Officers vs. Chairs.

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Almost unnoticed, power is being shifted from volunteers to the IO.

In an earlier post I suggested approving Mtn06 and Mtn08 and simply criticized the fact that we keep resorting our committees, but after some more thought I think these motions deserve a little more attention:

CISV is currently in a process of restructuring almost all international committees that don't deal directly with programmes. Within this process, a new Educational Department was founded last year, which consists of 4 committees that go by the acronyms EVR, LTC, EDC and IPT. Every committee has a (volunteer) chair (or is in fact currently looking for a chair), and the whole department is managed by an IO employee - currently Kiran as the educational officer.

Similarly, if those motions are passed, there will be a new Profile Raising Department, consisting of three committees (ICC, ORC and PRC) and a Organisational Development Department with two committees (SGC and OTC). Denise from IO will be in charge of the former, Bebbe for the latter.

Now, what I'm curious about, and I don't think this has been either formally discussed let alone fixed on paper, how the chairs of these committees will co-operate with the IO officers, and will actually be in charge? IO employees will have a huge amount of (paid) time available to spend on the projects, and won't be limited by a six-year term. Most of them don't have an extensive CISV background in participating, leading nor training and got to know the organisation through their professional perspective. Yet, I'm guessing that sooner or later, they will have far more authority in determining the way these departments and hence CISV as a whole will be developing.

If we complete the restructuring process by approving the two motions this year, we are embarking onto a significant shift of power from the volunteer part to the professional part of our organization, and I'm wondering if this is all good.

Don't get me wrong - I don't want to move back to the old situation, when IO was basically staffed by administrators. I'm glad we have people there now that have a vision and are competent and motivated to  shape the future of CISV. But having professionals not only act as a service structure to our volunteer base but actually deciding the future has some caveats: I'm worried that we lose a certain amount of democratic value, because these people are neither elected nor approved by the board. We are already having trouble filling volunteer chair positions - how much more difficult will it be if they act as "workhorses" for the department chiefs. Finally, with all its disadvantages, volunteerism has always been a core value of CISV, and from a financial point of view, has enabled us to offer high-quality international programmes for a reasonable price.

If indeed, we want to walk down that road, is should happen after a bit more discussion and in full awareness of what we are deciding here.

This is my last post discussing motions here at FTB, because being here at AIM I'll rather spend my time taking part in the most powerful way of communication, and that is face to face. I'd love to include those people who can't be here, but I'm afraid that can't be the purpose of this blog.

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I agree with your point of view in-part, but want to mention that very few people on the board ever participate in the on-the-ground programmes and activities that make up CISV. For the people in the IO, I'd suggest an intense, paid, almost half-staff role at a Village, Summer Camp or Seminar Camp. That way, they are able to "get" what it is that we are trying to do, which is something most people on the administrative/board/AIM attending side of things tend to forget about.

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This page contains a single entry by Nick published on August 3, 2010 2:03 AM.

CISV Hydra*. was the previous entry in this blog.

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