Truth in action
I learned that when I worked in Tanzania many years ago. Both have to do with information – or even with truth, to use a bigger word. The most precise concept is probably truth-in-action.
Project work requires coordinated action – which is impossible without frank and frequent communication. Accounts reveal the stock and flow of resources. Without workable – which means true – accounts, meaningful coordination of resources is impossible.
In a world where everybody is busy most of the time, ease of communication is crucial. I was reminded of this last week, when we started to experiment with Skype – in order to conduct real time discussions between Kampala, Oslo and Bergen.
To show this concretely, I quote from a letter I wrote to the project group a few days ago
As you know, we are now trying to establish more stable communication links between Kampala, on the one hand, and Oslo/Bergen, on the other. E-mail works well, of course. The problem is real time discussion.
So far, Fred and Aslak have tested this out. They have tried out chat – which works, and have also had a Skype-to-Skype talk with video. But we know that web access at Makerere is rather unstable, so we cannot depend on that alone.
I should add that Skype is not completely stable in Norway either – when I talk with my son in London, we sometimes lose connection – probably because of traffic overload.
We should therefore try out more possibilities. One of them is talking by Skype from Norway – to mobile phones in Uganda. The cost of that is much lower than direct phone-to-phone connections – about 400 Ugandan shs (or 1 NOK) pr. minute.
To test this out, I had a brief talk with Fred yesterday – and I’ve asked Aslak to continue testing with Fred and others in the production team. So don’t be too surprised if you get a phone call from Norway – it’s probably Aslak or Tord at the other end.
Since then I’ve also had Skype-to-phone talks with Agnes and Irene. They work very well – which helps a lot.
Irene also tells me that Internet at Makerere is most stable between 8 and 10 AM. So our best chance for Skype-to-Skype talks are in the morning:
- 8-10 AM Kampala time
- 6-8 AM Oslo time
In Oslo, I am not sure people will be happy about meetings at 6 or 7 in the morning (!). The early bird catches the worm – but not its beauty sleep.
But people also have Skype at home. Personally, I have no problem with starting at 7 AM – as long as I can use my home office … We’ll explore this.