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Meaningful Metrics for a Smart Society
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Date: 2019-05-24 Page is: DBtxt001.php bk010050000

Burgess Manuscripts
New Wave for Development
Some Critical Reforms to Catalyze Socio-Economic Progress

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Community is the best focus for development ... this is where people live and where quality of life matters. Community centric metrics show how effectively resources are being used, not only those from external sources, but also local resources.

Why on earth this book?
Focus on Community

Community is probably the best organizational structure to facilitate development. It is more effective than a single person, and has a scale that is perhaps optimum ofr progress. Resources that are available can be used in the best possible way. How can resources be used for best results? What incremental resources are needed and where are they going to come from. How to ensure that the community gets to use resources for its priority works. How are community resources going to be used to achieve maximum economic value adding and progress towards the goal of success in development. Is community the key to success? Local people often know what they need, but don't have all the resources to do what needs to be done.

Community centric development

This chapter puts community at the center of development. The community is close to people who need to be the ultimate beneficiaries, and the definers of priorities, as well as the funders of development, the implementers, the managers, and the decision makers. A community makes it possible for people to be in every facet of the development process.

It expands on the ideas that when people have opportunity they can make better use of their abilities for good benefit. But it also recognizes that people are only as good as the team they are part of. So it takes up the question of how people can be organized to get things done. And how people need to be motivated for success. It addresses how to organize for success at every level, while keeping the priorities of people, and the enthusiasm of people so often lost in the humdrum of a typical large organization. It takes up the importance of having people well informed so that they are able to participate in priority setting and decision making and making accountability a factor in development performance.

Community is for ever

People live somewhere. That somewhere is the community. The place where one lives, where one has been born, where the ancestors are buried has a unique character in human history. While it is not anymore in the forefront of thinking in the “north” it is still very important in the “south”.

One of the questions asked in accounting exams is to identify the reasons for adopting the corporate form of organization. One of the reasons is that the corporation has perpetual existence. But it is not as permanent as a geographic community.

Maps that are hundreds of years old, in fact thousands of years old make reference to the same communities that exist today. And historians ask what it is that has changed over the years. My home town in the UK is a good example. When I was growing up it had a population of around 4,000 ... 50 years before it had had a population of around 3,800 ... and 900 years before the community was written up in the Domesday Book compiled by William the Conqueror shortly after 1066. Places really do have a continuity that can be used to track progress.

And if we apply the same thinking to places in Iraq we go back to Biblical times. Each and every community has a past, and this can be used to support a positive future.


People centric development holds the hope that development will result in people being both the source of development energy and ideas and as well the beneficiaries.

Development is about people. It always has been. But along the way the idea of process, and a whole set of thematic issues has overtaken the people focus of development.

For development to succeed it has to get back to people. Everyone who has worked at the “grassroots” level of development understands the importance of this. They know that failed development ends up with people who are poor and hungry and lack the basics for a decent quality of life and with little or no opportunity.

Modern development needs to move from a paradigm where the NORTH funds the SOUTH and the SOUTH does what it is told, to an era where the people of the SOUTH set the priorities in everything that affects them. The organizational model for development where decision makers are “on top” and the beneficiaries are on the bottom has to change.

The change has to happen not only at the level of the UN and the World Bank and the donor organizations, but also at the level of the developing country or beneficiary governments and other intermediary organizations. Changing the culture of academic, corporate, government and political leadership is not going to be an easy thing, but it is vital.

Paying Attention to the Past
At one time I worked with Winston Prattley, one of the elder statesmen of UNDP. He recounted that he had been a junior officer in Iraq in the 1950s working on an FAO/UNDP irrigation project. During this work they discovered some archaeological remains, and suspended the project so that the archaeologists could study what had been found. It turned out to be the remains of an old irrigation project ... that apparently had fallen into disuse because of salinity some several thousand years before. What goes around ... comes around. Salinity remains a problem with irrigation in the present day.

Community Centric Planning

Planning with a community focus

A community focus results in a very different dynamic for development than what has prevailed in the past. When planning is community centric, the priorities are much more likely to be of socio-economic value to the community. Plans that originate in the community have the possibility of “ownership” by the community, and there is a strong correlation between what is priority and what is done. Plans with community focus can be simple and understandable, and at the same time can be totally suitable for the community. Small is efficient and allows for the optimization of plans within a community without the compromise inherent in super-scale projects intended to satisfy everyone, and ending up satisfying no-one.

