, my project worked with line ministry officials in helping them to work in the context of a democratic society and not as they had functioned before 1990 as representatives of an authoritarian government. My project also worked with citizens, teaching them how democracy and participatory decision-making worked, teaching them that they could and should assume responsibility for their own development, and teaching them how they could decide their own development priorities and go about implementing their development plans. This work required all of the skills and experience I could bring to the task. The supervising national body for my project was the Ministry of Local Development. The Minister of Local Development, the Minister of Finance, the Secretary of the National Planning Commission, the president of the national District Development Committee Association, and chairmen of the participating District Development Committees all sent letters to the United States Ambassador and to the Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development requesting that my work be extended by an additional six years and expanded to all districts of Nepal. This was evidence that my work was successful in meeting the needs of the people and government of Nepal.
In Egypt, my local government work was with the governors of all Egyptian governorates, the level of government immediately below the national level. The project was designed to work with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Local Government, encouraging these two ministries to delegate some of their centralized authority to governors for the purpose of enabling the governors to make decisions locally in matters relating to the rates charged for use of public services, particularly water and waste water. At the governorate level, my project helped governors and their advisors analyze local needs and formulate local plans to meet these needs.
My first job upon receiving my undergraduate degree was much concerned with international logistics. I was the supply officer for the United States Navy Middle East Force flagship. An important part of my job was to coordinate the necessary resupply of food, parts, and equipment with the movements of the flagship and the schedule of commercial and military supply ships.
In the management of international development projects, procurement and logistics play a minor role, but a necessary one. I have dealt with general logistical matters in a variety of customs clearance situations. Computer equipment and peripherals usually cause the greatest problems with which I have had to cope, although customs clearance problems and air transport problems can arise quite unexpectedly at any time.
International management is an exhilarating professional challenge and learning opportunity. As an executive in an international setting or managing international business activities, I can make best use of my experience, knowledge, skills, and interests. In a purely domestic setting, I can bring the essential comprehensiveness of my international work to bear upon domestic management issues, thereby adding another dimension of experience to the work at hand--global experience for working within a global economy.
First and foremost, I am a manager. I manage human, financial, and technical resources so as to achieve agreed-upon tasks and objectives in the most effective and efficient ways possible. My very first job upon receiving an undergraduate degree was managing a forty member division responsible for supply, financial, and service operations in an international setting. As a university teacher, I managed the learning process for students who were interested in the courses I taught. As an international development manager, I have been responsible for all aspects of development program and project design and implementation. As I wrote in my welcome to this website, my responsibilities have included the combined functions of chief executive officer, chief operating officer, chief technical officer, and chief administrative officer.
My management style is participatory. This choice is not based upon management theory, although concepts such as "total quality management" support my style. My participatory management style is based upon two pragmatic considerations. The first is that, as a manager of international development projects, my success is directly related to the willing cooperation of host country governments and personnel. Any hint of an authoritarian style would lead immediately to charges of "imperialism" or "colonialism" and thereby doom the project. The second consideration is that many of the problems development projects seek to overcome are the result of autocratic, paternalistic, or authoritarian management practices. Since such practices led to the problem, they really cannot lead to solutions to the problems. Only through participatory decision-making can host country officials and citizens agree enthusiastically to change practices, thought patterns, concepts, and beliefs. Only through participatory decision-making can new approaches to economic development be undertaken with any hope of success. Only through participatory decision-making can administrative and political reform measures be agreed to and implemented. Only through participatory decision-making can a foreign advisor help a minister of government to formulate new policies. The development professional does not have to live with the consequences of his actions or advice, but host country nationals do. Basic moral considerations require the participation in decision-making by the people who will live with the consequences of the decisions. This participation also is the most effective way of deciding upon and implementing effective programs of change. There is a third factor that influences my participatory management style: I have not the arrogance to be an autocrat. I know that when I arrive at a new assignment in a new environment, I have much to learn from the people I begin working with before I am in a position to manage anything effectively and efficiently. A participatory style makes it possible for me to manage while I learn, learn while I manage.
