Using your WITS! in new ways - as you train in powerlessness
In SynNovation, we both facilitate practial innovation, and train people in innovation. We were scheduled to do a two-day Workshop in Innovation and Team Skills (WITS!) for 8 people, at NAMPAK RandD in Epping, Cape Town, on February 22 and 23. My partner Lu-Marie Sobey flew down from Johannesbrug to co-train with me. And then the Eskom Fiasco occurred.
Training - Our intensive experiential training in a unique group innovation process relies heavily on videotaping the group working on tasks, and using selections from this for feedback and learning. We also use an overhead projector (more flexible for experiential learning than Powerpoint presentations) and flip-charts, and many other fun props to stimulate creativity.
Logistics - We live on the 6th floor of a 14-storey building in Muizenberg, and have eight and a half flights up or down to / from our parking garage
The staircase in our building is dark - even in daytime you need a torch, so it would be difficult to carry bags of workshop tools AND carry a torch - down, and even worse, up.
Normally it takes 25 to 30 minutes to the Nampak venue in which we were to train - we knew we would probably have to allow double this time due to the Eskom-induced traffic problems - there and back
Actions to help in case of power failure
Thought up the 2 days before (but I still had a toss-around worrying night)
When we needed to videotape the next session, we were still powerless, so the batteries had to work again. However, the power did not return, so we could not show that session - we did verbal feedback. And so on. Luckily the small group size we have for this training, helped to make this fairly effective.
I had an urgent proposal to prepare on the evening of 22nd - at least I could work on my laptop, with a torch pinched between my ear and my shoulder so I could see the keyboard - but that was SLOW going, and gave me a literal pain in the neck. I could not send off the mail, so had to get someone else to send it off next morning.
Luckily things were better on 23rd - less non-working traffic lights than on 22nd - and power all day at the workshop. And we got very good ratings for the workshop - showing that innovation works and "maak 'n plan" can help.
I find it unforgivable that the power in an industrial area like Epping should be cavalierly cut - has anyone calculated the economic and opportunity costs? And then Kadalie, Cape Town manager for public lighting, said he guaranteed there would be power for the Stormers match on Friday 23rd - that is really adding insult to injury! Since when is a sport event more important than production in a major industrial area, and in the city's only refinery, in shops selling perishable products, and than elderly people having to climb 14 flights up and down in high-rise buildings!
I heard today that a client who had booked a workshop for April had been so badly disrupted by the power problems, and had suffered such big losses in the past week, that they are postponing the workshop. Maybe consultants should record with The Skills Portal all such cancellations caused by Eskom's poor performance - so we can get an idea of the opportunity costs in our industry.
What can we do to help?
I am convinced that a few creative problem-solving sessions and training facilitated by SynNovation (and I am sure by other skilled consultants) could help Eskom:
I look forward to hearing others' experiences.
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