Gosplan does not work

Central planning ... Gosplan, as it was known in the Soviet Union ... is a system that makes decisions and allocates resources based on what the government thinks. A community focus for planning puts the community first, and it is the community that drives the allocation of resources and the priorities for socioeconomic development. In Iraq since the fall of Baghdad, most relief and development resources have been sourced and controlled within government ... and mainly the within the US government and its military. All the planning is essentially at a high level with little input from the communities where people live.

Community goal - quality of life

Quality of life is something that is determined as much as anything by what goes on in our own community. What goes on at any distance from my community may be interesting, and may have an indirect impact, but is nowhere near as important as what goes on in my community.

And within the community, my family is the most important. To the extent that people are interested in far away places, it is often because a family member is there.

What is quality of life is very subjective ... it is what an individual and the family wants.

Components of community planning

The components of community centric planning are the same as for any other planning. That is: (1) Get facts; (2) Analyze and optimize; (3) Organize; (4) Implement; (5) Measure; (6) Feedback; and, (7) Analyze and adjust.

People in the community may not be well educated or academic. Most will not speak an international language. Some who know the most may not be literate, but that does not mean they do not know their community. In practical terms, they will know a lot more about the facts of their community than outsiders. They may have plans to make things better but not the resources, and they may have a rather limited appreciation of what is truly possible.

By making community the focal point of development, organizations in the community can benefit from assistance in ways that translate into tangible help for people and value adding for the community.

Types of resources

The critical resources for development are people, physical resources such as materials and equipment and infrastructure, financial resources and knowhow. The performance of development depends on how these resources are organized and used. The information and management dimension of development facilitates effective organization. This section deals with mobilizing enough of these resources.


People are the first critical resource. There are a lot of people in developing countries, and most are poor and many are hungry. Sadly, many are also uneducated and untrained and therefore ill-equipped to handle modern jobs. This is the community that should benefit from development excellence, but it will not show so much in this generation but in the next.

For someone of my age it is possible to think in generational terms because there have been very profound changes in the human condition over the past fifty years. While the truly poor have not progressed, the number of people in developing countries with education, and some of it very good eduction, is very large now compared to (say) two generations ago. The experience of the older people in this group is also substantial. The critical key element that is missing is opportunity so that this group can be the agents for development progress. All initiatives in development in order to have the essential sustainable economic value adding characteristic must involve local people as an integral part of the initiative.

In the analytical framework that become feasible with a good development information system, the economic value adding analysis incorporates a people dimension so that human factors and quality of life are taken into consideration Organizational infrastructure

People can have more power when they are organized in some way. There are a variety of organizational forms, all of which have some history that defines them and ways of operating that gives them strength.

Physical infrastructure

In most of the SOUTH the physical infrastructure is poor and dilapidated. It should be possible for the abundance of labor and natural resources to be used in an effective way to facilitate the upgrading of the infrastructure.

Natural resources

In most of the SOUTH the physical infrastructure is poor and dilapidated. It should be possible for the abundance of labor and natural resources to be used in an effective way to facilitate the upgrading of the infrastructure.

Materials and production equipment

Some physical resources are available in developing countries and some are not. There are many types of natural resources in developing countries while there is a shortage of business materials and equipment and the physical infrastructure is poor and dilapidated. It should be possible for the abundance of natural resources to be used in an effective way to facilitate the upgrading of business materials and equipment and the upgrading of the infrastructure.

There are big questions about the manner in which natural resources are used in support of development. The history of natural resource exploitation is that local communities have suffered while outsiders have benefited. The history of exploitative behavior was supposed to end with the end of empire, but the last fifty years suggests that there are other factors at play that go beyond the issues of European colonialism.

There are enough valuable resources in developing countries, and enough business material and equipment available around th world for this not to be a constraint on development.

In the analytical framework for economic value adding, most large scale export oriented foreign financed resource exploitation projects have a low performance rating in terms of economic value adding for the host community and host country. This should not be and need not be.

On the other hand these local resources should be developed so that they serve to create and support sustainable development and economic progress.

