With the recent scandal on school admission bribery in the US, eight universities are being investigated by the US Education Department.
When wealth, abuse of power, lack of accountability corrupt institutions such as colleges and universities, it showed two things:
That people in power and authority that are supposed to be bastions of integrity, ethics, and high moral leadership can give in to the temptations of the job. This begs the questions about the effectiveness (ineffectiveness) of the people that should be guarding the process, ensuring clear lines of reporting and accountability, supervision, and guidance. Where are they and what were they doing when these things have been going on for years?!
When institutions are weak, corruption can take its place without detection. It is allowed to be bought by people who doesn't care about rules and equity for all. The moment greed and personal self-indulgence and selfishness rule in any place, there is no more meritocracy and respect for individual achievement through hard work and ethical performance, it is all about who can buy its own way to success and stay unscathed when the hands of justice will swing again.
This is an unfair world. A deserving student who had no pedigree or family wealth to back him/her out cannot dream of an Ivy League education or more less get it in these times. But when wealth/power overrule merit, then this country (or any country) for that matter is on its way to ruins.
You are lucky enough to have a job right now!
What does it mean if it comes from a supervisor, boss, manager, or the Head of your department?
Two things come to mind:
1. Better shut up, get to work. Take the job or leave it.
2. Don’t think about making suggestions to improve your work or your work environment. It is what it is.
This is not a very empowering statement. But I heard it from a manager a few years ago. At first, she better be kidding, but yes, it was an opening statement in a meeting with employees in our division. The looming context was a departmental budget cut, possible lay-offs, and a restructuring. But despite the depressing reality at that time, the manager positioned herself defensively by not addressing any questions but by simply stating what is to come in a few months. The memo will be sent to those that will be affected by these changes.
People in higher positions saying these are themselves powerless in a bureaucratic organization where the safest bet is to push it down to more powerless people in the organization. It starts from the from the top. That being said, if there is no genuine care, concern, and commitment to workers' welfare and well-being, it shows not only in policies but also in language and attitudes of the management.
I have come to understand one thing from that meeting. There is no real progress in a career/ in a work environment where you are made to shut up and just do the job.
I was lucky to leave in five months!
I am popping a lot of bubbles lately.
There is a tendency by the rank-and-file to project a certain aura of greatness about their companies to the point that when the rubber hits the road, tries to defend their stupid policies and procedures and leave the customer wanting to obliterate them out of the face of the earth!
A classic example of a website form that this organization is promoting to spur up public involvement and engagement with their programs. I put out my hand and expressed interest and started engagement. Well, they have a convoluted and archaic policy of internal referrals and Board approvals, aka 'insider trading.' I called the BS and they can't fail not to admit that if they want to remain exclusive at their own peril, they do not have to bother public citizens like us with these fake forms.
Another classic example of that is the fact that organizations whose mandate is to create public engagement end up actually creating exclusionary and elitist programs that bar interested people from actually being able to participate. Who would have thought that entrepreneurial programs espousing the values of community, transparency, collaboration are those that pretty unfriendly to newcomers and new entrants. This perpetuates the old-boys network mentality and creates incestuous relationships amongst actors in the space. Incestuous relationships are very harmful to organizations and individuals. There is no fresh air coming in.
Whether it is from the public and private sector, citizen leaders like us should refuse to accept the BS, call it for what it is, and get the attention of the decision-maker of the organization. Whether it is an airline, a grocery store, a non-profit, a church, or whatever, bad policies, procedures, protocols, or whatever systems have to be resisted with gusto. Organizations that fail to make corrections are set to suffer from many troubles or count their not-so-long shelf lives.
Boards and staff have to set the records straight. They need to define their roles and responsibilities. The Board needs to set the general direction for the organization and look at the long-term viability of staff, programs, and assets. While the staff is hired to look after the particular operations of the organization.
When hands-on Board becomes to muddled up in too much detail, the staff feels disempowered and frustrated that every decision including what nails to use or plants to buy or how many colors of the logo needs to have is a pain in itself. Boards are not meant to make those calls!
It is important to leave it up to the staff to figure it out. They are to be trusted to make those important operational decisions because they are close to the problem, they know what works because they have the experience working in this role, and that they need to exercise their creativity and ingenuity. Respecting each other's roles is highly critical to the success of this relationship.
When Board and staff work constructively, then it can be heaven on earth. It is important that staff can consult the Board when....(state those reasons) and stick to those as much as possible. Constructively in the sense that while roles and responsibilities are delineated well, the relationship is very supporting of one another. If both Board and staff collectively use their energies and their strengths together, they can solve problems, anticipate future challenges, and deal with setbacks with resilience.
It is a tango- takes two steps forward and one step backward. As a dance, partners have to be in one heart, soul, and mind so that it doesn't become a labor but of an art in itself. So it does with Board and staff relationship.
If there is high commitment, it beats compliance any day.
If there is no commitment, then you have rules and more rules to compensate for the lack of real and genuine engagement.
Governments and regulatory agencies slap rules and more rules when it is more wise, productive, effective, and affordable to elicit more engagement, thereby in the long-term, you get commitment and fierce dedication.
Business leaders, owners, and managers must clearly understand this differentiation. If there is no real accountability and commitment to staff and employees, you will get compliant but mediocre and low-performing average crew. Businesses cannot thrive in the atmosphere of compliant, obedient, but brainless individuals whose task is to keep their jobs, stay away from trouble, and always say yes to the boss.
Committed employees take their time to understand their roles, participate in efforts to improve their work and their performance, and show their best towards the customers or clients of the organization. They are enabled, empowered, and do not ask permission to make a decision that will redound to the greatness of their organization. They are permitted to cherish the customer and showcase their talent going sometimes beyond their duties to accommodate what seems to be the right thing to do versus what is comfortable at that time.
There is a risk taking that is not merely tolerated but actually acknowledged and encouraged because the rewards for action make the difference.
When nobody is looking or paying attention to their work, are your employees able to showcase compliant behaviors or committed behaviors? Find this out for your self.
Your Theory of Change is your organization's statement as to how your mission will achieve your vision.
What constitutes an effective Theory of Change?
-Clear causal chains leading to change
-Your inputs, outputs, and outcomes reflect the change
-Explains the underlying assumptions of actions, activities, programs, and portfolios
-Gives explanations to other factors leading to or achieving change
-Gives analysis and context of how change can happen and in what conditions
-Accounts for their contribution to the overall change that they want to see
The theory of change is not:
-About defending the theory or framework itself
-Not about being truistic or being tautological
-Being naïve that your theory of change is unique and never been done somewhere, somehow
-Not learning from lessons of other practitioners, not looking over your shoulder to see what others' have done with the challenges and issues
- Too simplistic, myopic, and mechanistic
- The premise that we 'don't know the solution yet, so our theory of change is about proving the theory." Very wrong.
What is your theory of change? Your theory of change says a lot about the quality of the analysis you put in your work and how it makes a difference every day?