Things I’ve gained

Most tangibly, I can say that I’ve learned to create dynamic web pages using PHP and HTML5. The alumni survey is online here! It sends a very detailed report of a person’s answers to our email address and saves all the info to a database for later review. But I’ve taken away some other things that will be useful even if I never touch a computer again (even though I’m too much of a facebook addict for that to ever happen).

The importance of anticipating problems before they happen. It’s mostly common sense, but in certain contexts that I have encountered through my time as a VISTA, people have been too overwhelmed with other responsibilities to consider what will be happening a week or two from the present. I’m going to try to give an example without being too boring…last week, an employee and I were made responsible for asking a question of one of our partner organizations. This morning, I received an email (from someone who had received the question third-hand) that attempted to answer the question, but didn’t really address what the original person was looking for. Right now, it’s super low-priority, and I know that my co-worker is working on a million other things, but I have a sneaking suspicion that eventually, it’ll all of a sudden become super-urgent, and everyone will be scrambling around trying to re-interpret the question and get the answer reported to the right people just under the deadline.

Not a big deal, really, but it contributes to the atmosphere of the organization, especially when these things happen frequently.

I guess that scenario also touches on clear communication, especially openness. When is the meeting or report that requires that information needed? What are those numbers being used to evaluate? Why were two people given instructions to ask one question–it leaves room for each person to assume that the other will take care of it.

Somewhere there is a balance between too much transparency/too-frequent updates and leaving people wondering/not enough communication. I have noticed discrepancies in people’s expectations around these issues, not only in terms of what is happening, but how things are happening– delegation, timing, and reasoning being the big ones.




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