• Fernando Zacarias

How to Help Guastecan (Part1): “Be Prepared, Be Confident, Be Ready”

Dear Multipodian:

You are as happy as you can be: This is your first assignment! Somebody wants your advice to help solve “a problem” in Guastecan. You know very little about Guastecan but a lot about your “state of the art” science and your time-proven doctrine to make things better. Now, where do you start?

First, think about “context;” i.e. geography (where in the world is Guastecan? How does it look like?), a little bit of history ((how did this land­­­ become Guastecan?), demographics (who lives there?) socioeconomic conditions (how do they live?), political situation (who is in charge?), health status (morbidity, mortality, risks, and main health problems), etc., etc.

There are plenty of sources of information about Guastecan including online and palpable encyclopedias, country assessments by UN and other agencies, government websites, CIA annual updates, WHO for health indicators, etc., etc. (Don’t spend too much time doing this because you don’t need to become an expert in Guastecan unless you are going to work and/or live there for an extended period of time).

The most relevant information can usually be found in your client/agency reports, especially those which addressed “the problem” previously; interviews with professionals who have lived and worked in Guastecan (if possible), and of course, the agency’s country representative or “on the ground” project manager or technical team, once you get there.

This is essential: You must have complete clarity of what it is that your client (e.g. agency, private company, sponsor, etc.) wants, needs and expects from you. You need to be briefed and have terms of reference (including compensation) for your assignment before you go.

And you must be sure that you’ll be able to communicate with your Guastecan counterparts, either because you speak their language, or they speak yours (or you’ll have a good interpreter).

It seems that you are now prepared for your assignment.

Now, let’s talk about confidence: The reason why you were selected as a consultant is because the agency knows that you know your stuff. Please remember this and take a deep breath (although a little bit of anxiety is always helpful). Also, remember that you may not have all the answers, but that not all the answers are needed to solve a problem… and many times, lack of precise information stimulates curiosity, creativity, and innovation… and you seldom have all the information that you feel you need, but you still can, have to (and will) make a good decision. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.

You have all your papers (passport, visa, etc.), electronic tools, and monetary resources; you are clear about your assignment, you did your homework and preparatory work and you feel that you’ll be able to handle your consultancy.

Now, you are ready to go to Guastecan.

Bon voyage! (See Part 2)

Thank you for reading this; comment if you wish, DZ

Map of Guastecan


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