It has been a few weeks since I updated you here! Sorry for the delay. A lot has happened here at Nuru in the interim!

We had a week-long strategy meeting for all senior directors at Nuru in Southern California. We each had the assignment of reading the book Good to Great by Jim Collins in preparation for the meeting. Going into the discussions of the week with that book as part of the back-story of our narrative brought some very interesting energy into the dicussions.

I am not an avid reader of the types of books that are typically advertised in seat-back-pocket-in-front of you magazines, but I found this book very readable and interesting. I also found the lessons, warnings, and advice highly appropriate for us at this moment in our history. It is very appropriate for us to be trying to determine who should and should not be a part of our organization, what we can be the best in the world at, what the brutal facts of our success and failures so far are, and what types of things we should think about not doing any more.

So, all of us directors spent a lot of very intense discussion-time talking about these things. We talked a lot about the nature of change and what it should mean to us. We talked about empowerment. We talked about the fact that not giving handouts and doing no more than creating an “enabling environment” for the members of the communities where we work should make it OK for us to observe these folks choosing not to use whatever tools the interventions we conduct put at their disposal. Isn’t that interesting? In other words, if we give community members training on how to do hand washing and why they should wash their hands, and point out the availability of the tools necessary for them to wash their hands in their own compounds, and they choose, after that, to not wash their hands,  might we still be able to call our work success,  because we have created an enabling environment?

Should it be our goal to not have people in extreme poverty or should it be our goal to give the opportunity to not live in extreme poverty?

There’s a big difference, and the measurement of that big difference is a challenge. I am grateful that the MPAT takes this big difference into account.

Many other exciting things going on here on the team. Janine has completed her first draft of her CHW program recommendation, and it is going through an editing process. Stephanie is working with all field staff, stateside and abroad, on the development of logic models to generate our program metrics. The field staff is enjoying this work a lot, I believe, and it is a great way to assess and focus our efforts across the board.

And perhaps the most exciting thing for us – we’ve begun to interview a few candidates for our research fellow position in the field! We are sending a researcher to Kenya for much of 2011 to help us out with our field work. We haven’t hired yet, so let me know if you want to submit your resume.