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The Effective Establishment: Small Is Smart
It is advised in the discussions, such as the issues, as “Small is Smart,” to make a comparative prospective, covering itself, and the one that is perhaps opposite to it. There are, to begin with, numerous ministries without proper, meaningful inter-agency work for resolving the everyday problems, competence-wise, our public experience, and/or the agencies themselves, lacking co-ordination, and a sense of direction, for addressing competence-based issues that involve their briefs. The situation is very crude, and is perhaps very unclear that there are a lot of duplications done, the result of which takes us follow the road to nowhere.
The scenario analyzed is entangled with all sorts of bureaucratic elements, which basically create routineness, unfriendliness etc. as far as service-provisions, which exist as services verbally, are concerned. The later are unfriendly, monotonous, and resist to changes being made, which is partly because those personnel, who do manage the organizations lack the expertise to running them effectively, and partly because the bosses, who do feel vulnerable, do not seek the help that could enable them improve the ways in which their agencies are run, as everything that involves around that very issue is seen as a big threat, towards removing the bosses from offices. It is argued that our businesses are managed by hit-and-trial-errors, so long as no change is made and/or is endeavored along these lines.
There are several constraints, which make the bureaucratic elements discussed operate as well as the fact that the caliber of our team members is very poor. The information flow between our organizations is damn slow. And the communication processes are a one-way-traffic system. It is advised, within management realm, that information, being a vital ingredient, regarding decision-making processes, should be a-two-way-communication factor i.e. top-bottom, and bottom-top, to actually enable everyone concerned, follow what really occurs in an organization, such as the work performances of the employees, their morale, the relationship between themselves, and their bosses, the nature of decision-making processes etc.
The accountability phenomenon is equally important, making value, for our public resources, and obviously knowing how serious, and how honest are our top personnel. This includes who does what, and who doesn’t. The idea there is finding out if duties assigned to them are completed, and how? Or if not why?
The issue of accountability under which supervision, and inspection come, is like going into a shop without knowing your financial position, and like-wise, our development programmes are at risk, if no accountability, which sharpens auditing, is not done constantly, to finding out whether a financial year has favorable conditions for implementing a development project, such as building a hospital, a school etc and/or if bosses running our ministries are competent, honest, reliable etc.
The most alarming hurdle to our development is the government’s various, and many ministry, virtually a symbol for our society’s make-up, sociologically speaking. The problem envisaged here is the waste in resources allocated to the employees there as salaries together with their offices’ equipments as computers, the internet facilities, chairs, tables etc, let alone the transport, and its fuel. It is entangled with management problems such as establishing an effective inter-agency work for addressing the mess collectively, and/or lack of clarity of their roles; who does what categorically? The caliber of the work force adds more fuel to the fire, which puts us in a very daunting situation.
Our Socio-economic circumstance is very stark, and perhaps very grim. Our country, being very poor, has very “limited resources,” as previously pointed out. It is said a bird in hand is worth than ten birds in the bush. The point I am trying to make is we should make use of the available resources, the taxation, which is “haphazardly collected,” and for which meticulous planning is needed to use it effectively, and efficiently.
Everything functions smoothly, for development sake, when fresh blood fires out, as it has got the strength, and the stamina to committing itself to doing it, by wholeheartedly managing an organization, its objective of which is achieving fruitful results. The issue of reshuffling the cabinet bosses, as expertises’ on offer march their specifications, exactly fits into that fixture. It is also recommended, within development circles, to make it a practice, the idea it conveys is, to enrich the revenue, by saving money. The situation, as it is now, is quite contrary to the picture just drawn. The reshuffling issue, unlike the rest of the world, is not in our business agenda. The lack of the former makes our organizations resistant to positive changes, due to our human nature being greedy, and being tempted, to becoming rich, from the blue.
