Each mission embarked by an organization comes up with its own complexity, size, time frame, human and material-resource requirements, and other characteristics. Accordingly, each mission brings its unique signature with it. Amidst all the uniqueness, all missions have a strong commonality: the need for a successful completion of the mission. And, for methodical “missionaries”, successful completions of missions are usual occurrences. However, sooner of later everyone would meet up with instances that pose more serious difficulties that emerge as threats to the missions, which may end up in failure if they are not mitigated in time. Therefore, the art of averting failures of a mission becomes a prized trait in any complex mission. This article hopes to share some lessons with die-hard missionaries, which we all are forced to become in unique ways.
The root cause of failure in a mission is the deficiency in its building blocks, such as strategy, plan, time, knowledge, expertise, management, employee, equipment, money, will, belief, or discipline. Some say that the human factors are the largest of all in the success and failures of missions and seek the three Cs in their personnel: Competency, Commitment, and Character. Therefore, they try to evaluate those three characters before they even induct an individual in the team. However, once all ingredients are tentatively set, the mission is embarked; the flexibilities start to diminish; and the mission starts forming a structure. Continue reading
The twists and turns of the life of thinking human can be such that we sometimes end up in situations of being the custodians of expertise or as being the agent for advancing the level of a domain knowledge expertise. As I end up in these situations time and again, I assume that many more people would encounter similar situations and my thinking-through-writing would have some utility to others.
Expertise is the skill and knowledge acquired by a person, the expert, in solving problem in a specific field. An expert knows the solutions to problems in the area of expertise far beyond what a layperson can. However, to come up with a solution, an expert may use technicians for assisting in his/her work. In the process, some technicians may develop expertise of their own and emerge as experts over time. Yet the impermanence of an expert makes us ask a question, “Can expertise be made to last longer than the expert?” Continue reading
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. Continue reading