By Prof. Vincent Bagire
In the last two preceding issues of Leadership, I shared critical thoughts on how several organizations are faced with system challenges. The two articles reflected the tasks used in revitalizing institutions. In this article, I wish to focus particularly on systems. How they are set up and how they work; why we need to build them and the benefits of having systems that work. By definition, a system is a collection of processes, procedures, tasks, rules and regulations that form a scheme leading to common results. It is a scheme of sub-systems, parts and elements which must be coordinated in a given natural way to get things moving. On the other hand, an organization is a set of activities and processes that are geared towards a common goal. This implies that an organization is a system.
Organizations or institutions function in a way that there are systems, with sub-systems, parts, units, elements, all of which must be coordinated and functional for the whole organization to run smoothly. The human resource management, the technical operations, the management functions, the financial system, the information system, the public relations, internal controls, accountability, etc. are all part of the big system. They must all be in good order for the organization to be healthy; as the health of the organization is its wealth. We can appreciate why several groups are unhealthy and equally un-wealthy.
In the last article, I stated that many times, when small elements in the system are neglected, cracks begin to show. Consequently, scuffles and conflicts, lack of commitment, negligence, hidden agendas, flopping meetings, lack of accountability, no reports; refusal to take up leadership, legal arguments, no minutes and financial distress among others begin to be vivid. When such have reached fever pitch, the group, be it the Parish council or even Diocesan, Ecclesial Association or Movement, etc. is weakened in pursuing the set objectives. I do not want to delve into lamentations. I am sure that in many Dioceses and Parishes, things are moving on well. Or, at least, there are leaders working tooth and nail to make things move smoothly albeit constraints.
The cracks could be there, manageable or still minor, or not noticed by the members. What is important though, is to set up systems that will insulate institutions against the likely effects as illustrated above. Let us not wish to see these ills before we work on them. We need to create systems and secondly, to always lubricate them as cars are taken for service or human beings go for medical checkups and subsequent treatments.
There are as diverse systems as are our organizations, whether in the Church or our secular world. Systems can be in-built at commencement or along the life of the organization. They are equally not rigid but, can be modified as reality unfolds. There are systems that may be enshrined in the guiding documents, others may be a matter of resolution at general meetings or agreed upon by way of simple decisions by the leadership team. Some systems are not documented but known to members and passed on from generation to another.
The notable systems are on financial management, leadership and management as defined by structure, information management, human resources and operations. Where possible and advisably so, these must be documented to avoid confusion, lapse of memory and selfish tendencies. If these elements are documented and known, the benefits are immense. They include; transparency, accountability, confidence, sustainability and controls, smooth operations, among others. With a lay out of the systems, one cannot falter as expectations of the adopted system and position are clear. This broadly enhances good leadership.
Most leaders govern according to their interests and go by their own ways. They are not held accountable to the people because there are no systems in place. They rather rejoice in the weak or lack of systems as this gives them leeway to do what they please. Eventually, the groups become weak, many potential leaders decline, contributions reduce, meetings do not realize quorum or fruitful ideas, dictatorial tendencies set in and other systems are equally affected. The health and wealth of the group weakens and could eventually collapse. This is preventable. Let us all do what it takes to revive our group systems.
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