The present administration has taken positive steps into the right direction. It has made noises to be heard internationally for our Sovereignty, for which its qualifications are imminent i.e. peace, and stability. It has also held fair elections, that did put us in the World picture, by educating, and by informing the international observers, who were witnessing it that equality, and fairness are our norms to respect. There are, however, shortfalls that attract attention by seeking their solutions. The government has the duty via its politicians, its parliamentarians, to develop having constant communication channels in the form of dialogues, and/or seeking the views of its citizens, by consulting them about plans, developments etc. The later calls for thorough, but systematic contemplations on its part, after holding public meetings, consultations etc. This factor, being a living witness, was the sole cause for the government doing badly in the election. And the administration, I am told, is yet again playing a dirty game of cheating other parties, by doing everything it could to balancing the equilibrium, number-wise, in the parliament.
The efficiency of the organizations is another factor worth examining. It is certainly the case that huge funds are injected into them. And no wonder, their rate-of-return is almost nothing. The first response a development expert comes up with is, the ministries are many, and so too is their funding. The size issue plus the caliber of its work force are very crucial in development arenas, as Small is Beautiful, in terms of information flow, accountability, auditing, inspection etc.
There is the opposition, on the other side of the coin, whose objective is to run the country, when such an opportunity arises. And for that to happen, it should closely monitor the government’s performance to find out any irregularities, loopholes etc to take advantages of in order to win the hearts, and the minds of many, many voters when the right time comes. The idea is to have two different parties, one of which is the government, which are complementary to one another, as far as bettering services, public relations, development etc are concerned.
The nature of, and the reality with the opposition here is quite bizarre, because the motives of the two parties in question are absolutely different. It may be a very important thing for our safety, and existence; the government may support it, whereas the opposition may reject it. The recent expellation of the European Union Agent from our country interprets it, and falls in line with the scenario just discussed for which, as very close sources argue, being a journalist, supports the government’s position of fulfilling its responsibilities of just doing it. The government, on behalf of its citizens, should safeguard their safety, and their welfare as the agent did fiddle issues relating to our national interests out. The opposition, on that particular occasion, wronged the rights of its citizens, who may eventually distance themselves from it, by invalidating its argument at that moment in time. The whole purpose of politics is to run a country. And, to make that happen, a political party must win the hearts, and the minds of its citizens, by empowering them, and by committing itself to just doing its level best to developing them, by involving the public democratically in its decision-making processes.
Now the scene is set, let us go right into our main event head-on. It is said that “Small is Beautiful,” the meaning of which is, whatever is small in size, content etc is very good, because it is manageable, and is easily dealt with. A small team, for example, whose members are small in number is seen to have its members supervised, and is in a good position to have information circulated amongst its members in a much more faster ways than the case would have been with a bigger one, whose members are numerous comparatively.
The same issue is true, and is possibly valid within academic circles, in which it is recommendable to have a 1:15 ratio between a tutor, and his/her class. That is certified, after teaching, and running the class were seen from different prospectives, by taking the students’ abilities range, his/her accessibilities to them, the chances of asking him/her questions, and/or the students making comments etc into consideration. Likewise, undertaking a research and/or a piece of writing attract a narrow topic than a broad one. The idea is to analyze a topic from A-Z, by discussing its unique features, unless otherwise comparative studies are in progress, and the topics are introduced to those members, who are undertaking it.
The smallness issue in question covers both the size, and the caliber of the work force. The matter, under discussion, addresses the qualitative aspect, in terms of effectiveness, and efficiency. The whole exercise is exactly in conjunction with Corporate Management, renowned for its two-way-information flow, between the managers, and the being managed. The interaction expressed, obviously is made possible because the size of the team is small. A Japanese team in a plant for manufacturing cars, whose remit, for example, is to be responsible for fixing mirrors, falls into this category. This ten-member-team or so applies Corporate Management decision-making processes, in which the manager there invites every member of the team make his/her own decision under the circumstances. A time is given, as part and parcel of their work programme, during which every member talks about his/her decision, and answers any questions being asked by the rest. The individual discussions lead to a team analysis in which the best decision-making process, known as the Blueprint is chosen. That is exactly the reason why Japan has left the West in the dust.
