|Organizational Performance and Change Management - Workshop proceedings - October 1-3, 1997, International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR), Philippines (IIRR, 1997)|
FIVE THEMES EMERGED from the discussions. These were:
Fit broadly means finding the right systems to realize the vision. For instance, WVI had consistency in its shared values with its 7Ss. WVI rediscovered the relevance of the 7Ss as benchmarks of organizational performance within the context of how these should be structured, and used in pursuing their vision and serving the requirements of their ministry.
MASAI affirmed this by saying that an organization is basically healthy if there is a match between its:
· programs' outputs and their respective beneficiaries' needs;
· competencies and task requirements of its programs;
· mechanisms by which needs are articulated by their beneficiaries and received by them.
A match in each of the correlations measures an organization's effectivity, efficiency and extent of participation, respectively. Any mismatch, on the other hand could mean:
· the organization is not meeting its objectives as translated into program;
· it is not using its resources properly; or
· it does not ensure participation of its beneficiaries.
Participants thought the above criteria was a sound way to measure efficiency and effectiveness. Everybody empathized with the reality of organizations overextending themselves to cater to the demands from beneficiaries, which cannot be accommodated by existing resources and mechanisms.
A common vision shared by NDGOs and the community is an important component of the strategy that should be adapted by any organization.
This last is particularly true in the case of SIBAT that depended largely on whether or not its members continued to identify with the issues it advocates.
The participants were unanimous in saying that accountability is a very important measure of their performance. Accountability means taking responsibility or being answerable for the fulfillment of commitments made to the organizations' various stakeholders or multiple beneficiaries. Many participants said that donors usually measured accountability through an organization's cost-effectiveness and efficiency in resource allocation.
On the other hand, accountability to the beneficiaries meant the achievement of both the qualitative and quantitative targets of programs intended to improve the quality of their lives. However, actual achievements were considered by many participants as indicators of performance and, therefore, considered separately under impact.
Impact is interpreted as an indicator of reach, scope or scale of development initiatives or efforts.
Measuring sustainability is a two way process. It involves continuing the development process as programs and projects at the beneficiaries' level, and the continued existence of organizations that facilitate the process themselves. For the first, sustainability directly relates to the level of capability or development achieved by the beneficiary through self-governance. For the second, sustainability is linked to managing acquired competencies and the success or mechanism installed by the organization.
One participant spoke of the financial sustainability experiences in his organization. He made it clear that NGDO sustainability should only be talked about in relation to the continued demand for its services by its beneficiaries. He then presented a radical model for attaining financial sustainability through cost-recovery measures. The model states that if beneficiaries are the reasons for an NGDO's being, then they should also be the ones who should sustain it. If beneficiaries find an NGDO's services necessary, they should ensure continuous delivery by paying for such services.
Project priorities and goals also serve as performance indicators. For example, for organizations working on community-based resource management, tenurial security for the community was considered a major indicator of success. For others, sustaining livelihood activities was a major indicator of effectiveness.
Most of the issues raised revolved around the theme of stakeholdership. Stakeholders were defined as groups having an interest and investment in the organization. For example, NGDOs have multiple stakeholders. They include the Board, staff, donors, partner-organizations, communities, other beneficiaries and target groups.
The issues raised were:
· Who sets the standards?
· Whose set of interests should ultimately indicate performance level given the often competing objectives of NGDOs? The compliance to funding agency demands or requirements? The promotion of the well-being of the beneficiaries? The viability of the NGDO? The competence gained from experience by the staff? The results of the rigorous analysis of professional evaluators or external experts?
In relation to this, how does an NGDO achieve a balance between its process and task/outcome orientation, between its service and financial sustainability objectives, without prejudicing its own as well as the interests of any of its stakeholders? And who should be accountable for either the success or failure of initiatives? Is it reasonable for funding agencies to hold unsatisfactory performances against NGDOs and use this as a justification against further funding? Or, is there a need for shared accountability of failure among all stakeholders?
What is a reasonable standard? Is it possible to come up with industry benchmarks that are acceptable to the majority of development players regardless of what sector of society they come from, whether from civil society, business or the state?
And how does an NGDO promote institutional understanding of performance benchmarks among its own staff? Is it plausible "that for most NGDOs, there seems to be a common appreciation for the usefulness of performance assessment among its members but no unified understanding of the actual indicators used in the process among them?"