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During the month of January, I embarked on reading basic OD books in the richly stocked EASUN resource centre. I am currently reading Process Consultation I, a key book in understanding the role of process in Organization Development. The book is written by Edgar Schein. It is highly recommended to all as a basic text for OD practitioners. 

Through reflections in her DC session of 20th January 2015, Dilu Massanja has helped EASUN to further articulate and visualize its practice. Her reflections had focused on “powerful experiences” in 2014 that she felt had given her great exposure through “wonderful opportunities to explore more about what we do, at EASUN, and how we do it.” She was able to identify how the practice of EASUN uniquely supports capacity development and institutional growth of organizations and communities by looking back and reflecting on specific OD interventions and training activities that she was part of in 2014.  

Balance is a “neither-nor” and a “both-and”. Balance is moving in both directions. To be centered is to be able to move in both directions, embracing both uncertainty and courage, i.e., it is not about eliminating fear or uncertainty.

Source:  CAMPBELL, Joseph (1968) Creative Mythology: The Masks of God. New York, Penguin Books, p. 332

The reading above was shared at the EASUN WTPM, as is our usual practice to share readings. After I had distributed the document, I asked colleagues to browse through it and share what stood out for them. We experienced about 5 minutes of silence, which at first I thought was good. However, with each passing minute, the blank faces and deepening furrowed brows of colleagues, as they stared at the brief page above were becoming rather unsettling to me. Normally I would have tried to rectify the situation by attempting an eloquent explanation of both the obvious and the hidden, in order to help them make sense of the statements in the write-up. In this case, however, I did not know how to start making a presentation of this piece of reading, which was a rather far-fetched (from an African standpoint) articulation based on European mythology.

When the experience of training district level government leaders was brought into the usual process of review and learning within EASUN, one staff member noted that we had now entered the realm of politics. We did not sufficiently explore whether this individual was celebrating this as an opportunity, or if he had perceived it to be threatening to the identity of EASUN. Further discussions however, were decidedly celebratory.

Training of government leaders by EASUN is an opportunity to bring the transformative power of OD to politics. Staff expressed the conviction that to develop the self-awareness of government leaders and improve their capacities for sustainable collaboration is a political act with transformative impact both at local and international levels.

I am writing to share an experience that reconfirmed for me the critical role that movements like APODEA (Association for Practicing OD in East Africa)  can play towards capacity development in the region.

Dilu Massanja a programme officer at EASUN and myself (EASUN OD Associate) attended a meeting organized by Devex International to discuss the particular issue of localizing development aid, through partnership with locally based organizations. The meeting, held in Nairobi Kenya in October 2013, was a partnership forum that brought together over 400 people representing African companies, NGOs (many from E.A), government agencies, International NGOs and their implementing partners, multi-national corporations, leading foundations and donor agencies.