Although I most often tackle projects alone, I do work with others when our complimentary skills enhance a project. Whoever I work with has to share values and a deeply people centred way of coming at  development. Even when that's true it is also important that our personalities and styles click.  Both Mariam Smith and Rory Jones (scroll down) fit all that perfectly. We share an understanding of how the world works and what's  important. Each  brings skills, perspectives and a life history  that compliments mine. We bounce off each other. I'll let Mariam and Rory introduce themselves:

Mariam Smith

Mariam is independent consultant at Learning Loop.  Our perspectives are not identical- we are different people- but significantly both of our life histories straddle the rich and the developing world. We both still live and  work  on the planet's upper and lower decks and relate deeply to people in both spaces . As  a team we bring  our different skills,  education,  languages and perspectives wrapped up in our similar people-centred approach.  Here is  Mariam in her words: 

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Rory Jones

Rory and I have a. shared understanding and humour born out of sharing thoughts and life over many years. We have lived in a Himalayan village together, traversed mountains in Zanskar, shared alpine tents in NZ  and facilitated workshops together. Rory brings values that resonate with me along with his unique blend of technical and relational skills. Here he is in his own words.  

 With my wife Jane in our natural. habitat. 

With my wife Jane in our natural. habitat. 

Though a qualified engineer who enjoys my career, I find restricting myself to only the world’s technical dimensions somewhat unfulfilling.  In recent years I have moved beyond the the industrial engineering technical space, to spheres as diverse as development projects in rural India, training surgeons in the west and outcome based evaluation. In evaluation I see deliberately looking for and understanding relationships as a key entry intof how organisations and systems function. One of my greatest strengths is my combination of “hard” skills and experience through which I can quickly grasp technical and regulatory facets of a system and “soft” skills which let me integrate human and  organisational relations into that.

My life as a professional process engineer was about creating boredom. No one wants to be in a processing plant that is 'exciting' because exciting is the edge of  ‘out of control’ and out of control is where really bad things can happen ( check out Wikipedia's Industrial Disasters page).  In order to create boring processes, it is imperative that they are really well understood.  All the minute detail of often highly complicated systems  needs to be drawn out and the consequence of changes in variables deeply thought through. Yet even the most automated systems in the world still need people: People are required in the design, people are required in the manufacture. people are required in the operations, people required in the maintenance and finally, people are required in the decommissioning of the facility. 

Literally and  metaphorically people bring industry to life.

 

 

 Yhe most important thing in this engineering workshop? It is  the people, the people, the people. 

Yhe most important thing in this engineering workshop? It is  the people, the people, the people. 

Thus a people-in-systems-approach started to inform my engineering practise. Back then I began to see that many systems contribute to industrial processes : technical systems, regulatory systems, management systems, environmental systems.  However. its humans who facilitate the functioning and  the interactions of them all.  I learnt this in masters degrees and better through practical experience on 'the shop floor'.. Then I realised that what is true for running industrial plants is also true for any human endeavour- Everything we care about is nested in human behaviour and relationships. Mapping system change i is about having eyes to see relationships, sensitivity to understand what they contribute,  vision to see how those relationships might develop more beneficially and skills to   facilitate that to happen. That holds true in any engineering plant and any development context. 

A famous saying in Maori, the language of New Zealand’s indigenous people goes like this::

'He aha te mea nui o te ao. He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata'
(“What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people” it is people.)

That truth, first discovered in engineering, now finds a home in my development practise.

Recreationally, partly as a result of my  New Zealand heritage, I am drawn to wild places.  In modern life we spend much of our time in surroundings engineered by people. Retreating to the mountains or the sea, deliberately wilderness where comfort is not a given, requires me to relinquish control to my surroundings. I find it so refreshing to discover and use many levels of awareness. I love being out there where my experience is all about my relationship with my environment,  especially  when sharing this depth with my two boys and my wife, Jane.