Business Class

I have learned more about business in the past three weeks than in the rest of the past 23 years of my life. And it’s all really interesting and very applicable stuff. Every Thursday we have technical training for half the day, where we learn how to do the more hands-on part of our job. The first three tech sessions were about acquainting oneself with the town, how to run an effective meeting, and how to get the most out of employees or people and organizations you are working with. I feel like everything I learned I will actually use - in my next few years in the Peace Corps and in life.

First we learned how to do a FODA (SWOT in English: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) where we list characteristics of a group of people and/or individual contributors in each of the four columns. As David says, “don’t go camping with somebody who can’t pack his own bags!” First we’ve got to know the abilities and disabilities of the people we’re working with to make sure we’re not getting in over our heads.

Next we learned how to make a community map and seasonal calendar - both tools specific to each town, completed with the help of many town members. With these tools we are able to see the points of interest, danger, and important happenings of the town from the perspective of those in the community.

We learned how to draw a solution tree, where one works on a problem with the input of the group. One person writes a problem down on paper; this is the “trunk”. Then asks the group to brainstorm different causes (roots) and writes them down. Then asks the group for effects (branches) and writes them down. An idea that would cut down a branch is a short-term solution to the problem, and an idea to chop off a root would be a long-term solution. I like this whole strategy because it’s not one person coming up with a magic solution to a problem, but the members of the community figuring out together, with a little organizational help, their own doable solutions to their own problem that they think is important.

We also learned how to fill out a Product-Market Matrix, which consists of a 2x2 matrix containing
1) existing product/existing market
2) existing product/new market
3) new product/existing market
4) new product/new market
We learned how to partition the aspects of our current project into the matrix and from there figure out where to go next.

Finally, today, we learned how to make a POA (Plan de Operacion Annual) or an Annual Plan and budget. We also learned the five Ps of a good business: Product, Price, Promotion, Place, Public.

I feel like this crash-course in business was really interesting and really helpful, and it’s making me more and more interested in the science of business. Business is all about human behavior and how that behavior changes due to various other weird things. I like science. I like human behavior. However odd and unpredictable it may seem at times, I think this is something I could really get into.

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