The Big Challenge
Main focus is the community perspective
The community perspective is the most important perspective … it is the community where people live their lives.
Every community is unique. There should be a plan for every community. A community needs a plan in order to progress … and the plan has to be specific to the community. A plan is only a starting point … but a useful first step in improving a community and making a community more productive. Sustainable progress depends on productivity, and in turn productivity depends on decisions made about the organization and use of resources.
A community needs a plan in order to progress … and the plan should be specific to the community. A plan is only a starting point … but a key first step in improving a community and making a community more productive. Sustainable progress depends on productivity, and in turn productivity depends on decisions made about the organization and use of resources.
It is also at the community level where economic activities produce tangible results … or not. TVM uses the community as the main reporting entity because of this, and the fact that it is in the community where all the different activities in different sectors come together to produce quality of life for people.
Within in a community it is possible to do further data acquisition, analysis and reporting at the neighborhood, block and building levels. The key is for the data to be related to a place that can be easily identified and where data and reality are clearly connected.
Essential to avoid imposing decisions
Need clarity about what is what! The big challenge is to avoid a merging of planning with implementation … and to confuse data acquisition and analysis with decision making.
How to make “bottom up” real!
Making “bottom up” a reality is hard … a requires compromise so that success is not constrained because of the complex incompatibilities of cultures, management and operating styles. Planning is usually top-down. When planning is top-down, there are usually ... almost always ... significant resistance to the implementation. This may or may not be justified, but it must be taken into consideration.
My experience has been that most development planning is poor ... not taking fully into consideration the key constraints and issues that will impede success.
It is better to plan using a micro-up approach. A community centric micro-up approach changes the dynamic of development. The plans can be made taking into consideration the priorities of the community and what is most needed by the community for progress.
The NIH factor
Decision making is very much affected by the NIH factor … “Not Invented Here”!
The only way that good decisions are going to get made is when decisions are the result of trusted dialog on top of good data and analysis.
Decisions that are imposed have a high likelihood of being rejected in practical terms even though the words might suggest that there is agreement.
Planning is part of a process
Planning is a process that is ongoing so that there is a continuum of progress. The program anticipates a continuum of data acquisition and analysis so that there is critical knowledge about the community, about how much progress is being made, and what needs to be done next. Planning is based on the reality of the community and assume the following concepts:
- planning is part of a management construct;
- without planning there can be no management;
- without planning, measurement has no purpose;
- without measurement there can be no management;
- without management there is low performance;
- without metrics there is no traction;
- without structure there is no movement.
From the national level
Planning at the national level is difficult unless the nation is small and homogenous. Normally planning at the national level is ineffective because the number of different situations at the community level, and national averages are hardly every right for any hard initiative that originates with national level planning.
The national level policy making can make a big contribution to progress by ensuring that there is an enabling environment that facilitates activities at the community level that will progress the communities. Soft policy is advantageous and facilitates progress where hard projects for the community level may fail.
From the sector perspective
Planning at the sector level has similar issues to planning at the national level. Community specifics cannot be adequately taken into consideration.
But sector is very important. Technology is a powerful driver of progress, and best practice sector know-how needs to be accessible to the people who make decisions in the communities and people who make decisions in organizations. All the activities that are using resources should be using best practice for the sector.
From the organization perspective
Planning in the organization has importance when it is optimized for an activity in a community … and the activity in the community is consistent with the priorities of the community.
At the activity level
The activity level is where performance analysis can be done in detail … it is activities that add up to produce change in the community or not. Data about an activity, like date about everything else, has an association with place and time so that the data may be used for meaningful analysis.
TVM does its primary analysis at the community level, where community is a place. A community may also refer to an “affinity group” of many sorts, like that of a school, or a church, or a sporting club. In modern times, a community may also be “virtual” with its members linked together in some way through the Internet and social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn or thousands of others.
Helping to determine what is best
The goals of progress can be defined by the community ... and steps taken to move the community towards its goals.
TVM measures not only profit, but also value adding and impact on society. The corporate accounting ideas of balance sheet and operating statement are applied to the community as a whole, and not just the organizations in the community. identifies causality by using temporal (time) analysis ... it , and how the activities of society result in value adding progress or value destruction. the place. TVM is ubiquitous ... pulling data from remote places where little is usually seen and reported. TVM goes beyond single stories to make multiple stories tell the complete story in a meaningful manner.
Possibilities are enhanced with planning. Planning is analysis that helps to determine what is best to do. Planning is a framework for effective decision making … and effective decision making is achieved when the decisions are based on what is good for the community.
The TVM based planning framework for a community in Haiti is the same as for any community anywhere in the world. It is a methodology that empowers local people so that local resources are mobilized as the core of a sustainable program for the community.
TVM accounting goes beyond corporate money accounting to include in the accounting the idea of not only accounting for money transactions, but also to include the accounting for value.
