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Want ICT4D Program Success? Then Hire and Empower Local Staff like David Rodriguez

By Linda Raftree on August 6, 2012

In the International NGO sector, we often discuss ways that development organizations can better bridge development and ICTs. If you ask me, this video shows one of the best ways to achieve it: Hire people like David.

Hire young, local folks who have spent time in communities, who understand local realities, who are passionate about helping make things better, and who are hungry to do new things that make sense. Hire people who are humble; people who listen and who ask questions when they don’t know the answer.

Hire people who are curious, who seek out information, who are self starters, and who are not afraid to work hard, to try, to take risks and to fail. Hire people with creative fire who know how to work in a team, how to collaborate with others and how to learn from those around them. Hire young people who use and understand new technologies and who spend enough time out of the office to know how they can realistically be applied to development issues in difficult settings.

Hire people like David.

But don’t only hire them.

Once you hire them, make sure that they have the conditions to thrive and achieve to their fullest.

Make sure people like David have access to opportunities. Make sure that they get to attend regional and global internal and external meetings to share what they know, to learn, and to make contacts and connections.

Notice people like David. Reward them, honor them, and congratulate them regularly, even if they are too busy getting the job done to spend lots of time on self-promotion or office politics.

Make sure people like David have mentors and managers who can take roadblocks out of their way. Listen to them. Respect them. Question them, yes, but do so with the honest belief that they have the capacity to come up with ideas that can work even if they are not the ideas you would have come up with. Don’t feel threatened by people like David when they know more than you do about something. We can all learn from each other if the space for dialogue is open and sincere.

People like David are the present and future of development efforts.

People like David are the reason I have a hard time giving career advice to folks in the US who are looking for jobs overseas. I’d rather see people like David in these positions.

David recently won the “Most Promising Newcomer” award for the Americas region during Plan International’s Global Awards. Follow David at @2drodriguez and learn more about what he’s up to at the website Mis Derechos Ante Desastres (My Rights in the Face of a Disaster), the project Facebook page, or at @deantede.

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Linda Raftree has worked at the intersection of community development, participatory media, rights-based approaches and new information and communication technologies (ICTs) for 20 years. She blogs at Wait... What?
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One Comment to “Want ICT4D Program Success? Then Hire and Empower Local Staff like David Rodriguez”

  1. Victor van R says:

    What a silly story. Working over 10 years in the ICT4D sector as researcher and implementer, I have met people like David who created a complete mess of their ICT projects. The wrong system designs, not sustainable, using pirated software, etc etc. And yes, I have also seen successful Davids.
    This has nothing to do with local or international. This has everything to do with understanding the ICT4D field, dedication and the ability to translate the needs of the people/communities that you want to serve into ICT solutions.
    So often ICT4D projects are conceptualized, supervised and sometimes even implemented by general project managers that have little or no understanding of information technology beyond the level typing a report in a wordprocessor, preparing a budget in a spreadsheet and answering their mail in a mail client. In most cases this lack of understanding leads to wrong decisions or failure that even a very capable David is not able to rescue.
    I think it is high time that we recognize that ICT4D in particular and IT in general requires good and specialized knowledge and skills. Just like the accountant we hire and logistics manager we employ. Just like the doctor we visit and the car mechanic that fixes our car. When we do that we will end up with a nice mix of local and international ICT4D-Davids that, together, make ICT4D projects a success.