C O V E R S T O R Y
Whether or not they planned it, the everyday work of many successful environmental organizations fits into a set management pattern that enables them to effectively achieve their goals.
At a Training-of-Trainers workshop held June 9-12 in Budapest, Hungary, participants learned about a step-by-step framework they can use to carry out the successful management of their organizations.
Selected trainers from across Central and Eastern Europe participated in the four-day "Managing an Environmental Organization" course. It was the first time this course habeen deliverd in an on-site workshop.
The training was taught by Cheryl Bentley, Elaine Wright, Mary McCaffery and Ranelle Rae, all from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This dynamic and skilful foursome were very inspiring, and their enthusiasm was so contagious that even sections that could easily have been boring - like making financial and progress reports - didn't seem so painful.
|THE PROJECT MANAGEMENT CYCLE|
The steps to managing a project or organization can be illustrated by the following diagram. Successful managment begins with laying a strong foundation (a clear vision and good communication) and continues with building upon that base. All of these parts are interdependent Ñ one weak brick and the pyramid can fall.
This course teaches participants how to manage one project or many, aid personal and professional development, help conduct business outside the CEE region and respond to frequent change. The management of an organization is broken down into six essential, interrelated parts:
Problems within an organization usually spring from a weakness in one of the above areas. Strengthening the organization often begins by observing which step has been neglected and needs more capacity building or clarification.
Communication is crucial in every step and throughout the whole process because all the different viewpoints need to be taken into account. Much time and resources are wasted due to misunderstandings that could easily be avoided if enough importance, and therefore time and resources, were given to making sure that there is an accepted common understanding of where the organization is going and how it plans to get there.
It is also relevant that all individuals feel the importance of their work and contribution to achieve the vision of the organization. The issue here is allocating the time in the environmental organization's busy schedule for learning the steps, understanding their importance and implementing them in everyday situations. It is not as much a question of resources as it is of a commitment from all the levels of the organization to learn and implement the lessons presented.
The basis of the technique presented is actually very simple. During the four day period, we gradually built up the outline of the program management model piece by piece. We started with the vision and worked our way to the organization's resources. The completed outline of the management model was not given to us until the very end of the course.
If the chart is observed carefully, it can be noticed that all the steps are very dependent upon each other. Whichever starting point is chosen for analyzing the current situation, all the steps would have to be worked into the management of the project or organization.
It looks amazingly simple and probably very known and recognizable. However, the actual work with a case study, using the tools and techniques, shows the great importance each and all of the steps.
There was, however, one relevant suggestion that was well noted by the trainers but was not possible to implement at the time of this particular course. Our case study was based on an imaginary country in CEE with certain environmental problems. It would have been more useful and relevant to use a real case study and problem for learning and applying the management skills and techniques taught in the course.
The two key points that I noticed as valuable in this training and management technique are simplicity and clarity. The management jargon that we all know very well seemed to be getting a new and greater meaning in the everyday situations that we are dealing with.
Also, the skilful way in which the trainers made a fun atmosphere and involved everyone in the learning process exemplified the way of simplicity and clarity. They kept rotating their roles and each of them presented sections of the training material in a different and unique style. It was as if we couldn't wander off with our attention even if we tried. They also continually checked to make sure we understood what they were teaching and they often stopped to repeat material and clarify any confusion.
Now that the workshop is finished, I am happy to have the opportunity to present this technique to the Local Office and Outreach Department of the Regional Environmental Center. I am sure that it will help us find solutions and new ideas for many of the issues that we deal with on a daily basis.
A native of Slovenia, Melita Rogelj now works with the Local Office and Outreach Department of the Regional Environmental Center, where she is responsible for coordinating efforts between the REC head office in Budapest and its local offices in Slovenia and Yugoslavia.