I'm working with ict4djamaica; a network of organisations working in the field of ICT for development in Jamaica to assist them in the development of a sustainability strategy. I'm doing this from the Netherlands, without traveling to Jamaica. It a bit of an experiment and I'm surprised how easy things seem to flow and fit together so far. I had discussions by mail and telephone (skype did not work, probably due to the speed of their connection) to co-construct the questions, process and expected results. When my colleague travelled there, I drafted a session plan for a face-to-face meeting for the board and a few members to kick-start the process which was facilitated by another consultant in Jamaica, and was apparently a very lively and energizing session. Now we continue with an online discussion in Dgroups, a discussion space they are all familiar with. I'm just surprised how comfortable everyone seems to be with working with a person at such distance. I asked them to introduce themselves with their name, organisation, what they like about their work and someone they would like to send an email and there are some great replies which make me laugh.
Not too long ago I discussed with someone the possibility of working with some organisations abroad and the person responded that she did not want to travel. Through her response, I realised I had assumed a collaboration at distance using various technologies. My participation in the Foundations of communities of practice workshop and the Online facilitation course have changed my perception about what is possible working at distance (not just online, also using teleconferences), I think you have to experience this once to believe it. Apparently for the people of ICT4DJamaica it not too hard to be at ease with the option of working at distance with trust. But OK, we just started, will tell you more in February when we will have finished the process :).