Thursday, November 10, 2005
Practical example: per diem and learning
(cartoon text: salaries, options, car, pension, I think we have a deal! .....One more thing: on my first workday I want to be dropped by a helicopter on the parking lot)
I started working at IICD, the International Institute for Communication and Development as Knowledge Sharing Officer (I had always wanted to be an officer :)). I'm very happy having colleagues again, and such an international team as well. During lunchtime, the hard topic of payment of per diem or daily subsistence allowance came up. It is customary practice in most development trainings, conferences and workshops to pay participants a per diem. It's such an engrained practice that it's hard to go around it. And it an important additional to their incomes for participants. In one event, participants from the south came to Europe and were given a per diem under the assumption that it would enable them to socialize and have dinner with fellow participants. But they ended up eating take-away food in their rooms to save the money.
It's a practice which influences learning processes negatively because people may participate for the per diem rather than the topic. And within organisations the question of who participates in a learning event becomes politicised, because it is not only about learning, but also about additional income. It makes it much harder to get people to take their own personal learning processes in hand and become active learners rather than training or workshop attendants. Whereas a Community of Practice thrives on a personal connection with the domain of the community and passion for this topic.
By the way, I noticed the same difference in a training for which I paid for myself and others had it paid for by their employers. I was more fanatic in getting everything out of it. Sometimes lunch conversations touch upon the core of all issues, more easily than formal meetings....