Contemplating What I Have Learnt from a Short Course at IHE-Delft
Last February, I have attended the 3-week short course called Managing Water Organizations from February 8 to 27 at IHE-Delft with Orange Knowledge Program (OKP) scholarship funded by NUFFIC. Since the beginning of my time working in the Myanmar Water Sector, IHE-Delft was the first institute that I saw intensive and highly specialized short courses for early to mid-career professionals. So, this is a chance for water professionals that can take a break for a while, enhance proficiency and understanding towards concepts and implementation on the ground.
IHE-Delft Institute for Water Education is the largest international graduate water facility based in Delft, The Netherlands. It offers MSc and PhD Programmes as well as a wide range of short courses.
I, Kyaw Nyunt Linn, have been currently operating the Myanmar Water Portal and working as a communications manager. So my daily routine is to conduct interviews with many water experts around the world to elaborate their works and disseminate research reports and documents in Myanmar Water sector.
First Impression and Expectation
This short course prepares participants for positions of leadership in the water sector and utility management, providing the essential elements within the field of organizational and change management. Therefore, I expect two things that are to learn about water organizations in the Netherlands and how they work together at different levels to achieve a particular goal.
In the starting day, the institute shared us the syllabus and introduced lecturers and short course participants around the world. There were around 30 short course participants, from sub-Saharan Africa, all regions of Asia, Central America and South America, some of who have managerial expertise, postgraduate degree holders who are willing to get water-related concepts as their capstone.
The course is mainly to explain the position and strategy of a water organization concerning its institutional environment, and to diagnose challenges for a water organization.
In this module, activities consist of three parts: class lectures, playing simulation game and field trip at the end of the course. Lectures are delivered through more related academic debates and case studies. To know how to apply practically on the ground, a regional manager from Vitens Evides (VEI) shared his experience as an external lecturer to understand the importance of strategic planning in organizations and the importance of external and internal analysis by applying the SWOT analysis tool. That is a great moment for me to learn such things so that I can observe empirical evidence and how to apply abstract knowledge into pragmatic form.
Another interesting lecture that I have got is how to start initiatives to reform the policy implementation, policy formulation and problem framing at a particular situation.
Understanding the given lectures, we separated into four groups for doing the simulation game, and each person has different roles to accomplish their interests. In the utility simulation game, the trade-offs in utility management become explicit, and players need to make decisions on what trade-offs they choose.
Our last lecture and final assignment are to visit three water organizations in the Netherlands as a field trip in the last week of the course. The core idea on this is to scrutinize each organization by conducting online research and ultimately, to interview with the CEO and Regional Managers of each organization. I had been doing intensive studies about World Waternet, Vitens Evides, and IHE-Delft as for our assignment. Finally, we had to present all the findings and learning points based on our research and interviews and shared our ideas or suggestions to connect with the lectures that we have learnt of this course.
Practicality is a key that I have got from this course. Leading people and changing the system are subtle to shift, even a small step and change people behaviour. What I bring back to my country is engaging these known lectures while performing the institution analysis, especially interview session and preferably, I am keen to visualize the structure of different organizations with different interests and generate an individual effective and efficient roadmap.
I will continue to pursue further topics under Water Management and Governance in the future, which refers to build up sustainability.