Sunday, March 16, 2014

Ag 1's Chile and Peru trip: Planes, trains, buses, vans, taxis and rental cars - Agriculture 1

By Amber Conley

For the majority of our team, in 12 days of travel we had 9 flights, 2 trains, several taxis, 1 rental car and what seemed like an infinite number buses or vans.  While this trip was exhausting it was an amazing experience we will never forget.

It all began with our planning.  After each submitting initial concept ideas, we held a brainstorm session expertly facilitated by Jon.  He then helped us categorize our ideas into the key Agricultural areas of water (both irrigation and harvesting) and salmon fishing.  Alas, his wonderfully researched sanitation idea while not forgotten was not focused on…but we had to draw the line somewhere…

With the 2 areas of focus identified we began to flush out pre-trip research and meetings.  Sean went above and beyond with his research and not only had pre-trip meetings but ultimately had the best formed hypothesis going into the trip.  The team also held pre-trip meetings for salmon and Colleen took the lead on setting up great key meetings in Chile for this topic.  Rochelle worked to schedule a meeting to give us a great viewpoint from an individual entrepreneur in farming.  And Margaret had a wonderful personal contact with a CEO that we could learn a lot from.

All in all we had 10 team meetings arranged before we took our first flight (these came in very last minute as vacations ended just the week before our trip in Chile/Peru) and several more solidified after we landed.  We also helped share additional contacts with the other teams.

In hindsight, a lesson learned from our team experience would be to try to divide and conquer more.  Our team set out to try to attend all meetings together when possible.  And while this helped us be sure we captured all of the information from the discussion, I think it left us all with our heads spinning from the back to back travel and tight schedules.  On our team day in Peru, we were forced to divide and split up across meetings.  This was tough as we all wanted to be in attendance but it just wasn’t feasible to be in two places at the same time.  If I were to start at the beginning, I would try to align each meeting with a single owner/facilitator and separate note taker and then give the rest of the team either another meeting or some scheduled down time.

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