TVM also uses the community as the entity for accounting, analysis and reporting and not the organization. The organization has a role in the accounting and reporting about community when its activities impact the community.
Metrics about socio-economic progress and performance are needed for society in the same way that money accounting metrics are needed for organizations. Money accounting is used for detail measurement inside the organization so that the organization can be managed and for summary reporting to outsiders. Meaningful socio-economic data of many types are used in a community to have metrics about socio-economic anything and everything that affects progress and performance. With relevant meaningful metrics there may be management. Management includes many elements including planning, analysis and feedback to improve performance.
In order to achieve the maximum of sustainable development progress from the available resources, they should be used to take advantage of the multiplier and accelerator behaviors of dynamic development.
The proposed program builds on the potential of the Haitian population of around 10 million people, as well as the potential of some 2 million international Haitians.
In an enterprise society people are both producers and consumers and everything is organized accordingly. In this rebuilding initiative, the most efficient program is going to be where Haitians are remunerated to do much of the rebuilding themselves. They will then be in a position to pay for most of their basic needs and the foundation for a surplus production sustainable economy will start to emerge. With this approach, the funding required for development becomes a fraction of the static welfare model planning incorporated in the proposed GoH plan.
Planning is a management tool that makes it possible to know a lot about the resources, the constraints and how things are organized. With people focus planning, the link between people as resource and people as beneficiary is closed. With planning data about a community it is possible to have a dialog about how people and organization and resources might work together in the most effective way, This approach to planning makes it possible to have planning and coordination and to maintain a strong bottom up focus.
Seven planning steps
Planning identifies ways to remove constraints … some constraints are easy to remove, but some are not. Some things can be done quickly, but some will take a generation or more to change. Some people related constraints may be removed quickly, but most are going to take a long time. The deficit in education cannot be removed instantly, it is going to take a number of years … but the value of addressing the learning deficit is substantial. Some knowledge can be shared quickly, but some has to wait until there is an underlying level of education for the knowledge to have any meaning.
In very practical terms the plan has to reflect what people want to do and can do … what organizations want to do and can do … and what other resources there are in the community. A data driven dialog about these things make it possible to understand the possibilities and the constraints of the community.
The TVM approach to planning aims to be as simple as possible. In the initial stages the data about the community is compiled as a simple Seven Step program. The process includes the following:
- STEP ONE: Having the basic data about the community
- STEP TWO: Identify key issues and priorities of the community
- STEP THREE: Available resources … priority sectors … opportunities
- STEP FOUR: Main constraints … limiting factors
- STEP FIVE: Prioritize things to do
- STEP SIX: Mobilize resources … get organized
- STEP SEVEN: Implement … assess progress
Having the basic data about the community
The basic data about the community is an essential starting point … while there are easily accessible data about the country these data are averages and aggregates that tell very little about the individual specific places in the country. The elements that are needed are set out below:
- About the community
- About people
- About organizations
- About material and natural resources
- About money resources
- About constraints
- About economic activities
Key issues and priorities of the community
The process of planning is not merely to have a plan … but to get results. Data about the community is going to be voluminous. By identifying the main priorities of the community it becomes possible to focus effort on something that is more manageable. The identification of priority is a community process that reflects community knowledge of the state of the community, the goals of the community, the possibilities of the community and the constraints.
Available resources … priority sectors … opportunities
Available resources are very important. Start with people because it is people that have needs … people who are a potential market and people who are a potential source of labor or human capital. What organizations are available … what can the existing organizations do to help? What is constraining existing local organizations from doing more. What material and natural resources are available? What buildings and infrastructure are available? What equipment is available? What are the big opportunities?
Main constraints … limiting factors
Some of the constraints in the community are going to be specific to the community … things that can be improved by action at the community level. There will be others that are externalities to the community … and while they should be documented, they should not be used as an excuse for not doing other things that are within the control of the community.
And what are the small constraints that are stopping the people of the community from making progress to achieve the potential of the community?
Prioritize things to do
If you try to do too much, you do not do anything! What needs to be done has to be identified and sorted so that something can get done.
Disagreement about priorities is likely to be the norm, rather than the exception. The plan is a guide to getting results … making progress and having effective performance. Have many small initiatives with rapid results rather than a single big thing where too many people are going to get left out!
- Identify just one thing to do … and do what is needed (see 6 and 7) to get it done!
- Identify something else to do … and then do what is needed to get this thing done!
Mobilize resources … get organized
Nothing is going to get done unless the necessary resources are mobilized … people … money resources … material resources … knowhow. In addition everything has to be organized so that what needs to be done gets done. This is both people and organizational structure. In some cases it will be impossible to mobilize the resources needed simply because there is not a viable organization to work with.
Implement … assess progress
Implementing … doing the work … providing feedback about work done and resources consumed. This enables:
- Oversight of the portfolio of initiatives using metrics of progress and performance;
- Rethinking the plan for the next iteration.