Jeff has more than 30 years of experience designing, and implementing foreign assistance programs for USAID and others. He is available to support non-profit organizations on a sliding scale (contact for details), as well as general consulting (see below).
See Jeff’s LinkedIn profile.
Available for part-time as well as work-from-home positions. Writing/editing, mentoring or supporting junior staff, advisor to senior management. Hourly rate 90% of best paid fully burdened (IRS 990 or other documentation required) or $130, whichever is less.
“All you have to do is…” Not true. Helping people is never that easy. If it were, well…
Jeff has been coaching colleagues most of his career, and has himself been professionally coached. Here are a few tips for taking an innovative idea from concept to implementation within any complex, consensus-based organization, including USAID.
1. Your technical solution is legitimately challenged on the merits. Generally this is the easiest problem to resolve. You’re the best in your field. You have the answers. It’s merely a matter of putting your ideas into a cogently worded argument, first in writing, then for oral presentation. You need a writing/speaking coach to help you polish your ideas in writing, and to help you prepare for the public presentation.
2. Your solution is challenged on the merits, but there’s something else going on. Is someone angling for promotion? Do they see their jobs simply as saying “no” to everyone else’s ideas? If that sounds silly, well, it happens. Finesse, rather than direct confrontation, may be the best approach. Anticipate. Engage beforehand. Toss a bone. Enlist as an ally. You need an interpersonal coach for managing the room.
3. Your program negatively impacts someone else’s. This is particularly common when the affected program resides in a different agency of the U.S. Government, though it sometimes arises within USAID missions with management issues. Understanding the needs of the other program is paramount, but cognizance of institutional power relationships is also key. When to compromise? When to stick to your guns? You need a strategic coach for listening and exploring options.
4. The rules don’t allow you to do what you need to do. The administrative side of the house is key — the lawyers, the financial controllers, and especially the contracting officers. Engage by affording them productive, problem-solving roles that will appeal to their own supervisors and to senior management. You need a bureaucratic coach who knows the rules, but who also knows what pushes buttons on the administrative side of the house.
5. Senior management finds your ideas a bit risky, and want reassurance. The room is silent. Test your ideas beforehand with potential allies. Seek their commitment to be affirming in the room when the director asks for comment. You need a team building coach who can help you reach out to just the right people to win the day.
Just having a sound technical solution, satisfying all of the requirements of ADS 201, is merely the first step. There ought to be an ADS 201-A on how to operate effectively in a consensus-based organization, but unfortunately there isn’t.