Organization and Leadership: Whom Can I Trust?

Since early 2007 I was directly or indirectly drawn into activities intended to forming a representative organization of the Nepalese Diasporas in Canada. Initially there was proper rhetoric, and the intentions were in building an organization founded on grassroots. Over time, however, activities were carried out in such a way that the process took away much required transparency and did not lead to an inspiring situation. The same grassroots people that were supposed to be behind the initiative seemingly felt left-out from the process and could not accept the activities as being their own. At the same time, community leaders are left with hardly any room to remain neutral. In fact, it became unethical to remain aloof and to not investigate into this matter. I am, therefore, attempting to make some critical observations on what went wrong in the process.

For some time, I was intending to keep some distance from this matter as I had enough tasks at hand to give myself an excuse. But then one of my friends phoned from Calgary and passionately told me that we all must get involved in resolving this matter. I promised to do my best in playing a positive role in bringing all concerned friends into a common forum. I thought that even if it may not be possible for all to be in the same side of the issue, it should be possible for all to be in the same hall and to debate from two sides. Continue reading

Organization and Leadership: Wrangling Over the Missions

“Let him that would move the world first move himself.” – Socrates

Organizations go through many arduous exercises to develop their vision, mission, goals and objectives in a hope to reach to a desired destiny. However, this exercise, which is deemed necessary for developing durable organizations, may not always come free of controversies. It is inevitable that ideas collide and personalities clash at one point or another during the process even when the desired destiny sought by all involved may be the same. At times, the situation may appear so frustrating that there may be no shortage of feelings of quitting the mission altogether. Yet I believe that this exercise is more than necessary and is not so dangerous after all.

I am pondering over this matter in recent times as I came across a series of debates carried over a chain of emails among friends all originally inspired to build an organization of Nepalese Diasporas for advancing policy development, policy advocacy, and demonstration of novel approaches through pilot projects in Nepal. However, these debates sometimes appear never abating among some participants while some others seem to gradually disappear from the scene. This created a situation where pessimism seemed to rule over the optimism in contrast to the beginning of the process. Continue reading

In Search of Organization: Where is the Fall?

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

In Search of Organization: Expert versus Expertise

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

In Search of Organization: A Phase of Contemplation

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

Organization and Leadership: Challenges of Social Movements

Poverty, illiteracy, injustice and discrimination are so prevalent and entrenched in Nepal that a fight against them is more difficult than achieving economic progress solely measured in GDP. Even though people of dominant social orders and marginalized Dalits are of same ethnicity and race, their overall socio-economic standings are vastly different. The plights of women, Madhesi, Jumli, Dalit, Janajati, Sukumbasi or any marginalized people are deeply troubling. Over time, these disturbances have awakened those few and far between intellectuals that emerge out of those marginalized communities. These esteemed people are restless to find effective solutions to these problems of the society. However, so much energy is drained in the debates on the semantics of the slogans that there is hardly any energy left to go to the bottom of the problem. And this problem of getting stuck on slogans was prevalent then when I had just stepped foot in the Kathmandu Valley a quarter century ago in search of education, and it is still as strong now. Continue reading