Financial resources

Africa and the SOUTH needs investors that are looking for a high return on a small investment, and want their investment to be earning well for a long time. Africa and the SOUTH needs to get away from the international investors that are looking for a big return on a big investment and an early and easy exit strategy.

And there are enough financial resources in the modern world to finance anything that is low risk and economic value adding. The challenge is to create financing vehicles and the financial intermediaries that will make it possible for the capital markets to operate for the benefit of their investors and development at the same time.
Information is Valuable
It was said of the Rothschild Bank in the Victorian era that they had the best information in the financial community, and that this was the secret of their success.
It is still true in modern times that information is key to financial performance. It can be manipulated information that created wealth and scandal in recent years in the financial community, or it can be the reliable sound basic financial information being proposed in this work to support development investment

Financial resources are available in both the institutional capital market and among private investors and philanthropic organizations. The challenge is to organize so that these sources see a good return and a low risk from investing in development and the economic value adding of developing communities.


And there is also enough technical know how for development success to be achieved anywhere modern people with resources choose to work. Good management of limited development resources will not encourage do anything anywhere development, but will aim to focus the use of development resources where there can be the most economic value adding, and the most benefit to the host community and the local people.

Africa and developing countries need technical support as well as investment. In most cases it is preferable to have investment and technical support to be from different sources

Importance of Trust

Nothing works very well unless there is of trust. Trust is about knowing people and respecting people. It is an ethical or moral concept more than it is a legal construct. Trust facilitates progress in a very important way.

Most poor, small or remote communities do not have an incorporated structure and any global visibility that is “trustable” by the “north” ... and in due time this has to be addressed. But a lot can be done when trust is established with a community, initially on a personal level, and then on a bigger level.

Though it may not be possible to get major external funding assistance into a community without a formal legal structure of “trust”, a lot can be done with a combination of information, organization and personal relationships.

Framework for Community Metrics

Corporate financial reports

The corporate model for financial reporting is well understood. It is (1) the balance sheet; (2) the profit and loss account; (3) the cash flow statement; and (4) any explanatory notes and supporting schedules.

TVM community reports

The TVM community reports comprise a report on the State of the Community and a report on the Productivity of the Community. These reports are analogous to the Balance Sheet and the Profit and Loss Account in the corporate setting.

State of Community

As in a financial balance sheet, the CA State of the Community is based on the assets of the community, that is, their value, and the liabilities of the community ... the constraints and what it is that stops the community from being better than it is ... the negative value that this represents.

Assets ... resources

Resources are not just money and financial resources. They also include human and natural resources which are often abundant and valuable when used well.
  • People. What is the human potential? What is needed so that people can do the maximum that they are capable of?
  • Natural resources. What natural resources are there? How can local resources be used as an economic driver for the area? What is the natural economic potential of the area? What can agriculture do? Are their other local resources that have economic potential?
  • Organization. What are the capabilities of existing organizations? What is needed so that they can do the maximum that they can do? What professional organizations are there and what can they do?
  • Infrastructure. What is there? What is the best way to improve the infrastructure so that it can support the highest level of activity? What is the status of the roads, the communications, the clinics and hospitals, the transport systems, etc, etc?
  • Production capability. What production capacity is there? Does business have what is needed?
  • Working capital. Does business have access to the working capital and liquidity it needs. What needs to be done to satisfy working capital needs?
  • Money. What money and financial services are available? How can salaries and suppliers be paid? What is the business model to generate positive cash flow? What are revenues? Is it market driven? Is it government budget? Is it grant based? Is it fee based? Is it mixed?
  • Knowledge. What knowledge is there? Is everything known that needs to be known. How to stay up to date. How to train new people. How to update knowledge and be in the global knowledge community.

Liabilities ... constraints

What might be possible?

It is not easy to identify what might be possible ... but this is the value that must be ascertained about any community.

For any enterprise to be profitable in any specific situation the basic cost structure must be favorable relative to the market situation ... price and demand. This will reflect the enabling environment in its most broad interpretation.

A lot depends on the ability of an entrepreneur to take on a challenge and go into business in competition with other locals and with the world.

There might be possibilities in the agro-production area using processing animal products ... processed meats and skins.

There might be possibilities in the petro-chemical area using the feedstocks that are available from the oil and gas sector. This could be very big business and profitable if done in cooperation with organizations that have access or control international markets.

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