Each new international assignment is a new challenge for me. Almost everything is new: new problems; new technical areas; new personnel; new working environments; new countries with all the cultural, economic, social, political, and historical parameters this implies. I must learn what needs to be done quickly and comprehensively, and get on with the job. Each new assignment adds to my general store of knowledge and experience, which I then bring to bear upon whatever comes next. Each new assignment prepares me ever more thoroughly for the next start-up, the next project, the next consulting assignment, the next adventure.
You cannot do just one thing. This truism applies to all areas of human endeavor, for each action has anticipated and unanticipated consequences. In the international development profession, you also cannot know just one thing. Single answer solutions to complex problems simply do not work.
The problems of development are always complex, as are their solutions. What is required of the development professional is a multidisciplined approach to problem solving. My own multidisciplined approach and experience is tied to my multiple interests, my academic experience, and my worldwide experience in the business of international development. History must form the base of development work, because it is difficult to know what to change if you do not know what exists and why it exists the way it does. To history, you really must add some degree of knowledge of economics, sociology, anthropology, political science, psychology, philosophy, religion, arts and culture. For development work plans to be devised, the professional must not only know about successful and unsuccessful models, program designs, and project objectives. The professional must also know how a society functions within its historical and cultural context. The professional must know what motivates people to act to accept or to resist change.
The development professional must bring to bear to the preparation of a project work plan and to its implementation a comprehensive set of management tools and techniques. This set includes operations research, systems analysis, social marketing consensus building, motivational and leadership skills, and training techniques. This latter tool is ultimately the most important because the development professional is first and foremost a teacher. Not a teacher as a font of all knowledge and wisdom, but as a person who helps others learn for themselves.
All of the disciplines, which a development professional has, come together in the participatory training exercise which is a development project. The most successful and longest lasting development work is the transfer of skills.
All of my international development work has been national in scope.
My work in Armenia focuses upon the improvement of the entire national social service delivery and national health care service delivery systems. I assist in national policy matters, in the optimization of national scale programs, in the development of national scale information and communication systems, and in the improvement of local service and health care delivery facilities. I also provide technical assistance in national statistics (National Statistics Service) and civil registry (Ministry of Justice) programs, and much of my work must be done in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and with the Ministry of State Revenues.
My primary work in Nepal was to devise ways in which the national policy of democratic government could be explained and made functional at all levels of local government. The policies and principles of democratic decision making also had to be explained and implemented throughout the nation at the citizen level, and I had to devise a national program through which this could be done. My work was recognized when the Government of Nepal asked the American government to extend my work for an additional six years.
In my work for the Egyptian National Population Council, my responsibilities included not only the design of a national scale bilingual health information system, but in the implementation of the system in population offices and family planning clinics throughout Egypt. This work was done in conjunction with the Ministry of Health Family Planning Division.
In my local development work in Egypt, the work for which I was responsible covered all Egyptian governorates and economic regions.
My work in North Africa and the Middle East directed toward the improvement of medical and paramedical training in support of family planning was for national programs.
Everywhere I have worked, my international development career has been national in scope, requiring national situational analysis, national policy development, national planning, and national implementation.
Operations research has been a fundamental component throughout my business career.
In working as an advisor at the ministerial levels of government on policy development, systems improvement, or optimization of service delivery, I could not begin to make any useful recommendations until I knew how things worked in that ministry or in that country. This meant that I had to conduct operations research quickly and thoroughly.
Rapid operations research was also required in project implementation of every kind. In projects focused upon local government, I had to learn through research how local governments operated at their levels and in relation to the national administrative structures. In health care service delivery projects, I had to learn through research how health facilities operated and were managed at every level, and how local operations were related to national administrative structures. I also had to learn, through research, how the national pharmaceutical industries operated within the overall national health care system.
Since most of my international assignments have included management information systems, operations research has been essential. Without it, I would never have been able to determine who needed or used what information for what purposes at what time. Without such determinations, it would have been impossible for me to devise or improve information systems.
My e-commerce experience required accelerated research into the operations of internet businesses of all kinds.
My work in public health has been concerned with the information systems required to manage national public health programs and to provide appropriate data for policy formulation.
