By Prof. Vincent Bagire
Again, we have just had another vibrant celebration of 3rd June, Martyrs day. Once more, I found myself in the inner circle of the preparations. Through the preparations, I picked lessons which were galvanized at the evaluation on 12th June, by the Protocol Committee to which I belonged. I wish to highlight practical insights from management that were pertinent in seeing the day a success. This year, Tororo Archdiocese was the organizer. The hosting assignment is essentially “one day” but preparations must fully stretch over the months.
There is a multitude of issues to handle and become complex each other year. There is need for a relay pattern. For every year, the next diocese should be chosen early and they should select a core team of organizers to take part in the final preparations to draw lessons from the subsequent year. Their exposition in the inner circle of the event will open up their mind and when at stage, they will definitely handle certain issues with rich insights.
This is very critical and draws in at different levels. At the evaluation, there were concerns about the vendors and how they posed security difficulties. While the catholic secretariat is the overall organ charged with the event, this thorny issue is decided upon at the parish level and consensus has still eluded the two units of the church. There were decisions on offertory collection and emerging questions that remain unanswered. Issues of ushers, pavilion seats, screens, clearing paths and seating international delegations had all been decided upon. But on the ground, several board room decisions were untenable. This is a great lesson to avoid being heavily bent on what might never work. In the evaluation, it was noted that there were several power centres on ground operations and certain decisions were not coherent. In such organization with bureaucracy, decision centres must be few and articulate in guiding all action issues.
In Leadership Issue No. 437 of April 2005, I wrote about the use of committees in management. It is called management by adhocracy. It is common that in organizing events of this kind, there must be committees with sub committees charged with specific tasks. The committees enable the involvement of many people to own the event. This has worked well previously although this year, the evaluation pointed out some gaps in the coordination among committee heads. Certain decisions made in Tororo were not harmonized with reality on the ground.
Communication and Coordination
These two functions are very critical if the organizers have to get things right. I have written in this magazine (management column) that many organizations, including the church are not doing well on managerial communication, despite the availability of all these gadgets and technologies at our disposal. Should information be hidden or not availed as and when required? Not only will work stall, but, members will lose motivation and interpersonal conflicts will arise. On the platform for protocol, it was crowded with posts that were not relevant more than what the organization was about. This is where whatsApp platforms lose their intended purpose. Thus, communication is disrespected and coordination becomes flawed.
In our evaluation, there was great praise for the team work exhibited by the security forces. It was due to team work. The traffic, the VIP protection, the counter-terrorism, the Special Forces Command, Prisons, were all on the ground. Without teamwork, the successes registered would be in vain. Even among the various committees, team work is pertinent to geting the celebration dimensions harmonized. Team is the new concept of managing. Organizing Martyrs Day is an output of teamwork; from security officers, ushers, cleaners, celebrants to masters of ceremony. I must quickly add that teamwork develops gradually. So, the organizers must have a deliberate effort to building teams.
I have been privileged to be asked to manage time in many national events including the Pope’s visit. It is a management challenge. It had been agreed that all ushers be at the venue at 4am. But, some did not show up till 7am. The pilgrims on the other hand were time conscious albeit some VIPs who took it for granted that they would be ushered into seats any time they arrived. They were in for a shock as we had agreed to minimize disruptions in the inner circle once mass started. Previously, I emphasized that every critical activity to the success of the celebration be timed, including the hymns, procession and homily.
Finally, the congregation is getting to appreciate that the celebrations at Namugongo is ending early enough to allow return to distant destinations.
In protocol, we had a very active secretary and he kept record of all proceedings. It is good management that we always keep records of events. I hope the rest of the committees did so and at the documentation, add on the rich experience of organizing 3rd June.
A checklist is a very important yet simple tool in managing affairs of personal and organizational nature. A checklist is simply a list of things that have to be given attention. Things to purchase, follow up, do, people to contact, materials to assemble, when, by who, how etc. I did not interact with various committees, but, I learnt that checklists were never used; possibly that explains some mishaps that were witnessed. I have previously stated that forgetting a bottle opener for the high table can visibly spoil a well-financed party.
The whole success to be attained is attributable to effective leadership. Leadership gives command, direction and obedience. Leadership is not administration. Leaders thrive by inspiration. Certain aspects in the preparations were archetypal leadership while others took an administrative dimension. A few hitches were noticeable but overtaken by enthusiasm.
It’s good management practice to make an assessment of achievements compared with the set standards. Evaluation time is gratifying. I saw how relaxed and excited members were at the evaluation. We applauded each other, with ‘welcome from Namugongo; well-done’. I wish the next host was here to learn of what we did right and what did not go well. Gulu Archdiocese is hosting next year. For the next host, I request Episcopal Conference to make this decision soon, identify a core team to come closer towards the final preparations and to attend mass from the inner circle.
Going by the trend, we can suspect that it will be from Kampala ecclesiastical Province and not Kiyinda-Mityana. A little said, there are many lessons from Namugongo. The turn up of millions is an excitement. But, we must continuously improve in the management of the celebrations. I have not covered all the nitty-gritty of management lessons that we had. These lessons should trigger down to our dioceses and parishes. We always have events, how much do leaders prepare to host the Bishop or Diocesan Day? How much are laity professionals all over the country tapped into mainstream leadership or if they are busy, to involve them in such one-off events? I want to emphasize my proposition that the 3rd June preparations should always commence on 4th June each year just as the celebration ends.
Hosting this event practically expresses all dimensions of human nature – spiritual, financial, physical, emotional, mental, political and social growth. All are invited to join organizers.
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