“If there is one suggestion that you would like us to remember in our work in the development career what would that be? A young professional asked me once in a session. We already had a discussion and agreed that ‘commitment to make a difference to the lives of people’ should be the driving force. This keeps us going against all odds. But now was the time to go beyond and attempt a practical advice.
I shared an instance with the group from my professional life. One of my team members, a young professional, was asked to produce an information leaflet on HIV and AIDS. The leaflet was meant for factory workers. She produced a draft and shared with me. Her informed that she reviewed a number of similar leaflets, consulted colleagues and stressed on the fact that the director had liked the draft very much. I appreciated her work but asked if she made an attempt to understand the information needs of factory workers. How would they like the information to be presented to them? This critical step was forgotten. The draft was never pre-tested with its target audience. She said she would have done it but there was less time, and felt it would have taken more resources. I asked her to visit a close-by factory and pretest the draft with some workers. We discussed and revisited basic techniques of pre-testing prototype communication materials. We did the pre-test. It did not take much resource and we got very useful insights. The leaflet had to be re-written and re-designed. It turned out to be a very useful communication material in our work. We discussed and the group agreed that many a times some basic steps are not followed as we get sub-merged in day to day procedures.
Having shared the instance and discussed with the group, the one advice that was asked for became clear: Follow the routine official procedures but Never forget the basics.