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Capacity Building

Capacity Building is a fundamental building block for serious organizational or social change. How we define capacity building, our terms and assumptions can make or break our results. Do we give people what they need to be successful?

Members: 37
Latest Activity: May 7, 2013

Giving People the Tools and Information to be Successful

As members follow my different groups, it's easy to see they are all focused on very practical, "boots on the ground" questions related, to getting the job done. Each looks at common assumptions of knowledge, education, understanding, basic skills and know-how.

I challenge our assumptions of basic knowledge, at the ground floor, whether it be in evaluation, collaboration, social networking, and the need for mixed age teams, to maximize excellent results. This group, on capacity building, will focus on what systems, organizations and people need to be successful. What do we need to do to help them be successful.

I venture to say we may be setting some groups up for disappointment and failure. I don't think that is fair or responsible. We don't gain anything by just looking at what the smartest people know how to do, the trick is to broaden the circle and make it possible for us to act, walk and talk like what we want to create.

I propose we assume too much about what people know and understand, their willingness to change and their fundamental organizational skills to follow through successfully. Apart from a probable discomfort with change, I challenge our own lack of clarity in defining what we mean by collaboration, participation, accountability, transparency and data.

These words, what they mean and how they look are a constant work in progress. There may be some objective definitions, but how they look in different organizational systems and among the public may be quite different.

No less significant is our assumption that people actually know how to do the work needed, to be successful, and our lack of taking the time to teach and build confidence in skills, understanding and ability.

I don't think anyone has a corner on all the skills to be a confident agent of change within or without an organization or system. I think this group, along with others on GovLoop, can explore what we fundamentally need to do to create system readiness, as we place high expectations on performance.

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Comment by Andrea Schneider on March 8, 2011 at 8:33pm

I recently read Innovations in Government, what do you think about this report? It's very interesting. 

I don't think the American public has been oriented to the OGD.

It's in our best interest to build citizen capacity.  If implemented right, the Open Government Directive could save taxpayer dollars, change up how we do things, increase organizational capacity, use time and talent differently and leverage limited resources.

On another note:  I have a blog up called Sustainability in Government, I'd love your comments. 

Comment by Andrea Schneider on October 18, 2010 at 12:49pm
Do you believe that your agency or organization has the skills needed to implement the Open Government Directive? If not, what do you think is missing?
What would you provide support and training in? What are 3 key things which might change to successfully implement OGD?
We are at our best when we exchange ideas and enter the dialog, whether you agree or not. So let's have a go at it.
Comment by Andrea Schneider on August 9, 2010 at 7:12pm
I was talking with a CEO of an energy start-up yesterday about what they are doing. Sounded like they had the technology part figured out, just received venture capitol and were still stumped about how to make is simple and easy to understand for community leaders and citizens.
Seems easy as long as we are talking to ourselves, what happens when the conversation has to include those not even in the loop?

I've always figured I was successful when those I am training or educating are successful. What do you do to make sure people have what they need to do their job? In communities where local public policy can make or break any project?
No one wants to feel stupid. How are we helping those local leaders feel "in" rather than "out"?
Comment by Keith Houin on May 13, 2010 at 1:22pm
Looks like I have been missing some interesting discussion. My apolgies for the absence, but i just spent 17 14-hour days in a secure building running a trainng scenario. Discussion was the last thing on my mind by the time I got back to the hotel each night. I think I had one social post the entire time.
Comment by Andrea Schneider on May 11, 2010 at 8:01pm
Hi Justin,
Change is a really big subject. When we ask about organizational change, that can sharpen our focus, we can crystallize even further by looking closely at government and all the norms, rules, behavior's, politics, ... of each sector within each government agency. We have to look at a total picture, which would also include looking at organizational culture, let's say of the Department of Education.
My guess is the organizational change challenges may look quite different than the Department of Defense. To get at what we want we need to drill way down and then move back and see what we have in common and what not at all.
I feel like I just jumped down Alice's Rabbit Hole and quickly jumped back out!

How we are going to work out system, organizational and government change in a transparent environment is a really good question, feels like an oxymoron. There are several really good groups on this site looking more closely at organizational change, creativity and government.
There should be a lot of capacity building if we are doing a good job of creating sustainable change, but what you are asking is a bigger subject. I do not intend to discourage you at all, you are asking the right questions.
Comment by Andrea Schneider on May 11, 2010 at 6:31pm
Hi Justin,
Change is a really big subject. When we ask about organizational change, that can sharpen our focus, we can crystallize even further by looking closely at government and all the norms, rules, behavior's, politics, ... of each sector within each government agency. We have to look at a total picture, which would also include looking at organizational culture, let's say of the Department of Education.
My guess is the organizational change challenges may look quite different than the Department of Defense. To get at what we want we need to drill way down and then move back and see what we have in common and what not at all.
I feel like I just jumped down Alice's Rabbit Hole and quickly jumped back out!

How we are going to work out system, organizational and government change in a transparent environment is a really good question, feels like an oxymoron. There are several really good groups on this site looking more closely at organizational change, creativity and government.
There should be a lot of capacity building if we are doing a good job of creating sustainable change, but what you are asking is a bigger subject. I do not intend to discourage you at all, you are asking the right questions.
Comment by Justin Mosebach on May 10, 2010 at 4:32pm
Andrea, I'm interested in how culture change takes place within a government organization which is not as transparent as they could/should be.
Comment by Andrea Schneider on May 10, 2010 at 4:19pm
We may be talking about two different things here. One is internal organizational change/capacity building for change and the second, entirely different. Targeting the recipient of the grant, stimulus money, project or program. Usually this would be in the public domain, always leaving people with more than what they had when they started their work.
These two capacity building focus points have similar components, but radically different purposes and outcomes.
Comment by Justin Mosebach on May 10, 2010 at 3:47pm
Thanks for the advice all. Andrew, I'm looking forward to that blog post!
Comment by Andrea Schneider on May 10, 2010 at 2:59pm
Like the activity and questions. I think part of anchoring solid capacity building efforts is to integrate them into whatever program or grant being developed. It increases sustainability, reduces cost, best practices could be shared across organizations collaboratively and a private learning model could be used in the public sector.
If we are spending the dollars we are and not leaving any thing behind (this may not be true of all projects) that enable the recipients to carry on is a possible waste of money and time. It would seem to me that any credible senior leader would want to know that some of the effort is sustainable over time, or could be if thought about.
Anxious to hear about Switch.

Long story short, I think we rarely talk about capacity building as one strong block for the endurance following funding. Like a rubber band, snaps back into place, especially on change projects.
 

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