The issue of Smallness, being very effective, has, however, its own problems of which its selection is too difficult to be made, simply because there is a dearth of skilled manpower around. The later that does occur in the scarcity have unique qualifications with which the majority of us lack. That automatically gives those who have it the privilege of being managing us. It is advised for that management to produce results to take the right person to the right post. It is also recommended, by the same token, to involve everybody in our decision-making processes at the grassroots’ levels, by consulting the people, and by listening to their views, concerns etc sensitively, because it is them who needs the services, so that everything is reflected in our plans, and in our programmes for development.
The establishment, being small, becomes very effective, and very efficient, by enjoying adequate information flow, and by facilitating, and strengthening it between all parties in such a way that information goes to and from every institution. And with it goes with the quality of decision-making processes that sharpen, and straighten the smooth running mechanisms of the establishment.
The accountability factor is easily addressed, by engaging the personnel that is responsible for doing it, and chances are every organization is seen, and is inspected thoroughly, and carefully, the result of which becomes positive, as behaving irregularly is almost nil, because who does what is known, and/or any malfunctioning system is to be identified quickly, and is to be addressed accordingly. Work, in that case, will be done, and will be appreciated, as information flows to, and from organizations smoothly, and effectively. And it should go down to the establishment to create the platforms on which information is shared and/or exchanged with the government, so that consultations are held, partnerships are established, and empowerment is given. This is like work in physics, which is done when an object is moved from point A to point B, as information flow is an integral part for doing businesses. It also betters the quality of the decision-making processes made.
The skilled team is what our establishment needs because every member brings along with him/her skills that are meant to cover the responsibilities of our organizations as part, and parcel of their competencies. The team members, being enlightened, should approach all agencies like The United Nations’, The Developed World, The Arab League etc for possible technical assistance in the form of development projects, by writing, and by coming up with the project proposals that specifically address the needs highlighted and/or identified. The approach made in response to the discussed issues should be followed up, after monitoring, and evaluating them.
It is said that honesty is the best policy, the connotations it conveys is that the team members must be very honest, and should be very serious about their roles. That factor itself unlocks many avenues for our development, by industriously exploiting every possible opportunity that may arise, be it co-operation, and that of assistance, as the issue of distributing power amongst the team members must be the rule other than the exception. Everyone of them should be analytical, dynamic, and active team member, by making valuable contributions to the team meetings held, and should respect confidentiality issues discussed during those meetings because there will be confidential and/or sensitive information in their business meetings.
It is advised to make the reshuffling phenomenon a good practice in order to avoid corruption, and routineness, as previously written, taking our socio-economic circumstances, being very poor into consideration, because members running agencies longer than necessary start practicing corruption as a matter of draining resources, by personifying services towards the public, by dealing only with the members from the public whose interests are there with those agencies. The least problem inherited, as already said clearly, and loudly, is a tax-exempt situation, a big loss for the revenue, and for the poor citizen who needs it for development issues.
The best way forward is to conduct business nationally from a unified front. This is because our teams, the government, and the opposition are complementary to one another, and issues must be addressed holistically for the betterment of both our country, and our communities. It has been pointed out in the past, for our well being, that the parties are like our nine biological systems to maintain our very survival, and with one malfunctioning the others are all affected.
The politicians, and the parliamentarians of the government, and the other parliamentarians from the opposition arguably link up the government, and the opposition with their constituencies respectively, and in the process, as mentioned in the past, time, and again, should act an effective representatives between themselves, by channeling information to, and from them; presenting local demands from the constituencies in the form of projects etc, obviously with the national academy’s assistance, and inputs. And their ambassadors’ roles must be played responsibly for the benefit of the constituencies, the real seats of our people.
The last but not the least item for the parties are fulfilling their responsibilities towards their constituencies to consult our communities continuously by identifying their needs, country-wide. Those needs written in the form of project proposals should be taken to the appropriate avenues such as The European Union, The Arab League, and The USA etc for funding purposes. And whilst awaiting responses, sound, and meaningful dialogues should be held with them, by exploring opportunities of establishing bilateral relations with them. That could eventually enable us, after maintaining it responsibly, and diplomatically, achieve our golden goal, as people communicate with one another to understand each other well. I do hope the parties will do all they can to make our dreams realities.
Mr. Abdillahi Aden Hassan
(A Development Professional)