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Strategic Communication Workshop held in Sarajevo

Article by Maggie Spivey

Key members of the Mine Action community in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) attended the workshop, “Collaborative Strategic Leadership in Complex Environments: Strategic Communication in Mine Action,” June 28-30 in Sarajevo, BiH.

The workshop is part of an ongoing initiative of two NATO-recognized Partnership for Peace Training and Education Centers (PTCs): the BiH Peace Support Operations Training Centre (PSOTC) and the Naval Postgraduate School, the U.S. PTC (USPTC).  The Naval Postgraduate School (USPTC) has engaged a team of faculty and subject matter experts to conduct this ongoing program.  Led by Mr. Jeffrey Munks, consultant to NPS, the NPS team includes Dr. Gail Thomas and Dr. Susan Hocevar, both Associate Professors with the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy.

During the workshop, the NPS team built upon foundations laid during their September 2010 workshop held in Sarajevo.  They also strove to enrich and advance the work accomplished by BiH Mine Action community members under the guidance issued in November 2010 by the governmental Mine Action Center (BH MAC) in the communication planning session.  The workshop also intended to provide participants an opportunity to reinforce existing professional relationships and forge important new ones across the Mine Action community in BiH.

“For this workshop, we engaged Professor Thomas, who does strategic communication work over the world, and she used the efforts NPS has done to date within the demining community to craft a customized version of her work,” stated Munks.  “Then, we took the communication sub-strategy from BH MAC’s guidance in November 2010 and the approach Gail developed and adapted, and we and applied it to the work that is already under way in the country.  We showed the participants strategies, tactics, and tips for improving and implementing the planning document that they have already begun work on.”

The workshop included high-level participants from key entities within the demining community.  From the Armed Forces of BiH Operational Command, the Deputy Commander for Operations and the Head of the Demining and Explosive Ordnance Department both attended, while the latter has responsibility for the largest single group of deminers in the region.

The European Union Forces (EUFOR)—the in-country United Nations authorized military force—sent a large group of attendees while other participants included three representatives from the non-governmental organization, World Without Mines Foundation, a representatives from the country’s Forest Service, and two representatives from the U.S. Embassy in country.

“For many of the participants, they have been in this field for years but have never met, so this is bringing together many people,” said Munks. “They are thrilled to have the opportunity to exchange issues and have dialogue, and there is a genuine appreciation for this ongoing effort and a desire to do more.”

“The next workshop will be held in September, and the focus will be on discreet implementation methodology—how do you translate their written plan into something that is observable, reportable, accountable, and measurable?  We will have the same group with many additional participants brought in by this group.  We will try to increase stakeholder participation.”

This collaborative effort between the two PTCs, NPS and the PSOTC, is reaching the 2-year mark, and its effect is being felt throughout the demining community.  According to Munks,  “We are seeing evidence that the collaborative strategic leadership behaviors that we are teaching are actually taking hold and becoming embedded cultural elements and norms for participants in the ongoing work they do in the field of Mine Action.”

Posted July 27, 2011




Photo credit: Peter Bertelsen





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