McKinsey may not do the trick.

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CISV structures won't easily be analyzed by consultant magic.

During AIM 2010 Laura/GBR gave a fantastic presentation on the AIM structure. A topic, I personally had worked on 4 years earlier, but in fact failed to take it all apart the way Laura finally did: Like a surgeon she and her team including the fabulous Thiago/BRA (who apparently does this stuff professionally)  analyzed all the elements of the meeting and brought up different suggestions on how to restructure AIMs into a more efficient meeting.

In the course of the AIM the board also approved a gigantic budget for an "organizational study" that will among other things, integrate this AIM-study. The basic idea is, to hire an experienced consultancy to look into our structures and procedures, and see if we can achieve more efficiency by doing things better differently. 

As much as I was impressed by the presentation and the thorough AIM analysis, the more I think about it, the more I'm worried that this methodology won't work for CISV: In a for-profit organisation, saving money automatically translates into higher proifts. A non-profit organisation it's more complicated: It's easy to use analytical tools to decipher cost for a meeting like AIMs - but how to you measure the outcome, which is much more than money. How do you measure innovation? How do you count motivation? How do you calculate for communication - all three elements are a key to an AIM's success. 

I guess the organizational study will not only look at AIM, but also at IO, committees, NA-structures, etc. But here the problem will remain the same: CISVs core output is education and personal development. The goal of the study will have to be to maximize educational output for the least amount of money. The basic formula will have to be: To send the biggest amount of individuals to the highest quality of programmes for as little cost as possible. Once again, the cost part is easy, but what about the rest?

Furthermore, we haven't even looked at the volunteers yet. Volunteers don't even cost much money, except for travel and sometimes accommodation. They're output is highly dependent on motivation and inspiration.

I once suggested a professional analysis of our structure on CISV Devils (with a slightly different tweak) and I still very much welcome an outside view - but I'm a little pessimistic on the outcomes. Not only I'm afraid that the suggestions won't be any good - even if they are, can we convince our members, who often are quite reluctant to change? Especially since a usual recommendation is to focus on core competence. Imagine if the report would suggest to get rid of Mosaic, IPP, Interchange since what we're best at is kids, camps and international? (Maybe a bit far-fetched, I agree, but do think about it!)

CISV is a terribly complicated beast - good luck to whoever ging to have a run on it!

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This denotes some major skepticism against audit and consultancy firms such as McKinsey and friends, and supposes their inability of ranking performance in anything than money.

Let's hope we can find one with NGO-auditing experience, and which could bring in adequate tools and methods.
Googling "Nggo Benchmarking" in Google shows some interesting results (such as SGS) ; we might be non-profits but we sure have money to spend. We're just another market for them.

Plus, we've already done half the job : with our Strategic Plannings, we've formalized our 3-year goals. That should give us a good starting point. Now let's find the achievement measuring unit !

It also depends a lot on how CISV briefs the management consultants and on how the CISV team working with them helps the study.

In the rebranding process we (as I see it) failed on defining what we wanted from this "outside view", which resulted into the whole tagline issue at AIM this year and the brand guidelines being reviewed.

We need to be very clear on what we want to achieve and put the whole organization into a common understanding (however difficult that may be) of the goals of the review and the way the outcomes will help CISV develop or be more efficient in achieving its goals. If we can have this understanding the outcome might be more accepted by CISVers than it many times is when there's no consensus on what is actually the best thing for the organization.

I hope that some changes are made and that CISVers are able to think outside this old bubble of ours.

If I recall correctly the consultants will look at organization and not contents. This means that cutting programmes are (should not) be on the agenda, but rather how we deal with IO / Professionals vs. Committees / Volunteers. Included should be AIMs, Mid-way meetings and the like.

One big point at AIM was that CISV should really take onboard whatever the outcome of the study is.... let's see how far they go, and what we are willing to accept.

Generally CISV does not like conflict (motto: the easiest conflict to resolve is the one that is not there), so I suspect that all controversial proposals will be ignored...

As for McK; yes - I think hard-core business consultants would tell us to simplify and worry about our core competency - which is youth programmes typically including a summer camp of a kind. What NGO/Volunteer Strategic Consultants say for a living... I have no clue.

Lars, of course you're right: They won't take apart our educational concepts. But I do think they'll come up with some unpleasant suggestions, we should be prepared of.

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This page contains a single entry by Nick published on November 13, 2010 7:59 PM.

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