Technical capacity and staff buy-in allow organizations to move from assumption-based to knowledge-based decision-making only if the organizational processes and systems are optimized to ensure efficient use of resources, implementation of good practices and use of results. Efficient execution of programmatic and support processes, and well-functioning management and support systems empower staff to utilize their time and competence most effectively and use and share data to allow organizations to make decisions that improve performance results. Processes must be focused, lean and efficient to enable quality programming. With mature processes, roles and responsibilities are clear, providing a foundation for establishment of true results-based management system.
Investing in process and system improvements, alignment of functions and competency-based capacity building of program staff can help organizations rectify common challenges to program effectiveness, maintain accountability, prioritize resources and fix minor issues before they become major ones.
Increasing the use of evidence based decision-making is only feasible if staff have the appropriate skill-sets and are adequately engaged in the process. DME processes are more productive when all program staff have clarity of roles and responsibilities and adequate levels of DME competence are attained.
Staff that are passionate about evidence and encouraged to question, explore and understand programmatic approaches, goals and results, will be the advocates for a culture of evaluation and data use throughout the organization. Providing an environment encouraging professional development will both mitigate unproductive staff transitions and improve staff competencies and program results. Skill attainment, along with other performance metrics, should be reflected by merit-based performance management systems. Rewards and retention foster motivated and engaged staff that do better work on the ground
Social sector programming seeks to identify sustainable solutions to social problems. The complex nature of the social development space means that solutions must cut across multi-sector environments and implementers. This requires organizations to collaborate, leveraging different missions, culture, processes and systems. Subject matter experts, leaders, project managers and practitioners, need to be able to take advantage of a range of competence, both internally and externally to their own organizations in order to be successful in their individual roles and run effective programs.
Besides sector specific expertise, for example in public health, education and economic development, other non-sector-specific expertise is also required, for example, in planning, project management, technology and partner engagement. People are often learning these non-sector-specific skills on the job, frequently resulting in knowledge and skill gaps that are hard to identify and fill. Program effectiveness can be negatively impacted until the appropriate foundation of competence is developed upon which true expertize can be built.
In addition to individual competence there is also the organizational environment, which needs to be functional in order for an organization to achieve optimal levels of staff engagement and provide system level support for staff, that ensures both individuals’ and the organization’s success. The business environment comprises a range of systems including business processes, structure and models, all underpinned by organizational culture that impacts the people employed and how they behave. These systems impact ability to perform.
Experience and research shows that many social sector organizations need help building competence to design, plan and implement programs; ensure strategic leadership; understand how their processes, systems and culture impact their practice and what may need to change to bring about improvement and effectiveness.
Our goal is to improve how organizations achieve desired outcomes and how they use those outcomes to increase their organizational potential and ability for innovation in the social development space.