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The purpose of this page is to provide a better understanding of the planning and measurement concepts developed under the LAC organizational performance initiative, how they have evolved over time and how they relate to other current performance management initiatives internal and external to CARE.
Question #1: What is the purpose of the Organizational Performance initiative? And why do we need it?
The purpose of the LAC regional Organizational Performance initiative, as defined in its FY04 AOP, is to develop and implement comprehensive yet simple mechanisms that will allow the senior management teams in the region to assess, anticipate, analyze, generate alternatives and make better decisions with regard to organizational strategy, operations, culture and structure.
In private business, there is one clear bottom line: profitability in financial and economic terms. In terms of managing performance, many businesses are still singularly focused on profitability alone, while others have added measures with regard to customer satisfaction, productivity and the effectiveness and efficiency of internal processes, learning and employee commitment and understanding to refine their models, without ever losing sight, however, of profitability as the key measure.
When it comes to not-for-profits however, how is good performance defined? What is the bottom line, when there is no bottom line? For organizations like CARE, good performance is based on actually advancing and achieving our vision, creating value for the people we intend to serve, with all that that implies. Without it we have no relevance as an organization. Yet, at the same time, we need to ensure our financial viability.
The Organizational Performance initiative was established, and has evolved over time, in recognition of the fact that CARE has inadequate tools and methods for establishing clear targets and measuring performance at the organizational level to assess its effectiveness and progress towards its long term strategic goals and vision. Our current organizational strategy, and its appropriateness in terms of achieving long term goals, is not based on an in-depth analysis of the underlying causes of poverty, nor on an in-depth analysis of the gaps between the present situation in each country and the region and either the stated goals and targets of the international community or the programming principles we have adopted. The Organizational Performance initiative is an attempt to bring rigor to the process of analysis and setting targets associated with our strategy and long term goals, and to establish a common framework for measurement and accountability.
Question #2: What constitutes good organizational performance? How do we know it when we see it?
Following are the most important characteristics associated with good performance:
• The outcome (impact) of our work is in line with our vision and the long term strategic goals of the international community we subscribe to. This deals both with specific improvements with regard to poverty reduction (e.g. progress toward meeting those MDG targets we selected, but also with regard to improving social justice, dignity and security in less tangible but equally important ways (more equitable power sharing, duty bearers acting upon their responsibilities, reduced discrimination, underlying causes of poverty and social injustice addressed in a sustainable way). The above is captured in the Organizational Performance model under “impact indicators.”
• What we say (or often, write) and what we do (our work, or in management terms, our strategy, operations, structure and culture) is aligned with the vision our values and our (programming) principles. This deals with ensuring that what we do, whether it happens in the analysis, design, or implementation phase of an initiative, our approaches are consistent with the values and principles embedded in our vision, whether this concerns programming, resource mobilization, organizational governance, people management or program administration and support. The elements of our work that deal with strategy (formulation, analysis, design, approach and resource mobilization) are covered in the Organizational Performance model under the “strategy” indicators, while the elements dealings with operations, structure and culture are covered under “organizational support” indicators.
In order to determine whether we, as an organization, are performing well, evidence of the above is needed – as measured against common, well defined set of targets and indicators used throughout the region. In order not to leave this to chance, it is best that good performance is planned through a process of analysis, target setting, planning and resource allocation.
Question #3: How does the Organizational Performance initiative relate to the LAC Management Framework, and what progress has been made thus far (through April 2004)?
When the LAC Management Framework (MF) was developed it was realized that we would need a mechanism to measure how its implementation was progressing. While some measures of success were spelled out in the LAC MF, the RMU realized that additional definition was needed, and discussion paper #11 was developed, which suggested that organizational performance needed be tracked in terms of: a) The extent of socialization and internalization, b) Clarity on the current state of affairs, and c) A coherent plan of action and progress with the plan, for two major categories, “organizational health,” and the “change process,”
In Tegucigalpa, in February 2003, the region’s senior managers decided that (planning and) monitoring progress toward achieving against the strategic goal, i.e. reducing poverty by 50% in the region by 2015, as defined in the Millennium Development Goals, was a third critical area to be included. It was also agreed that the organizational performance model should help managers “anticipate, analyze, generate alternatives and make better decisions in a timely manner.” By implication this reinforced the idea that the organizational performance model should not just be a monitoring instrument but be useful for performance planning as well.