In Armenia, my information systems work is in support of a complete redesign of health care service delivery and the optimization of the use of existing personnel and facilities. My work is with the Ministry of Health, the National Health Institute, and the State Health Agency. Each of these entities has its own functions, responsibilities, and information requirements. The Ministry is the policy formulation body, and its information needs must support this work. The National Health Institute is responsible for the training and licensing of health professionals and all of Armenia's health care service delivery facilities, and its information needs reflect these responsibilities. The State Health Agency is responsible for the financing of all health care facilities in Armenia, over seven hundred hospitals, polyclinics, and other service delivery facilities. Its information needs are for financial administration and the management of budget allocations from the national government. In addition, the Government of Armenia intends to design and implement a system of national health insurance, and my work anticipates the financial and reporting data requirements of this insurance program.
In Egypt, one of my projects was to reorganize and upgrade the information systems of the National Population Council in Cairo, and in the branches of the Council in the governorates. This particular activity was part of a larger project with the Ministry of Health designed to improve the delivery of family planning services and the supply of pharmaceuticals necessary for this improvement. My information system work covered both the specific and general aspects of the overall population project.
An earlier public health project in which I participated also focused upon family planning. My role was to assess the health information systems of the North African and Middle Eastern governments participating in the project. The focus of the desired improvements was family planning service delivery, and in the training systems which supported improved service delivery by medical and para-medical workers.
All of my international transfer of technology experience has been at the highest levels of host country governments and administration.
In my current work in Armenia, I meet weekly with the Minister of Social Security, the Minister of Health, Minister of Justice, deputy ministers, the head of Armenia's Social Insurance Fund, the head of the State Health Agency, and the head of the Armenian National Statistics Service. I also, on occasion, meet with the most senior of officials in the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of State Revenues. The purpose of these meetings is to help clarify policy, legal issues, draft legislation, and draft implementation plans for all of the initiatives being taken by the Government of Armenia in its comprehensive activities that are designed to reform and improve the delivery of all government social protection services (pensions, family benefits, unemployment benefits, etc.) and all health care delivery services. The Armenian Social Transition project is the most comprehensive social transition program in the former Soviet Union funded by USAID. This very comprehensiveness requires the greatest care in policy formulation and the integration of a wide range of initiatives by many branches of government.
My earlier work in Egypt and Nepal was equally comprehensive and at an equally high level of government. In Egypt, over the years I have worked closely with the ministers of Finance, Local Government, Social Affairs, Health, and the head of the National Population Council. In the Egyptian Local Government II project, in which I served as Deputy Chief of Party, I assisted the Technical Secretariat of an Inter-ministerial Local Government Committee (ministries of Finance, Local Government, Social Affairs) in its work on policy changes which would give Egypt's governors (with all of whom I also worked) more authority in financial matters dealing with water and waste water charges and other issues of interest to the governors but which required policy changes and enabling legislation. In the health and population area, I assisted in the design of information systems supportive of population policy decisions and for the improvement of national family planning service delivery.
In Nepal, I worked closely with the Minister of Local Development and his deputies in training local government elected officials at the district and village levels in the workings of democratic government. In this work, I also attended meetings every month or two with Nepal's Prime Minister and with the President of Nepal's National Planning Commission. The essence of the project was to explain the policy and implementation of democratic decision making rules, regulations, and processes to local government elected officials as well as local representatives of line ministries. Equally important to the project was the communication of democratic norms and participation to the voters of Nepal.
In my early efforts in international health information systems, I worked with the Ministers of Health and their deputies in Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey. The objective of this work was to support family planning policies and policy development by providing information systems designs that made possible better training and mobilization of health care professionals at all levels for effective family planning and maternal-child care service delivery.
Program Design is a specialized term in international development. Each international donor organization has overall objectives for its work in each country in which it operates. These overall objectives are contained in its "mission statement" or some similar term. In order to be successful in its "country mission," the donor organization devises a country strategy. The strategic objectives are intended to make possible the realization of a country mission's objective. Programs are designed so that strategic objectives can be achieved. Under programs come individual development projects that are designed as components of the programs that should lead to the realization of the strategic objectives which will make the organization successful in achieving its country mission.
Program Design, therefore, is a very important undertaking for a donor organization. It forms the bridge between theory and practice, between what the donor organization would like to accomplish in a given country and the actual work undertaken by the development professionals who work in projects with host country officials and citizens.
