WHO IS RAJ RANA?
Raj Rana is the Director of the WolfGroup Consultants. With 16 years of international experience in the aid and development sector, his focus is on supporting organizations and teams to pursue meaningful change through clarity of purpose.
Raj completed his professional and graduate studies in architecture in Canada and started his international career as a Canadian Peacekeeper in Bosnia-Herzegovina 1993. His international experience was shaped through 8 years with the International Committee of the Red Cross in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Chechnya, Darfur and Iraq. He is a Certified Professional Facilitator and an Accredited Practitioner of Social Return on Investment.
You can connect with Raj here:
IN TOR 042 YOU’LL LEARN ABOUT:
- WolfGroup and Raj’s work in facilitating teams and organizational outcomes.
- ‘Consulting syndrome’ which prevents supporting players from maximizing impact and engagement, and ways Raj addresses those issues.
- The factors that favored Raj’s relatively young consulting career, but more importantly, what he has done to keep pushing the edge of what his facilitation can do.
- Performing evaluations in international development, the cultural frictions existing among players of all sizes, and what needs to be done in education and advocacy for the good of the field.
OUR CONVERSATION INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING:
- Canadian Air Force
- Red Cross
- UN Environment Program (UNEP)
- Ending Child Labor in Tobacco (ECLT) Foundation
- Strategic planning
- Terms of reference
- Cultural resistance
EPISODE CRIB NOTES
3 things: UN Environment Program with the private sector; Ending Child Labor in Tobacco (ECLT) on strategic planning; and humanitarian standards for mid-level organizations.
WolfGroup facilitates strategy, engagement, evaluation. Best work is collaborative, not just consulting.
The consulting syndrome
Organizations want consultants to make great impact in little time, but their agency is restrained, their involvement over time limited.
Team members for projects face many restrictions for maximum impact, primarily budgetary.
His LinkedIn story is lengthy.
’93 Peacekeeper with the Canadian Air Forces in Bosnia. “Young, impressionable 20 years old.”
’98 Red Cross. It was relatively easy to get in.
Then, consultant, with no idea how. “It was a chance to get out. Bit of a luxury, relatively young.”
Corporate and development professionals are broad categories, and comparisons are difficult, but there are common sets of skills that would help both. “They can work together and understand.”
A typical week involves meetings with clients, office work. He gets hands-on, but he’s interested in empowering his workers and increasing common understanding.
Resistances Raj faces
As facilitator, Raj uses a lot of games and role play to promote communication and engagement. “People are really willing to put their fate in your hands.”
His facilitation is not recreation, is making people clarify and focus on their goals.
His consulting brand is about compounding on skills, making connections in depth on voids identified.
It is good to work for organizations with resources. But it’s time to move on, “find my own feet.” Jumped faster than other cases, friends.
Oftentimes realities don’t match the Terms of Reference, but clients don’t discuss them after they are signed. “It’s a missed opportunity.”
Evaluations tend to be problematic, too focused, ready to be contested.
Developing business, today and in five years
Referrals, word of mouth. “You reach a critical mass naturally.”
He wasn’t developing networks for business opportunities, but they just gave back.
Stay focus on development strategy. Planning to get into Corporate Responsibility, Environment, Social Impact, for private corporations.
Stay connected to small initiatives, “It is easier to see the impact, and it keeps you grounded.”
He has an accountant. “Choosing one is like choosing a therapist.”
His most important tool is a scanner that recognizes spreadsheets.
Administrative work is not such a burden for him.
Raj has a portable office.
First evaluation in a large organization. He had to go and ask questions in each ground operation, but each one had prepared a dancing number with children which he had to go through each time. And they obviously disagreed with the evaluation.
Evaluations in his experience involve education and advocacy as to what it is and what to do with it.
“Whatever you do, don’t get a Master’s degree in humanitarian action.” Choose something else, out of your zone, that will be useful in five years time, new and different
“Ruthlessly network. Call anyone who answers you. It’s a numbers game.”
Please share, participate and leave feedback below!
If you have any feedback you’d like to share for me or Raj, please leave your thoughts in the comment section below! I read all of them and will definitely take part in the conversation.
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