During FY04, the RMU and CARE Ecuador spearheaded the initiative, with input from and interaction with representatives from most country teams in the region (notably CARE Bolivia, El Salvador and Nicaragua), staff from CARE Atlanta and members of the AWV team. Based on this input and feedback a two part approach was developed, consisting of:
1) a process to adopt and adapt specific targets and indicators of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG, the current “industry standard in terms of poverty reduction) and align a country team’s program strategy accordingly;
2) a performance management process including a series of 40 indicators that represent a definition of good performance associated with program impact, program strategy and organizational support (governance, people, financial and program administration). The vast majority of the program impact and strategy indicators are directly aligning with the five breakthrough areas in the LAC management framework, as well as the CI Programming Principles (which in turn represent the characteristics of rights based programming).
Following a validation of these indicators and the methodologies to be used, the key elements for a manual are currently being developed, including detailed definitions of the indicators, data needs and analysis requirements, tools and methods.
Question #4: What has been the influence of other major organizational initiatives such as the Aligning our Work with the Vision (AWV)on the Organizational Performance initiative?
Several members involved in the organizational performance initiative also worked on several of the AWV teams, and the interaction was useful for both initiatives. In addition, the draft AWV report with its extensive list of indicators was considered in its entirety when developing the indicators for the regional organizational performance initiative and about 15 indicators from the AWV were adapted and included among the 37 OP indicators, and 32 of the 37 indicators have a direct relationship with the AWV milestones. The summary table of indicators provides the relationship between the OP indicators and the AWV milestones.
It will be important to review the extent to which planning to meet the AWV targets in the region (and organizationally) can be met by pursuing the organizational performance approach.
Question #5: What are the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and what does CARE have to do with them?
In 2000, CARE International formulated and adopted a new vision statement, which is not only explicit with regard to overcoming poverty and promoting social justice, dignity and security for all, but also stressed the importance of CARE operating as part of a global movement. It was fitting, therefore, that when CARE USA shortly thereafter developed a new strategic plan, it subscribed to the international community’s goal of reducing poverty by 50% by 2015.
Poverty is a broad concept however, defined in different ways. Its dimensions are not just economic, and its symptoms demonstrate itself in a multitude of ways. In an effort led by the United Nations, the international community’s broad goal of reducing poverty by 50% was articulated in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which comprise eight goals and 18 different targets to be achieved by the year 2015, as measured by 48 indicators. The MDGs were formally approved and adopted by 189 heads of state and heads of government, and since then, they have in effect become the new “industry standard” for organizations fighting global poverty.
The adoption of CARE’s vision and CARE USA’s 2002-2006 strategic plan represented a watershed in terms of the organization’s outlook and perspective of our place in the world, in that they recognized that CARE is part of a worldwide movement, and will contribute to overarching goals set by the international community as opposed to setting our own specific goals in a vacuum. The question that has been raised by many, however, is what CARE’s contribution to the various MDGs will be, how we will measure progress, and how we will ultimately be accountable. Discussions have also taken place and questions have been raised as to the appropriateness of the MDGs for CARE’s work, whether they can be in concordance with addressing the underlying causes of poverty, and whether they are consistent with our CI Programming Principles, which embody the rights based approach.
Our premise is that the MDGs are appropriate for CARE, that we should embrace them, and that they are complementary with the CI Programming Principles, using the latter to clarify and refine how we seek to promote MDGs. While MDGs set goals for our work, our Programming Principles guide our strategies to achieve these goals. The MDG framework also represents an important starting point for analyzing the underlying causes of poverty and social injustice, for assessing issues related to exclusion and conflict that deny so many the right to basic services, food, education, earning a decent income and living in dignity and security. Some of CARE’s best contributions to MDGs are likely not to be expanding direct service delivery or enhancing income generation, but to help promote equity and inclusion with regard to the achieving those MDG targets that are most critical in the specific social justice context of a given country. Our focus should be on assessing the situation and working at the national level, considering what inequities exist across the country’s regions, ethnic groups, by gender, so as to focus CARE’s efforts, and the efforts of our allies, on improving the situation of the marginalized, which in turn is likely to improve the “national averages” for certain specific MDG indicators.
Please refer to document 20ENG Guidelines for program strategy alignment with the MDG and CI PP for further details.
Question #6: Why are we inventing a new performance management model, why don’t we just use the Balance Scorecard model?
The Balance Scorecard method assumes that organization has a clear and well articulated strategy, and that good performance is well defined. Without meeting these preconditions, no tool or methodology will serve its purpose. CARE El Salvador has made great strides in the implementation of the Balance Scorecard methodology, and is currently in its first year of (experimental) implementation after defining and clarifying its strategy the two years before.
However, if we want to plan and measure performance for all countries in the region, and for the region as a whole (and as a worldwide organization for that manner) in a consistent manner, we have some way to go in articulating and agreeing what good performance means. This is due in part that we have many levels of strategy within the organization, at the CI, CARE USA, the LAC, the country, the sector and even the project level.
