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A few weeks ago another cryptocurrency disaster made a shocking headline.
$1.4 Trillion dollar value was lost out of the Sam Bankman-Fried's FTX and its overall effect on the crypto-world. Why charities are banking on the crypto potential for giving until now is such a childish response? The volatility of this sector is such that you can trust your dog to go home after a day's out more than your crypto dollars to work for you. You can't trust a system when you know that there are no guarantees, no protections, no legitimacies, and no governance that underpin any modern system, whether it's the financial, political, social, and economic in nature.
Philanthropy, charity and giving must veer away from high-stakes, high-loss ventures when ordinary people's monies are at stake. What charity can afford to gamble these hard-earned monies earned from the skyrocketing inflations for the sake of creating a new approach, model, or vehicles?
In the banking world, trust is not just a philosophical value, it's the no. 1 operative word. Crypto is made-up money and before you know it, it's gone without a clue. Charities, check your donors and keep safe from the minefields of volatile approaches.
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Who in the world needs an objective outsider who can express and provide expert opinion that you won't need another second opinion for?
We all need one. In any stage of organizational life, an objective, impartial adviser provides a breath of fresh air. No compromises, no biases, no hidden agenda, no political dynamics. Just pure wisdom culled through experience, practice, and their own observations to serve your best interests.
Then why most Boards and Executive Committees do not anticipate and avail of an outsider perspective to help them make some of these most important decisions?
Fear of making the advisor privy to all the problems and turmoil they face which can be quickly mitigated through a confidentiality agreement and proper guarantees.
Fear of letting new ideas dominate that they haven't vetted or garnered buy-ins.
Fear of being threatened with a new person in the room.
Previous bad experience.
No experience whatsoever in this support.
Never cross their mind.
It could be a number of things. Whatever the reason, this is another missed opportunity for executives to remove themselves from the entrenched philosophies, mentalities, and positions in the organization and intentionally broaden their perspective. You have to bring in this element because amongst yourselves, the results could be a half-baked compromise which erodes any expected gains.
We all need it. You need an objective outsider regardless whether your going swimmingly well amidst turbulence or you are trying to survive. For one thing, the most value you can get from an objective outsider advisor is being truthful, identifying the 'it' that's sucking all other attempts to grow and improve to allow you to make the quickest resolution possible.
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Today's managers must contend with some tough calls to make: when a staff is not performing satisfactorily and will never be able to meet up the work expectations no matter what. Firing the employee before it moves to a new role in the organization is the wisest thing to do. This is an opportunity to not just maintain the present work standards of the organization but to improve and innovate how these new recruits can enlarge the impact of the roles.
The reason why bad employees continue to exist is because their managers turn a blind eye to the situation until it presents more trouble. The costs of addressing a growing issue which would involve more absenteeism, team mates suddenly resigning, failure or incomplete work, customer service issues and concerns would be staggering to any organization large or small. Preventing that person to move around as if, he or she is a stellar employee and could be 'rehabilitated' could be a wishful thinking.
I saw first hand in my previous work employment that once a bad hire is allowed to continue performing in a substandard way, more trouble ensues. That employee caused a major havoc in the organization by refusing to follow ethical standards with financial disbursement of funds and abuse her authority by side-stepping the counsel of the Board and advisers of the organization. She caused the organization to be bankrupt and because there was no money to finance the daily operations, the organization had to decide to move the operations to another location and start anew with a very limited financial base. She was terminated but it caused major reputational damage and rift between the stakeholders that it took a while to get those back by the successor leadership.
Lesson of the story. When a person shows you who he/she really is, believe it. If the employee is not in the place where he/she could be ethical and meets work expectations, start the dialogue now and not later. Keep your documentation updated and address current issues that you observe in more than one instances. Don't wait for the legendary annual reviews or quarterly assessment. Always check in for improvement and growth purpose.
Lastly, keep your eye on the larger scheme of things. As a manager, you want all of your employees to excel in their jobs. It is also your responsibility to provide support, enabling environment, and encouragement. If all things fail, and you don't see the employee putting it the right commitment and effort, it's time to make some tough calls.
