Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Most people would think that a wise consultant would avoid the subject of 'discouraged' clients, groups, people, etc. But it's important to share how and why this phenomenon is experienced, because it happens to just about every group and every individual that has ever pursued the achievement of results - unless of course, they're very lucky to never run into obstacles.

Grenada has a lot of discouraged people right now, so this reflection might have value for some who work (or used to work, since unemployement is estimated near 30-40%) in office/team environments.

Signs of discouragement

1. Being discouraged is not the same as giving up, so you probably won't be hearing people say they're ready to thow in the towel just yet. What you will see is a drain on enthusiasm.
2. If your project involves group input, you will find people taking more time to respond to communication.
3. You will also find the use of sentences that begin with "I can't believe's" and "How could that" and a whole host of We/I "Should have's" or "Should we?" questions that indicate people's resolve is waining.
4. Meetings get harder to organize because the project/activity is coming second to other activities in people's lives.
5. Discouragement is also expressed with slipping deadlines. There are always people who don't make their deadlines, so they're not the ones to watch. Pay attention to the people who are usually the first to volunteer themselves for a task, and the first to get their work done.
6. Increasing signs of fatigue. Precious few things can make a person feel soul-drained tired than working hard for something that isn't generating a 'return'.

"What do you do?

Well achieving some results helps, but successes worth having aren't usually earned overnight so this is the time when creativity and patience have to find their way to the forefront.

1. Inject some humour in whatever you're doing. Humour is a really great way to strengthen interpersonal bonds, particularly among team members. Working through frustrations with humour also provides an opportunity for people to share their feelings of frustration and discouragement while avoiding the negative consequences of a 'complaining session'.
2. Avoid 'complaining'! Complaining only focuses more energy on the things that are not working in your favour and that's not going to keep you focused on your goal.
3. Acknowledge feelings. Even though there's still a lot of gender bias ascribed to 'feelings' (particularly in the professional context) if there's an elephant in the room it's better to acknowledge it's presence than to ignore it and hope it goes away. For example, if you're going to a meeting (board, planning, stakeholder, etc.) and you know the group/issue is facing a lot of problems it might be prudent to say so right up front. "I'm really frustrated by the all the walls we've encountered" might get a lot of nods of agreement from a discouraged group, which helps reinforce the shared bonds you have. However, if you're going to point out an elephant, you'll really be a hero if you've got some ideas about what to do about it.
4. Bring new ideas to the table. Sometimes, when progress with an idea/project starts to stagnate it's because the ideas aren't fresh anymore. Sometimes it's because the people you're trying to work with (partners, stakeholders) aren't invested, committed, sold on the idea or their competing interests are more important to them than your priorities are. If you're trying to partner with people who are difficult to work with, maybe it's time to rework the idea with new partners or on your own. Whatever the reason, it's always good to keep an eye on 'buy-in'.
5. Rage against the machine!...............As a last resort. This option is usually more appealing to younger generations who have less ties and responsibilities to sacrifice, but because of this, when an 'established group' of people say "enough"!! people do tend to pay attention. Good tactics to use for this option include - media campaigns, community meetings, speeches, press releases, protest marches, boycotts, etc.

The last thing I can offer up for anyone who's feeling disccouraged right now is to remember that even if you do everything right, and even if you try really hard....sometimes things don't go the way you expect/want them to. When that happens to me, I usually rely on faith, because I genuinely believe most things happen for a reason.

I'll give you an example. I was recently selling my old utility vehicle. I had an offer on it and was really excited about getting my brand new eco-car (low emmissions, high fuel economy). When the buyer pulled out the morning the sale was to take place I felt frustrated, angry and very dissapointed because I'd been looking forward to getting into my new car! I didn't let the feelings linger long because I reminded myself that things happen for a reason. Later that day we got a suprise call to say some sheep we'd planned on buying had been put on a boat and were on their way over from a nearby island. If I'd sold my car that morning as intended, I would not have had a suitable vehicle to transport the sheep to our land. Our car sold 4 days later to people far more deserving of our old reliable vehicle.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

GHTA Creates Energy Retrofit Lottery Project

As the Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association (GHTA) continues to wait for the Government to give the nod to SIDSDock for our USD $500,000 proposal to cut energy consumption in half (The "GRRR" you think you read in that isn't subliminal, it's right there on the surface!) - the GHTA has turned its attention to other donors.

One of them comes via the National Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Implementation Unit, who contacted the GHTA recently to inform us that they had funding obtained through the Caribbean Development Bank(CDB) CARTFund (which is money given by the British Government via the CDB). It's a funding mechanism quite similar to SIDS in that the CARTFund requires government endorsment to obtain funds - but fortunately in this case the grant has already been awared to the EPA Unit and depending on the quality of our propsal, we may be beneficiaries of their efforts (I have a 100% approval rating on proposals I design, so if the offer is legit, I'm confident!).

The problem is it's only XCD $100,000 which isn't a lot of money when you consider that we intend to use it to procure internationally manufactured technology.

Somthing is better than nothing!

The up-side is that my clients are likely to be able to obtain the funds much more quickly than the traditional planning-proposal-approval-disbursement cycle (which is usually 2-3 years with most donors) and my clients have been given a lot of flexibility to chose how the funding will be spent.

The Board of Directors, at my advice, have chosen to use the funds to implement one of the four energy audits already done on hotels in Grenada. It's only enough to implement a portion of an audit so it'll probably be used for the biggest energy draw (air conditioning) and it will only reach one property.

Why use this money in one place instead of design a project that could do something else?

A few reasons:

1. Four energy audits have been done on hotels in Grenada. None have been implemented.
2. There are a lot of benefits to be derrived by 'proving' that implementing the audits work
3. Showcasing the results helps engage Members who will have to maintain a high level of committment for our larger project to succeed.
4. From a project management point of view, it's better to have a line up of hotels wanting audits and to implement than to chase to get things done.
5. Having an example of the complete audit-implement-record results cycle significantly strengthens our fundraising capacity.
6. No matter which property in Grenada, energy cost savings are urgently needed so it will be money well spent.

Since the purpose of using these funds is to demonstrate the value of implementing the audits, there are only four properties who will be eligible for the funding. Added to this, if any of those four properties want this funding, they will have to be willing to be transparent enough to be used as a case study. It is possible some will be more willing than others. So - once those criteria are met, the properties names will go into a glass/jar/box (whatever) at the AGM and the name will be pulled.

It seems like a very fair and very effective way to approach things. We probably won't know for sure that the funding will be awarded until a week or two after the AGM so it'll be a bit of a muted celebration for the awardee until then, but Executive Director, Pancy Cross thought this was the most democratic way to proceeed and I whole-heartedly agree with her.