Visit to Kenya Suppliers

September 30th, 2017

Project Management challenges in Kenya

I recently had the privilege of spending 10 days in Africa, working with the leaders of a centre which brings together Artisans in Kisii, Western Kenya to work in a cooperative environment to create beautiful art and practical items made from the locally quarried soapstone. I have been working with these inspirational leaders for several years to develop new products and markets for them and experienced at first hand their many challenges, including exchanging ideas around how to improve the management of their Projects.

Each Project consists of the production and supply of quality products to a wholesale customer overseas. For example, to fill a 20 foot container with 10000 individual items, the stone must be quarried by hand, cut by saw, transported then sculpted, painted and polished all by hand, transported 10 hours by road, packed in a container and shipped from Mombasa by sea, all to fixed time, cost and quality.

We discussed quality, risk & dependency management and how this can be incorporated into an overall Project plan to provide the best chance of success.

I learned that a practical, hardworking, sleeves rolled up approach with a focus on stakeholder engagement and which recognises the environmental challenges was definitely required.

This is also the approach I recognise Pcubed providing for our clients, though in a very different physical environment.

Key Risks included a reliance on an extremely limited range of tools, lack of transport, and extremely limited budget (the Fair-Trade piece is for another day!) 

For example, quarrying is carried out by axe with the constant risk of cave-ins, a machete will be the single tool used to create a beautifully detailed sculpture and heavy stones are transported for miles on the back of motorbikes. 

These risks and issues are mitigated with work arounds, flexibility and hard work. There is no reserve budget to dip into, only an extremely well-developed stakeholder map that provides contingency through equitable exchange of favours.

Working with such welcoming people who display a consistently flexible, hard-working, can-do attitude in an environment where the challenges are daunting was eye opening, humbling and a huge learning experience in itself, with many P3M lessons to take away.

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2016 – Shona Art – wow!

December 28th, 2016

2016 was quite a year for us! Including our first container from Zimbabwe – full of Shona art. Love the Shona pieces – created from the heart, like the ones below, mainly from Serpentine stone.

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