Because of my work in Nepal in the area of women's empowerment, I was asked to participate in the design of a women's economic development program for Nepal. It was my practical and successful experience in designing and implementing pilot women's economic development activities which was wanted in the design of the program.
Project implementation is the term used to describe the actual work done by international development professionals. Each international donor organization has overall objectives for its work in each country in which it operates. These overall objectives are contained in its "mission statement" or some similar term. In order to be successful in its "country mission," the donor organization devises a country strategy. The strategic objectives are intended to make possible the realization of a country mission's objectives. Programs are designed so that strategic objectives can be achieved. Under programs come individual development projects which are designed as components of the programs that should lead to the realization of the strategic objectives which will make the organization successful in achieving its country mission.
Project implementation, therefore, is the essential work required by a donor organization so that its mission can be achieved. It is the actual work undertaken by the development professionals who work in projects with host country officials and citizens.
Project implementation includes work plan design, management, monitoring and evaluation, reporting, accounting, human resource management, diplomacy, training, resource management, patience, imagination, luck, the ability to function in ambiguous situations, and the ability to please both the donor organization and host country government. This has been my work for over twenty-five years.
Project implementation in international development work is a specialized term, but it is analogous to project management in conventional business terms. The activities, skills required for its management, and the problems which must be overcome are essentially the same.
All of my international work has required a rapid assessment of the circumstances in which the various projects were to be implemented. The assessment had to be rapid because of contract demands for the delivery of work plans within a three month period. This has never been an easy task, for development work requires changes in the behavioral patterns of an entire society, or of an entire branch of government administration. In order to design a work plan which had a chance of leading to the desired changes, I had first to decide what was the prevailing situation, what were the objectives of the project, what changes were required, what changes were acceptable to host country governments and bureaucracies, what changes were acceptable to individuals and individual organizations. Answers to all these questions had to be found quickly, and the answers had to reflect reality.
Rapid assessment draws upon my theoretical and practical knowledge, my technical knowledge, my management experience, and my skills in operations research, systems analysis, economic analysis, political analysis, behavioral analysis, cultural analysis, and sociological analysis.
There are professional techniques for rapid assessment used in designing national scale development projects. These techniques involve a system of questions and research teams, and are small projects in themselves. A development project manager with a work plan to deliver within a short span of time has to conduct a truly rapid and meaningful assessment, combining science, method, art, and intuition.
These same skills of making truly rapid and meaningful assessments are also required of a management consultant working for a new client or on a new assignment. Experience is the key, and my career to date has provided a considerable amount of successful experience.
Social Marketing, when used in the context of international development, refers to the attempt to convince the citizens of the host country to adopt behavioral changes in order that host country policy objectives can be realized. Often, the realization of desired policy objectives require the social acceptance of changes in behavioral patterns and belief patterns deeply ingrained in the culture. Changes are required because the old system, the old practices, the old beliefs, the old values are no longer functioning in a way that can cope with new realities or new problems.
Social marketing, then, is not commercial marketing. It can make use of commercial marketing tools and techniques, but what is being "sold' is not a product or a minor behavioral change. The objective of social marketing in the international development context usually seeks to change deeply ingrained social behavior, belief systems, or political expectations. Examples of social marketing campaigns include the adoption of family planning in traditional societies, the practice of democracy in formerly authoritarian societies, the adoption of sanitary practices in societies which do not relate disease to poor sanitation, the adoption of measures which prevent sexually transmitted diseases, the acceptance of social insurance and health insurance employee contributions in societies which expect social and health services free from the state.
All of my international development work has required social marketing. In my e-commerce experience, I learned that much of my international social marketing experience was applicable in a business context.
Strategic and tactical thinking is not unusual in the conduct of business and government. Such thinking is an essential part of international development work, complicated by the fact that behavioral and cultural changes on a national scale are usually part of the development objectives.
The international development professional works closely with host country counterparts in order to design appropriate and culturally sensitive strategies and tactics which can lead to the successful outcome of project and program activities. The health, happiness, and economic wellbeing of human beings are at stake, and development professionals must always be aware of all likely consequences of their activities.
In all of my development work, I have never let pressures of the moment cloud my vision of the lives of the intended beneficiaries of my work. The strategies and tactics I have adopted in each project have been worked out with the full cooperation of host country counterparts and staff, all of whom have to live with the consequences of development activities.
