Strength in Transitioning Foundation Team Leaders

So it begins. I am now officially a Research Officer. I’m on a special assignment the next seven weeks to get a data collection system set up for the Poverty Intelligence Network (a revision of the Disease Intelligence Network… all this is in the blogosphere if you’re really interested). I’m going to work on data: how to use it, how to gather it, how to teach others to use it.

So today I started a new job. But in the same place. It feels somehow like I’m leaving, but without going anywhere. I’ve officially handed over my position to the wonderful Janine Dzuba. After the break in April (all Western staff out for a few weeks allowing the Kenyans to run the project alone for a while), I’ll be taking back up the healthcare reigns.

This last week, I’ve been spending all of my time transitioning with Janine, the now Healthcare Program Manager. This was quite challenging. Simply in terms of information, there is very much which needs to be communicated in a very short time. We had only 3 days; most transitions happen over the course of 3 weeks. But Janine had been staying in the loop by weekly calls with me for the last few months (isn’t the flat world wonderful?).

Nevertheless, it’s impossible to communicate the situation here over the phone. Or at least I wasn’t able to. So in coming here, even though she was here just six months ago, she had much to learn and adjust to. She’s been drinking from a fire hose the last few days, and doing a great job of it. Visiting the clinic, meetings, conversations, lunches… and so on… and so on.

And for me, it has been hard for me to remember all the things I’ve been doing so that I can tell her about them. You, my faithful blog readers, have only gotten to read of a few of the things that have been happening. There are a million little details of the program: which forms I use, how I run meetings, the where/when/why/how/who about meetings.

The turnover was hard in another way as well. We didn’t agree on everything. Janine thought some of the things I prioritized weren’t as important. Some of the things I had ignored, she thinks should be emphasized. So what is there to do? The thing to do is to give it up; that’s what a turnover is about. There is no room for ego; I have had to give up my programs faithfully and fully to Janine. Then she can lead them forward with her strengths and weaknesses, complimenting my own. It’s wonderful to have another critical mind working on this project. It has been wonderful (though sometime painful) to have Janine’s keen mind asking keen questions about the way things have been going. And this is exactly how we get better.

She’s going to do (and doing) things differently from me, and that’s a good thing. It shows the Kenyan staff a different style of management, allowing them to hold on to the gems of each program manager and throw out the rest (there are plenty of habits and styles which I would not want emulated). It also makes the CDC (Community Development Committee) the constant ones. The only relationships which really last are those with Nuru Kenya, not Nuru USA. This rapid rotation and frequent turnover forces independence.

I’m really excited to see what she does with the program over the next few months. There are some really exciting things in the pipeline for sure! We have a child’s health day, a mobile clinic and the initiation of the Community Health Worker training, just to name a few. I’m a bit jealous of her, but not so much that I’d give up nerd-ing out with the research team. I can console myself with being able to reap where I haven’t sown, so to speak; I get to come in with all these things set up and make them better still when I come back in May.

About David Carreon

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