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How many organizations have strategies that are unimplemented? You will never know unless you get inside the cubicle.
This is not just prevalent in the profit sector, not for profit organizations are as well not implementing their strategies.
I question this: if the strategies are not implemented, why are they expending their staff time and managerial attention on something that will not be used at all? There is simply no logic to this!
When I asked an Executive Director why not? The answer I got was: "We just make this because of our funders. We have to wait for the funding cycle to begin to really create a strategy that will restructure the way we work. For now, it will be just a transitional one."
Fair enough. I get the point of transitional strategy. Emergent design is what the current climate calls. Managers and executives must adapt to the rigors and demands of modern organizations where supply chain issues, financing and sustainability, climate and diversity challenges, impact day-to-day decisions.
But non-implementation is a totally different issue. I vehemently challenge the notion of doing something for something else's and not for the benefit of the creator.
What drives this performative action is a culture of obligation, 'looking good,' and conformity.
In my book Provocateurs, I discussed how the culture of conformity creates conditions for organizations to punish early-warning signs of problems and issues, which leads to you know, failures. The same culture of conformity outlaws innovation, creativity, and simply rebellious thinking that shifts control and power.
Your donors do not know you're doing this. Probably, I bet, that this practice is not something that is generally accepted and outwardly legitimized. But because this is what's happening, I also bet that this is not a one-off deal. More organizations are acting this way despite what management books are saying.
Practice defines organizations. Tell me who's not implementing their strategy, and I will tell you there's more to the strategy than meets the eye.
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I heard this term a few weeks ago. It is mostly akin to 'green washing' but this time its about how organizations proclaim impact when in fact it's a false, misleading or unproven claim. It's also impact washing when the impact declared or reported did not grow out of the interventions claimed but other causal factors or intervening factors are present, thus other contesting views of explanation exist.
The extent of impact washing is hard to measure but just take for example, how organizations paddle up the numbers or massage the situations in order to meet donor standards or comply with requirements, without truly addressing the complexities of the unintended consequences their actions can impact or effected.
In my book Provocateurs not Philanthropists, I problematize the issue of short-term breakthroughs over the obsession for large-scale, massive, dramatic impacts and successes on the ground. Listening to a keynote last week from a multilateral global innovation facility programme, I can't help but feel more alienated. The search for a "major scalable project" is such that new, grassroots, or micro-projects will not be able to meet this. The logics are miles apart.
Given the 'innovation plus humility' mantra, I wonder how many of these innovations are actually taken up by the government or private sector to grow after being cocooned by grants and innovation finance so that national development owners take charge of this growth? Are they concerned with eco-systems development, taking a holistic role, rather than a project piece on
the economic development pie or with national priorities? I hope that humility culture goes down to the partners and grantees as well, because success without integrity is untenable and deceptive.
Impact washing happens at both micro and macro levels. It's not only the outcomes that matter but how do you get to these outcomes and what happens on the way.
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You practically have three months to go before the year ends.
Look back at your 2022 Major Goals and Plans and ask yourself:
1. Did I accomplish what I planned to do?
2. Where am I in the spectrum of not done versus ongoing or complete?
3. What has been the major success factors in achieving these this year?
4. What are the major obstacles for completion?
5. What or with whom should I be communicating my progress?
6. THE MOST IMPORTANT: How can I use the last remaining three months to get me closer to my larger goals. What success habits can I repeat?
If you're winning every time, chances you don't need this reminder.
But in on-purpose world and beyond, reality sucks. High inflation, flattened economy, supply chain woes, decreasing donations and charitable giving, higher donor standards, compliance issues impact the sector. There are many persistent issues to deal with than what meets the eye.
At the start of 2022, you started the year with such hopefulness and gung-ho attitude, it's time to use that same level of energy to win the race.
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This is getting way too much.
A company just signed on to sponsoring meals for the homeless and put it out on Linkedin.
Another one hired their first Black staff in the team as part of the #Blacklivesmatter.
