We need a new business model
Blog Post by David Week
I think this is your most critical insight: “I’ll add one more–we believed ourselves to be “neutral” facilitators helping an organization move from point a to point b. We saw ourselves as “outside” the system.”
Of course, you are not outside the system, you are within it, and “the system” is a powerful set of social influences that moulds behaviour.
Two of the factors in the system which militate against the ideal of development which you set out, (and which I agree with) are:
* the fact that we are trained to serve a COMMUNITY, but are paid by a FUNDER. This is a CONFLICT and generally means that funder priorities win out. This conflict is further made difficult because community needs are dealt with explicitly, but funder priorities are often communicated and enforced tacitly.
* the increasingly tighter controls now tying funding to PRE-DETERMINED OUTCOMES. This militates AGAINST community exploration of their OWN vision, concerns and solutions. The demands for evidence-supported effectiveness and efficiency creates fewer and fewer gaps for communities to create or enact their own way.
Our small firm is currently rewriting its strategy to move more consciously towards the ideal of practice. Following this, we are going to be reworking our business model to overcome these two factors. We expect this to be risky and difficult (though rewarding.) However, we are convinced by many decades of practice that the idea practice requires a fundamentally different business model.
So I don’t think it is the practitioner who is the locus of the problem, but the fact that after graduation they are plugged into a system which requires from its workers a different kind of behavior.
DAVID WEEK HAS MORE THAN THIRTY YEARS EXPERIENCE IN THE SCOPING, PLANNING, DESIGN, MANAGEMENT, MONITORING AND EVALUATION OF CULTURALLY APPROPRIATE INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS IN THE ASIA-PACIFIC REGION. DAVID HAS DIRECTED, MANAGED AND EVALUATED THE DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF OVERSEAS AID PROJECTS FOR AUSAID AND THE WORLD BANK, THE PLANNING AND DESIGN OF FACILITIES FOR ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAITS ISLANDER COMMUNITIES, THE DESIGN OF CORPORATE WORKPLACES BASED ON ORGANISATIONAL CULTURE, AND ASSISTED RESOURCE COMPANIES TO FULFILL THEIR COMMUNITY OBLIGATIONS
DAVID IS CURRENTLY THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF ASSAI, A PROFESSIONAL SERVICES FIRM THAT PROVIDES DESIGN, PROJECT MANAGEMENT, CAPACITY BUILDING AND HUMAN RESOURCE SOLUTIONS ACROSS TWO CORE AREAS: 1)SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE FOR DEVELOPMENT, IN BOTH INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIA; 2) EVALUATION FOR SOCIAL CHANGE
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