It started in the agriculture program – a lighthearted way that the managers would evaluate each other:

Andrew’s Field Officers finished pacing all their members’ farms? Tick, ‘check’!
James’ maniacal driving almost pitched Jake off the motorcycle? X!

At the end of last year, I heard some of the other managers pick it up and by the time I got back to Kuria last month, it had gone viral. Tick! Angeline finished her group supervision form first. X! Peter laughingly X’s himself when his phone goes off in a meeting. It’s casual, funny, and democratic. Field Officers will ‘check’/X their managers, and managers ‘check’/X each other. To me, it’s become something more significant because it’s part of the Nuru team culture in Kenya. I no longer check my watch at the start of a meeting because if an officer shows up late, he or she is greeted by a cheery chorus of X! If a good idea is proposed in Swahili I can tell, because the group responds with an enthusiastic ‘check’. The Kenya team has always been hardworking and smart. There is a confidence and proficiency now that has redefined Nuru Kenya, and my role in it.

Recently I went to an all-program Field Officer meeting and a weekly manager meeting. As issues came up for discussion, I would make quick mental checklists of points I wanted to make, and then just as quickly check them off as my co-workers addressed every point and more. With any luck, I don’t think I’ll speak at another meeting for the rest of the year.

Before the CED team had been fully formed, I would hear James’ distinctively animated voice and the famous Andrew Sinda laugh as they doled out ticks and X’s, and I would admire Jake’s great working relationship with his team. When my Field Officers first started, they would let me talk at that them and make mistakes. They won’t hesitate to correct me now. Their leadership and ownership of Nuru Kenya is cemented, and I can tell you it has nothing to do with me. I see it in the other teams too, and it’s a welcome sign that the U.S. foundation team has already become less important operationally as Nuru Kenya continues to grow toward self-sufficiency.