The CEO posted his video crying that he has to dismiss his workers because of tough times.
I have seen a woman saying that she overcame racism, bullying, gaslighting in the past and now very successful in a skimpy outfit.
Another organization is looking for a DEI specialist to help them set up a strategy their own but the qualifications include BIPOC, indigenous, etc.
Why this is unacceptable? It's all for a show.
If companies are really serious about diversity, equity, and inclusion, it shows not in the strategy but how everything is about DEI.
If companies are truly into social impact, it should show in the business model, not just corporate philanthropy and 'looking good.'
Why only Black, or indigenous or BIPOC? If it's mean to achieve equity, set far greater inclusion standards where all racialized population can benefit.
Don't put all these values on your website you'll never practice. It's better for you to under promise and over deliver.
Remove the performative. Let's all be real.
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Every year, we enjoy the agricultural show in our community. A small club of mighty volunteer assemble this event annually with little or no external support but with much passion and dedication. Next year, we heard that there will be no more shows forthcoming.
In-fighting within the club members had stalled any meaningful action. The conflict teared the organization apart.
I heard that politics is the main cause of the conflict. If politics is the culprit, then what can we do? Separate the politics from the real issues. In this case, inclusion issues- how new entrants can join without the barriers imposed by the incumbents? Explore a win-win solution to those who are saying no and those who want to expand the criteria for membership. Negotiation is key. Active listening is a must. Get parties to talk on real issues and stop the personality fights.
Politics can never be avoided because there's people. If there's people, there's always politics. But politics should not be negative and detrimental. By justifying that politics is it, it sounded like it's unmanageable and completely out of resolution. This is further from the truth and practice.
As a Rotary Peace Fellows, we study how politics and entrenched perspectives dilute real efforts to genuine peace and reconciliation. Sovereignty, equity, autonomy, justice from past wrongs, claims to resources, among others are the larger concerns for which violence and conflicts are just mere conduits for action, unfortunately.
If we only set aside politics and let valid issues become the center of the discussion, we can begin to break down the seemingly intractable positions and let people begin to embrace a more rationale direction.
Politics is that ugly justification for anything that breaks down in organization. Although, sometimes it is really politics for which an executive must separate the chaff from the wheat, most of the time, the real issues are the heart of the matter.
Discern wisely and then you can decide the best course of action to take.
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We all know that success doesn't come from improving your weakness but by working on your strengths.
Your organization should know exactly where you're good at, where you're mediocre at, and where you are failing miserably.
As mission-based, mandate-driven organizations, your whole DNA is predisposed towards your mission, supported by your values systems. This should be immune to the latest fads, trends, dogmas, and presentism.
I have known an organization who started working on many areas in their programming apart from their core service: climate mitigation, disaster risks reduction, violence against women, microfinance, sustainable livelihoods, forestry, fair trade ventures, among other things. They found out that none of these make sense if their core service needs are not fully met. In the end, they focused on what they're good at and their main reason for being: poverty reduction and education for women and girls.
Do not allow other people to tell you what to do, simply because the rest of your peers started doing it. Simply put, if knitting is your thing, stay knitting happy!
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In the purpose-driven space, sustainability is a catch-all phrase for planetary, social, environmental, and economic well-being in communities, nations, and in the world. But how many in this space are actually financially and organizationally sustainable?
Doing good, being good is a good mission. But being good but not being smart is deadly and bordering on hypocrisy. To become a truly sustainable force in the world, your organization must walk the talk and talk the walk.
One organization is a one-funder business model. Another one has one staff and hundreds of volunteers trying to get to another impact goal. Another organization is penny-pinching on much-needed reorganization costs just because the Board didn't think they need it. Another one is simply mired with employee issues that do not reflect well on their values statements.
In this circuit, the holier-than-thou attitude is almost always invoked. Yet, this complacent, self-congratulation is partly the reason for why the same sector proclaiming sustainability isn't sustainable either.
Best practices are out there. When corporates and profit-seeking ventures are hit hard on sustainability, the sector must face the same music and should be held accountable for it.