Health Environment Foundation (HEF) is a None Governmental Organization (NGO) that was founded by Samson our chairman and dully registered with the relevant authorities. At the early stages HEF had ten members: Samson, George, Francis, Washington, Maurice, Irene, Louise, Dorcas, Peninah and Bill. Somewhere along the way we have lost Irene Louise and Peninah through attrition. The organization has a number of good ideas that it plans to exploit so that it can generate income. All members live and work in the city.
However we would like the benefits of our projects to be enjoyed by the less fortunate living in any part of the state or country. We are yet to decide on whether we will operate at the consultant level or at the grass roots. We used to contribute enough to pay for an office but stopped when we realized that none of us used the office and it was used only for meetings once a month. We have a constitution that lays down how to conduct business. The other day Samson mailed us HEF’s organizational chart.
Knowing about my academic interests in management, Samson designated the position of Fund Raiser to me. Though I am not getting paid for any services I render, I am motivated and would like to see HEF move from its state of lethargy to one of activity. We have had two years knowing each other and forming into a team as well as exploring projects we can do. I believe the time now is ripe for us to move into action. It may not be easy though. The Problem with HEF To identify the reason why HEF has never got off the ground, the problem identification procedure is employed.
Zikmund’s procedure which starts with “ascertaining the decision maker’s objectives, understanding the background of the problem, Isolating and Identifying the problem rather than its symptoms, determining the unit of analysis, determining the relevant variables and finally stating hypotheses and research objectives” (pg94) will suffice. Searching questions that start from the most abstract and move towards the most tangible are used. What are the goals of HEF? HEF’s mission is ‘to improve peoples health as well as the physical environment they live in.
To achieve our goal, we are to carry out our objectives which are: to engage in agricultural, health as well as environmental projects that bring change to the community, fund raise through the writing of project proposals, engage grass root community organizations in our target area(s) for actual implementation of the project(s) and finally monitor and periodically evaluate HEF’s progress. In considering the goals, where does progress halt? No one seems to follow up on what we decide to do.
Information contained in minutes of past meetings indicates that planned activities are not carried out. Who is involved…the manager, the employees, and the stakeholders? All HEF members participate. How long has this problem existed? Very little has been achieved for the two years HEF has been in operation. What and how are expectations and requirements communicated? Francis, our secretary circulates meeting minutes. Every meeting seems to be a brain storming session without tangible results. When expectations and key deadlines are missed, what happens? No action is taken.
There is no structure in place to call the members charged with the failed activities to account for the failure. We seem to be behaving like the Astronomer in Aesop’s fable looking at the stars-we only strategize and fail to notice the well on the ground-we do not have tactical steps of achieving our objectives and hence we have fallen inside the well-our operations are nil. (Discover. com) What factors contribute to the problem? Specific variables related to the HEF’s management need to be addressed. (Zikmund)These are: Terms of reference, Responsibility and accountability.
Are technical skills or training contributing to the problem? Yes indeed. We need expertise in proposal writing, fund raising, and web design. After the above deliberations, HEF’s problem can be stated as: due to lack of division of duties in the organization, individual members do not have Terms of Reference that guide their action. No one therefore knows what is expected of them and therefore the organization lacks the muscle to make members demonstrate responsibility, and accountability in conducting organizational duties. Change is the only remedy.
I recommend the approach suggested by Patterson and Patten on making ‘crucial confrontations’ to each HEF member so as to ‘bridge the gap between performance and expectation. ’ After assigning every member a specific job, we will ‘pour the foundation of accountability’ by teaching accountability and talking about violated expectations and broken promises. ’ (Par 16) To ensure results the HEF leadership will then establish a habit of thinking ‘CPR’ (Content, Pattern Relationship) every time the have a crucial confrontation with a member. That is if a member misses a deadline talk content what just happened-why did you miss the deadline?
When they miss three times talk pattern-It is not just this one instance of missing a deadline, it is the trend of missing deadlines that I’d like to talk about. If this does not solve the problem then talk relationship-Could we talk about our working relationship? You don’t seem reliable. (Patterson and Patten Par17-19) This approach will surely fire the organization to action. It is my hope that HEF will not have; like the tower of Babel fallen down by the time its leadership completes teaching the team the language of accountability.