The above is one of the main reasons that the organizational performance initiative team took a step back some four months ago when they realized that before developing an organizational performance model or system, we need to be much clearer about what “good performance” means and by extension, how we define organizational strategy to achieve our vision and long term goals. Now that there are concrete proposals on the table in that regard, the selection of the actual tools, methods, and software are possible. Many useful lessons are being learned in El Salvador, that will serve not just that country office, but can serve the region (and the organization) as a whole as to whether the Balance Scorecard methodology is ultimately the one to be adopted as the most appropriate tool to manage the process.
Question #7: Will the indicators and performance management methodology just be for measuring progress at the regional level? Or at the country level as well?
Explain philosophy re shared regional priorities, for which all CO’s plan and measure in a consistent manner (and each initiative, whether implemented at the CO or regional level contributes), and country specific priorities, which are based on weaknesses, threat or opportunities for which a country team feels it needs to establish a specific performance improvement plan.
Question #8: How frequently will performance be measured and reported under the organizational performance model?
For most strategy and organizational support indicators, compilation, analysis and reporting to the regional level would occur once a year. For specific countries, teams may decide to increase the frequency for internal use for those indicators that have been included in the AOP and for any other selected indicators.
Actual data collection is likely to occur more when events happen, e.g. when designing or evaluating a program initiative, however, so that in many cases the “organizational performance” measurement is based on the compilation and analysis of the original data..
Question # 9: For many of the indicators, the unit of measurement chosen appears to be the number and/or percentage of program initiatives. Why?
This unit allows us to consider both traditional projects, initiatives of a different nature such as an advocacy initiative that cuts across several projects or countries, a regional initiative such as LAC ERAC or health reform, etc.
Question #10: To what extent are the indicators and methods selected focused on our internal assessment of performance? Isn’t it more important to have the perspective of donors and other external stakeholders?
Several indicators are specifically designed to find out the opinions of other stakeholders about CARE’s performance in terms of process, results and impact.
Several other indicators are derived from norms common to “the industry”, making comparison easier.
Finally, our program strategy, once aligned with the MDG and the CI Programming Principles will orient our work toward national objectives, and define targets and measure performance with others
Question #11: 37 indicators, plus the requirement to measure progress towards MDGs seems like a lot of work. I thought OP was supposed to make things simpler?
The 37 indicators represent an attempt to define good organizational performance, however, it is not expected that any Country Office will set targets for and monitor progress against all of them in any given year. The mechanism for analysis and planning described elsewhere basically requires a given Country office select 6-10 indicators associated with common worldwide and regional priorities and an additiona 4-5 indicators that are associated with just Country Office priorities
For comparison sake, CARE El Salvador was working with slightly over 20 measures in the BSC model in FY04, the AWV report has 36 indicators, and MACO has several hundred.
Question #12: Many of the indicators do not appear to include numbers or percentages. Don’t we have organizational norms and targets for performance?
In some cases, industry standards are available in which case these are referred to. Our own significant industry standard is the set of Programming Principles, and thus for all indicators associated with them, we aspire to get to 100%. However, we all realize that this will take some time.
Meanwhile, the process of analysis and target setting happens during both strategic and annual planning cycles, using the indicator as the base for the performance or strategic objective.
Because of variations in definitions etc, the setting of standards may also be hard initially to allow for valid comparison across countries. Better definition and experience will inform the establishment of norms and standards over the next few years.
Question #13: How will introducing the organizational performance model affect current planning and measurement systems like the LRSP and the AOP? What are the main differences between planning and measuring performance under the OP model compared to the AOP model?
Part of this was documented already in the PowerPoint presentation used in Antigua and in the new AOP format. The Guidelines for aligning program strategy with the MDG and CI PP provide guidance on integrating OP with the strategic planning process
Question #14: How will we deal with the issue of attribution, especially in terms of achieving the Millennium Development Goals?
Given the evolving nature of CARE’s work – with its increasing emphasis on advocacy to influence policies, resource allocation and empowerment as opposed to direct service delivery – don’t get hung up on the issue of “attribution.” To the contrary, if we want to be a global force, or, at the country office level, a national force, think instead about accountability in terms of the country making progress to those MDG targets we at CARE feel are most important, and that we can influence, through actions and strategic alliances, using the statistics published at part of the national MDG effort to monitor progress or identify issues. It will be very difficult to exactly measure what CARE’s contribution to achieving MDGs has been, and we should see ourselves as part of a movement that is jointly responsible for both successes and failures vis-à-vis these goals.
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