Change hurts... It creates winners and losers
Counterparts do not always realise the real consequences of the changes to be made
Understanding cultural nuances and cultural differences and staying acutely attuned to context, circumstance, and relationships can help an advisor identify gaps in capacity.
This understanding and awareness will create a positive impression of the advisor, and encourage a reciprocal relationship in which the advisor and counterpart can identify gaps together.
In some instances, your host government or institution could be extremely enthusiastic about a proposed change. However, this initial enthusiasm may decrease or disappear as more details about the steps that need to be taken to achieve this change become clear and your counterparts realise the actual cost of change to them.
In such situations, you will need to gather political buy in for the proposed change. This could be done by identifying champions, highlighting the payoffs of the proposed action, reframing the proposal and communicating the reasons and the consequences of the action to all concerned.
Care should be taken not to short-circuit the local dimension. You should ensure that you engage and consult with local actors as much as possible. Your local counterparts should not feel as though change is being imposed on them from outside. Additionally, your proposals should not undermine or duplicate existing structures or practices. Finally, you need to be empathetic to your counterparts’ hesitations. Your colleagues may, in principle, agree with the need for change, but supporting the proposed action may threaten their professional and/or personal well-being. It could, for example, cost your counterparts their job, or in some instances, their lives. Keep in mind that you will complete your mission and return to your own country or institution. Your counterparts, on the other hand, will have to deal with the consequences of the actions you propose. Acknowledging this reality will help you propose more pragmatic and locally oriented solutions.