Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Final Presentations

The last few days in Cuenca were a blur. When we met during the day, the group ran presentations constantly. Whether it was our consulting or primary projects, all of the interns had to present their final work to the rest of the group.

Frankly, I was impressed.

Most groups had tangible deliverables that SEC or CES could very feasibly use. Some groups experienced more obstacles than other groups, but these served to be learning opportunities.

To begin, I will start with giving an overview of my P1 project.
Empowerment/Professional Development: 
I am very proud of the amount of work my group has done. Our deliverables are extensive and, in my humble opinion, very feasible to implement. First off, we begin with our surveys. The surveys are meant to be a diagnostics tool to establish the “empowerment level” of the asesoras. We crafted three different versions of the survey: survey one should be administered during the asesoras training process, optimally during the first or second week. Survey two, which is more extensive, is for asesoras once they have a year of experience. Finally, survey three is for those asesoras that are already established asesoras that currently work with SolCom or have previously worked with SolCom. The last survey is primarily to address those asesoras that will not be taking the first or second survey. This system of three surveys, “Pre-AC,” “Post-AC,” and “Old AC,” was relentlessly tested and translated through several bilingual speakers who live in Ecuador, seven interviewers, and several facilitators. The questions are most culturally appropriate for an Ecuadorian context, but they can easily be adapted for the cultural contexts of other countries in which CES operates, to be easily scalable. During an interview, the facilitator (the one asking the questions) would note down narrative data through the questions we created. Afterwards, the facilitator would take the narrative data and match it up to a rating chart that my team made. This is the second deliverable.

The facilitator will look at the narrative response of the asesora and try to match it with one of the answers provided on the rating chart. The rating chart, in the simplest of terms, is to rank how comfortable or proficient the asesora is with a certain concept or ability. To avoid the issue of subjectivity and to acquire the most accurate rank, my team decided to create the rating chart. A scaling is attributed to the ranking chart. The facilitator takes these values and inserts them into a scantron-like sheet. We call this the “answer sheet” or “cheat sheet” for short. Narrative data is difficult to work with and CES asked that we create a system of empowerment metrics. This is to ensure that the data acquired can be quantifiably analyzed and easily interpreted. This is the third deliverable. Because we had three different versions of the survey, my team and I also created three different versions of the cheat sheet. At the bottom of the cheat sheet is a different scale. Depending on where an asesora scores on the scale, they will be “a new AC or not empowered,” “beginning empowerment,” “nearing empowerment,” or “empowered or empowering others.” Obviously, there are some flaws with translating narrative data to numerical data in the way we did, however this is the best and most thorough method we could have done given the time constraints. During the presentation, we made it clear the staff that our P1 and deliverables could be easily altered or adjusted to be more appropriate for their use.

The next deliverable was a compilation of courses and workshops that CES could use in order to further empower their asesoras. The workshops included a leadership workshop (from Coursera), a financial literacy (FOCOPI) workshop (another P1 project created this curriculum), and a “test-taking and review” workshop (asesoraswould review the material that would be on their final exam). The workshops and courses were not as developed as the diagnostics section of our P1; after all, another group was tasked with creating a financial literacy workshop in two months. How were we going to do that as well when our primary task was to create the diagnostics tool?

Our final deliverable was a set of recommendations and lessons learned from conducting interviews. Through talking to sevenasesoras, both former and current, we learned more about what they wanted from their experience with SolCom; we listened to them and asked about what problems they experienced or skills they might want to learn (and then included those questions in the surveys). Recognizing and understanding the needs is empowering in and of itself. The following recommendations are directly from asesoras. The list is not exhaustible.
“want to learn basic English”
“increased credibility among fellow Ecuadorians, through name badges, open certification, shirts with logo”
“want to teach others how to have financial literacy skills”
Basic teaching skills in general
“test is confusing”

And more. We felt that it was important to bring these concerns up during the presentation to demonstrate the value of narrative data and the importance of empowerment.

Other groups also did an excellent job with their P1 projects. The following are my (brief) notes on each of the other projects.

Marketing: this team focused on helping SEC and CES better market their materials and programs. On the CES side, they created three posters that advertised water filters and eye glasses with catchy slogans, easily understood images, and basic information.
Data Analytics: this two-person team was tasked with creating a system through which CES could easily analyze the data acquired through community interviews and analyzing the data that CES currently had. They created an excel document with easy-to-understand categories and a simple method of analysis. Their analysis showed that the most common problem in households was vision.
FOCOPI: this project blew me away, particularly the curriculum and workbook that was created. The objective was to create a financial literacy workshop that asesoras could use to teach community members. This team hit a lot of bumps in the road and were not able to pilot their workshops as much as they had hoped, but their deliverable was something that was akin to that of a high school workbook. Filled with aesthetic images, easy to understand concepts, and sections for note-taking, the workbook looked like it was professionally made.
Customer Feedback: this team devised a method and schedule of contacting consumers of eye glasses and water filters, created a short and quick survey to establish if the products were helpful, and gave CES recommendations on how to implement their system.
Although all twenty-four of us would have liked to create a revolutionizing system or project, I think we all understood that some improvement is better than nothing. In the end, the most we could have done is make our projects as implementable (is that a word?) as possible. The rest is up to CES. If it is within their organizational capacity to do so, CES will put our deliverables to the test.

I told Jus that I will bother her to see if SEC/CES decides to use our deliverables. Fingers crossed!

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