There comes a time when an extensionist's work becomes sufficiently complex and influential to warrant a formal management approach. Complexities arise when the extensionist begins working on more than one project. Work then occurs on several levels at once, and disorder can set in. It is then time to consider with more formal care and consideration what is being done and how it is being done.
Throughout service, an extensionist must maintain a clear sense of direction and purpose. Working on the village level and concentrating on details, this is not always easy to do. Management skills can help with this. Management is the art of "putting it all together".
There are three disciplines to master in management:
• carrying out plans
• evaluating results
Evaluation always leads back into planning because management is cyclical and its disciplines are regularly repeated in sequence. There are four general levels of management:
• one's own work
• counterparts and coworkers
For each level the three basic disciplines of management pertain.
When a management approach is employed in agricultural extension, the overall extension process looks like this:
The drawbacks of undertaking a management approach to extension work need to be taken into account. The role of the manager can easily become self-serving, the extensionist can become a despot. There is also the danger of inappropriate formality, resulting in "mini-bureaucracy". By being ever-mindful of the goal of capacitating farmers and promoting their autonomy, by managing WITH and not FOR farmers, these tendencies can be curtailed.
Another common pitfall of energetic extensionists is to take on too much work. By trying to do too many diverse tasks, the extensionist can promote chaos instead of wholeness and shallowness instead of thoroughness. Management planning includes the skill of defining priorities and assessing limitations.
Many of the tools provided in earlier chapters are management tools with which to plan, carry out or evaluate village extension activities. The management point of view, (the three disciplines), can become second nature after a while. Through diligent practice, (even when events seem very uncomplicated on the surface), an extensionist can cultivate a coherent work style.
A simple way to practice management is to think in clear categories that form a whole picture. The following is a picture of thinking in categories and seeing how thoughts fit together. The grid is then filled in to provide an example or illustration.