Most of my international experience has required comprehensive systems analysis. This is true in the technical sense inherent in terms such as management information systems and health information systems. It is also true in the analysis of social systems, cultural systems, political systems, administrative systems, and other aspects of development problems and their solutions which depend upon an accurate understanding of the various systems involved.
In my academic days, when I was investigating agricultural development, I had to come to an understanding of the various systems involved: agricultural practices, agricultural economics, environmental systems, social systems, political systems, and all the other systems that impact upon agricultural development and are affected by it or by lack of it.
Even my early research work in the history of science in Europe and Asia dealt with systems: systems of belief, economic systems, administrative systems, financial systems, markets, international trade systems, educational systems, and all the other systems that required analysis before an understanding of specific aspects of the history of science and technology could be understood.
My professional work of one kind or another, at one time or another, in one place or another, always has required systems analysis. Systems analysis in an integral part of my approach to any professional undertaking.
International development work is planned technology transfer in the global social, political, and economic arena. Technology transfer must be thought of not only in the literal sense of providing tools and devices made by engineering and manufacturing activities. Technology transfer also includes the dissemination of management techniques and tools, training techniques, administrative and accounting systems, and the knowledge of how to use things to accomplish economic, political, or social objectives. Given ever-present budget restrictions, the transfer of technology must also be cost-effective. This constraint means that great care and imagination must go into the design of specific transfer activities once the specific technical needs are determined. Unlike engineering contracts which are quite specific, for example, an international development contract is a general document for which a work plan is developed once a team has been assembled in the field. The technology needs assessment and activity design must be accomplished almost simultaneously.
Technology transfer, when considered in this comprehensive sense, is a truly demanding, exciting, and rewarding activity. It is what I have been doing throughout my international development career.
The same comprehensive approach and skill set required in the transfer of technology in the international development context are applicable in the transfer of technology in the corporate or business sense of building new physical manufacturing and production facilities, improving the efficiency of existing facilities, and in improving management skills and performance. The applicability of international development transfer of technology skills to business activities is particularly true in the transfer of business technologies across international borders.
Successful international development work is, in essence, an exercise in participatory training.
Participatory training has been an essential component of all development projects in which I have been involved. In some cases, the company for which I worked was in the business of providing participatory training. In other cases, I incorporated participatory training into the work plan. In all cases, participatory training accounted for whatever success was credited to the project and to whatever lasted after the project ended.
When host country nationals analyze their own problems and devise their own solutions, they not only feel a sense of ownership and pride in what they have accomplished, but they have also learned how to participate in democratic decision making and consensus building. This process is that of participatory training. Applied to management theory, participatory training is a component of total quality management and other approaches to management development and management decision making.
I am a firm believer in and practitioner of participatory training. I have used participatory training in all of my international development work, in building an internet business, in skills-based training of all sorts, in computer-based training, and in a different form in my university teaching.
I was asked on two occasions to take charge of failing projects or moribund initiatives.
In Nepal, I replaced a Chief of Party who had been fired because of his inability to devise a work plan and his refusal to observe the project's contractual obligations. When I arrived at the office in Kathmandu, I was confronted by a demoralized staff of Nepali nationals who were in a state of uncertainty, fearing for their jobs, and several who resented the replacement of someone with whom they had personal ties. In a very short time, the mood of the staff had changed completely. It was this newfound enthusiasm of my Nepali staff that made possible the successful turnaround of the project from near failure to outstanding success as judged by the desire for its continuation and expansion expressed in writing by the Ministry of Local Development, the National Planning Commission, the Ministry Finance, District Development Councils, Village Development Councils, and the National Association of District Development Committee Chairmen.
At the Egyptian National Population Council, I encountered a completely demoralized and moribund statistics department. For five years they had hidden the fact that the large number of computers in the department did not and could not generate a single report on population, family planning clinic service delivery, or pharmaceutical use. I was able to turn this situation around by developing new and appropriate software, retraining the staff in Cairo, using the Cairo staff to install the new software and computers in the governorate population offices and train governorate staff in the use of the software and maintenance of the computers. This was accomplished just in time for Egypt to host a major international population conference and demonstrate an exemplary bilingual population and family planning relational data base.