Whether it is a pyramid of Egypt, the Great Wall of China, the International Space Station, or the Children’s Machine by OLPC, all works of significance are products of organizations, whether they happen to be feudal or modern. And, all exemplify collective power of humans working in some functioning organizations. And, those of us who engage into endeavors of building organizations, whether they be philanthropic, social, or commercial, stumble onto inexplicable difficulties sooner of later. But, often we run across a number of predictable problems and the organizations lose steam not because of they had lost their relevance but because we do not know how to overcome those obstacles. Thoughts crisscross our minds with a curiosity of finding instruments for reducing the frequency and severity of the chronic diseases that plague our organizations that we embark to build.
A problem we often run across is that we build organizations without fully establishing what should be the products and services of our organization. We often have no clarity on who should be the recipients of our products or services. But the most important problem is that we have no clarity on what purpose we are seeking to fulfill through those deeds. Therefore, solving the problem of “what, for-whom, and why” is the first and foremost of our priorities. In more technical language, this process is about establishing the vision, mission, and target population of the organization.Let us imagine for a moment that our organization provides “novel-ideas” – as products – to well-meaning people who bother to read magazines, papers, and books, as well as attend meetings and conferences in search of solutions to the burning issues of the world. In that scenario, those knowledge-hungry people are our customers and our primary success should be measured against our ability to keep them happy. Our marketing is to create a perpetual voracity among our customers for the thoughts that emerge from our endeavors. And, our sales objective is to satisfy that perpetual-hunger by our products, which are our research papers, magazine articles, interaction programs, and other publications. But why should we do it any way? It must be clear whether it be for making money, advancing a political or social objective, or self-fulfillment.
Behind each success story there is a group of die-hard individuals who are passionate about the vision and mission of the organization. Therefore, forming a team of individuals that are passionately committed to the cause is the second most important task in building an organization. The next most important task is that these individuals brainstorm, study, and brainstorm till they carry distinctive knowledge about the processes and systems that are vital for building the organization. They must have clarity on the architecture of the product that they want to build and deliver it to the target population. For the organization to reach its destiny, this group of individuals must lead the organization such that in due time, processes and systems would be in place firmly and the organization would no longer require those individuals for its day-to-day operations. Therefore, developing processes and systems is the third most important task in building an organization.
A problem that surfaces at the earliest in an organization is that of the task distributions. Often time people want to take up tasks that involve glamour or sound big rather than the tasks in which they can demonstrate excellence. Consequently, we fail to break any new grounds on the assigned tasks and, therefore, do not inspire anyone. For not pouring our hearts and minds into the organization, our illusive “glamour” turns into a “fad.” Have not we seen in our communities enough “royals” who would not do anything unless the presidency is reserved for them? That is why distribution of tasks as per competencies (not the wants) and excellence in the execution of every task is extremely important for the success for an organization. Therefore, task distribution as per competency, commitment, and excellence is the fourth most important part of building an organization.
It is important to note here is that for an ingenious and entrepreneurial person, any simple sounding assignment presents a golden opportunity to shine. This is because an entrepreneurial person analyzes the strength and weakness of the system, cleans up the rubbish, strengthens the desirables, strives for excellence, and delivers above and beyond anyone’s expectation, and in turn makes a difference in the organization. We must, therefore, take every assignment as a learning opportunity and with pride if we want to be successful. A management guru once said, “Every ‘small’ project contains the entire strand of organizational DNA!” It is said that commitment beats significance! However, commitment to tasks cannot be born without passionate commitment to the vision and mission of the organization.
Success of an organization is not determined by its numbers but in its worthiness for a commitment, emotional attachment and passionate consummation. It is, therefore, apparent that we refine our processes, systems and products till we feel great to work for them, and the people whom we are catering to regard them as worthy, novel or revolutionary. What we have to offer must be fitting of the time, of quality, original, and influential. Therefore, every program we do, every articles we write, very speech we give must carry enormous weight, evoke thoughts, and inspire people to do something for or against it. In turn, we must establish a fan base and make the skeptical and critiques to be hungry for our products, even if it is only to challenge us. It is possible if we capitalize on our diversity to come up with something new and profound. To reach any place worthy of reach, we must have deliverables, well defined responsibilities, execution plan, and hard deadlines. We must establish the measures for success and a process of measurement may be based on a satisfaction scale.
Being able to convey the project with ease, passion and clarity to anyone is very important in selling them. Being able to compelling description of the project in a brief moment is supposed to be a key factor in being able to sell the organization. The key to success is that we all should live to brief! And, therefore, our project must be sellable to everyone, not just the customers, and the supporters of the project should not be taken for granted.
Finding and nurturing allies and convert anyone we can find is another important aspect of success. Maintaining supporter database and strategic relationship management are important in this endeavor. The supporters must be nurtured through constant communications. However, energy should not be spent to convert or confront those who are philosophically against the objective and aspirations of the organization. The energy should rather be spent on breaking new grounds and in taking new steps.
Breaking down the project into as small as possible elements, implementing them, tracking progress, and integrating them are necessary steps of a successful project management. Taking quick product prototypes would let us know what works and what does not, and also our strengths and weaknesses.
And then there are other “fringe” issues, which are so fatally important. For example, whole domain of utilizing women in the organization is often ignored. A vast potential for making our missions successful is fully forgotten in all the hustles and bustles of building the organization. Another issue is that like minded people must time to time meet in a common place just for hangout, feel comfortable with each other, and strengthen their friendship and trust. We have to have some programs to create sanctuaries for hangout with the team.
And then there is an often forgotten role of a wise adviser. When we run into organizational problems, we would be better off venting that to a wise adviser and find some cure for those ailments. Or, if we could, we should have a set of people in something called an advisory board and find time to spend with them. We are perceived to be as good as those who are willing to associate with us and advise us.
In doing this, we must be conscious of the needs of individuals, families, communities, nations, and the world. And, we must be able to feel that we have achieved salvation for ourselves in knowing that we contributed to build a progressive, inclusive, just, and prosperous world.