Monday, April 02, 2007


Clash of priorities

Letter to Mrs Assad:

After much consideration, I have decided to ask you if I can stand down as Director of the Trust’s Learning Division.  I realise that to do so will have many practical consequences, and is likely to throw a large burden onto others.  Nevertheless, I feel that I must make this request for the following reasons.

I cannot give adequate attention to Massar.  As the project grows in size, complexity, profile and risk, I am increasingly worried about the relatively small amount of time and focus I can now devote to it.  At the very least, I used to be able to have Massar’s situation constantly up to date and at the front of my mind; now I feel that the detail is slipping from my grasp, and with it the sense of confidence and control which is vital to its delivery.  Massar is the reason I came to Syria, and remains my priority.  I am letting it and the team down by not doing justice to it.  The Kafar Souseh touring activity was the first I have managed to visit this year.

The role of Learning Division Director is, I am afraid to say, proving completely unsatisfactory.  As an interface between projects and the Trust, it is a dispiriting, time-consuming and problem-laden task, for which there is no administrative support in the Division, and which again I cannot wholly devote my time to doing properly.  As a Director of the Trust I have to devote time to EMT business and organisational development, generally trying (apparently unsuccessfully) to keep the Trust’s and Division's focus on projects rather than administration.  As leader of the Learning projects work and teams I have to coordinate, represent, and motivate.  Were this my only job I would probably still not enjoy it much, but I would be able to do it properly.  Right now I am letting the Trust down, and myself, and you, again.

With the mounting pressure of Massar, the current situation is likely only to get worse.  Of these two roles, I believe realistically one has to go, or both will collapse.  Selfishly, I think it should be the Trust Director role.  The prospect of working for the next three years on achieving Massar still inspires me; the prospect of three years of Trust work does the opposite.  For the first time since I started work here, after the last trip to London I was not desperate to get back to Damascus.   
It would be good to talk this through if you can bear it. If there is another way forward, I will gladly consider it.


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