A Day in The Life of an International Development Consultant

Churning Out a Complex Development Solution                                                          from an Off the Beaten Path Business Model

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Today is Day 2 designing a complex social solution.

It is 3:45 am and I’ve just torn myself away from the bathroom mirror.   It is the end of another quick check in on the cute things about my face; and that intense― get-ready-to- work hunt for invisible whiteheads.

You won’t find me reading the news, and checking Emails this morning.

Questions, outcomes, statistics, theories of change, assumptions, metrics, strategies, tactics, and partnerships for ensuring the intervention delivers the intended and desired change are running around in my head.

There goes the reason the bed cannot hold, even after a short visit.

Costing the solution, identifying traditional and creative funding sources are dragging, spinning, loading, rumbling, and pausing in my head like the computer left running last night and the night before.  A kind of abuse that happens to the computer once in a blue moon; but just another super bootcamp for my brain.

I’d set the clock for two, but can’t remember hearing it alarm.  Strange! I checked the alarm button― ahem, someone had turned if off.  And that someone is me!

None of my associates are engaged on this project, it is just my partnering-client and I.  Our last WhatsApp meeting ended after 11:00 last night.  Earlier that day we had a      2-hour marathon interrogating the results chain, and theory of change for the program that will be supported by eight complex projects. That session broke the new idea dam, leaving a rush of idea flow to follow me to bed.  The play for connecting all the dots, spotting the risks, and opportunities are flowing in both our heads. He can now see― how his idea could work.  It has exploded from three themes to eight, each with a supporting project, a multi-sector approach, desired partners, real-time change & benefits, gender lens, wealth generation, and environmental interventions―Whoa!

That is the beauty, reward, and tax for planning such interventions with the end in mind; with the intended beneficiaries at the center; with what success looks like and how it will be measured.  Day 2 is― Day 3 in reality. A group of us had done a virtual brainstorm and backcasting at the second genesis of it all.

It seems never-ending, planning-in opportunities for learning, curating lessons learnt, and plugging them back into strategy and execution for driving success and innovation. Finding creative ways to ensure rights, duties, and responsibilities can be upheld and are affordable in terms of cost related to behavior change and actions.

woman-2994536_research thinkIt’s clear―planning like this makes no bones about disrupting regular sleep and office time. Passion, and deep connections serve to wake you up, and keep you chained to the computer, library, or phone; and web meetings occur long past regular work hours. Research into similar interventions, stakeholder needs, national plans and strategy documents, newspaper articles, dialogue, questions, calls for additional organizational information, re-reading and checking for risks, ambitions, and opportunities― feels endless.

But I’ll complete the results chain by 5:45 am.  Well that’s what I thought!  I am still integrating the financial viability component, I developed after a meeting of minds with my fellow consultant in the Fintech Sector.  This is when the imagination can get wild dreaming up the glimmer and glam of gamified interventions plus real self-sufficiency, financing, stakeholders, and owners that can be brought to the intervention.

My mind pulls up a scene from FAME ( the American TV Show I love), Solid Gold, a Jamaican Festival Performance, an NDTC Production, then a Chorale by The University Singers (UWI, Mona), the Jamaican Folk Singers, and of course a Production at the Julliard School (New York) ―I can see the hook and entertainment unfold in the solution for a complex social problem.  It is now six thirty-seven, and I am still on the results chain. I am also watching the clock; I need to pounce on an opportunity in Stuttgart (6 hours ahead of Toronto).

This is gung-ho backed by strategic thinking and intimate knowledge of the problem. Ever heard of gung-ho backed by strategic thinking? Like multi-tasking we are on top of this one. Trick is― you have to know when and what you can take on together, in both cases.

Energy is high and I could grow the intervention even bigger, but I know that beast must be contained― before complex kills both productivity and the goose that will lay the golden eggs.

Big vision, big dream, big picture, BIG is how we think.  But there goes that voice with the cold splash of wisdom, whispering― SMART, doable, less pain Meegan!  “Too complex―what do you mean?” “It is very doable”.  Ah, no problem, as my client-partner and I go through the crucial questions, reflect, share feedback, and negotiate the programme scope I’ll be reined in somewhat―yes, only somewhat.  That is the trouble with partnering this way, versus a regular client-service provider partnership.

Goodness gracious me, it is minutes to eight, “Looks like exercise isn’t going to happen today”.  I have a sales pipeline to check in on, publication coordination to act on, other solutions to deliver. I make a somewhat shaky resolve to exercise if it is even midnight tonight―we’ll see. Results chain finally done, hurray.  But I’m getting a vibe to get deeper into the costing― “hold your horses, Mam, that is not on your agenda for today”.

It is almost 10:00 am. My eyes take their on-the-hour dart to the clock; first the one on the computer; then the one strategically positioned across the room from my desk. That is the one I trust, maybe because the numbers are bigger it seems to be more accurate in my mind―lol.  The excitement, and extra work on the brain leaves me peckish more often. I am very hungry at ten instead of at one or two in the afternoon.   I still have the executive summary for the project to write, so I am still chained to that deliverable.

Crunchy Chicken piece

Brain rebellion sets in―I want to do something fun, to eat my lunch, crunchy chicken at the top of mind and taste buds. Haven’t had that in a long time. The crave is the price I pay for not exercising, eating, or sleeping on time.  A cup of hot chocolate rescues me from the hauntings for a while.

I yield to hunger and a power nap at 11:00 am.   At 1:00 pm, I have a face-to-face work meeting.  Two hours later I settle down to check Emails, send a reminder about an overdue account, produce creatives for marketing, double check my sales pipeline, and things to do list― I want to make sure nothing important is being left behind.

6:00 pm: half-an-hour executive to executive give back.

7:00 pm:  supper and family chit chat.

8:00 pm:  quick meeting, followed by work on the proposal, and plan for tomorrow.

10:00 pm: Modified exercise, household chores, get ready for bed and tomorrow.

Some days, the flow is not orderly textbook style in this kind of operation, things can get productively messy, and healthy goes on pause―that is reality!

Thanks for having read.. Share your experience of the all but typical day.

Copyright © 2019 Meegan Scott, Magate Wildhorse.  All rights reserved

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