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The Herald – Zimbabwe
By: Dr Rudo Grace Gwata-Charamba
Vision 2030, is to be realised through the implementation of the two and a quarter year “Transitional Stabilisation Programme” (TSP) (2018-2020) and two Five-Year Development Strategies (2021- 2030).
The programmes are aimed at transforming the economy “Towards a Prosperous and Empowered Upper Middle-Income Society with Job Opportunities and High Quality of Life for its Citizens”. Transformation entails doing things differently which, according to the TSP document, included the full adoption of the Results Based Management (RBM) strategy, and using the Rapid Results Initiative (RRI) or 100-day projects methodology.
Literature shows that, the success of a strategy is determined by its compatibility with the prevailing culture, a factor often regarded as an incredibly powerful factor in an organisation’s long-term success.
In fact, it is said: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Specifically, a strategy, regardless of its quality, is doomed if it is not aligned to the organisational culture because the latter drives the organisation, its actions as well as its results.
Conversely, a culture can help to achieve change and build organisations that thrive, including within the most unfavourable environments. Against this background, change of culture is thus essential for the successful implementation of the TSP as well as realisation of Vision 2030.
Culture refers to the tacit social order of an organisation that shapes values and attitudes of members and also guides how they think, act and feel. It is a permanent and significant part of every organisation that conveys a sense of identity to members as well as provide unwritten and, often, unspoken guidelines regarding how the organisation operates. Explicitly, it comprises the learned assumptions on which people base their daily behaviour, depicting “The way we do things around here.”
Associated cultural norms define what is encouraged, discouraged, accepted or rejected within the group.
Dominant leadership styles, symbols, procedures, routines and the definition of success typically reflect an organisation’s culture. The tacit nature of a culture makes it elusive, complex and sometimes, intimidating as well as frustrating, often forcing leaders and managers to dodge, neglect or discount it, despite its significance.
Strategy and culture are among the primary levers that can help organisations to maintain viability and effectiveness with strategy offering a formal logic for the corporate goals and positioning people around them. Relatedly, culture expresses goals through the values and beliefs of organisational members and guides activity through shared assumptions and group norms.
Nonetheless, the relationship between culture and strategy is often underestimated. Consequently, culture is subordinated, misunderstood or unappropriated leading to poor performance and failure of the programmes as well as the organisation.
That is new strategies are introduced but people continue to demonstrate old behaviour as if executing the old strategy and thus positioning the former for failure.
RBM is a broad management strategy that aims at improving people’s lives through the achievement of clearly defined and measurable changes, in the behaviour or conditions of the target population.
The achievement of these changes termed “results”, the primary focus of the project, detects the course of action for all project elements and processes, including the assignment of responsibility and accountability to stakeholders. The related systems are designed to strengthen management effectiveness, efficiency and accountability and improve project delivery, including preventing corruption; high-level priorities of the TSP.
The strategy thus represents a significant departure from traditional management approaches, used in public entities, where emphasis is on the completion of tasks under a set of rules and regulations. Likewise, an administrative culture, characterised by unethical behaviour, including corrupt activities, weak work commitment and the absence of a sense of service, prevails in these entities. In addition, the behaviour of many stakeholders, particularly project implementers, is driven by selfish interests, instead of serving for the common good.
Because of these very significant differences, the adoption and implementation of RBM customarily demands the creation and nurturing of a sustained culture of results. Such culture is an equally significant departure from the administrative culture, associated with traditional management strategies mentioned above.
A culture emphasises the use of experiential evidence relating to progress towards the achievement that, that the entity seeks to achieve, for informing management decision-making. Accordingly, entrenching such a culture involves changing mindsets and instituting measures to promote the effective achievement of results. In fact, a culture of results is regarded as a lynchpin to RBM’s effectiveness and thus a prerequisite for its implementation and consequent, improved performance
The TSP document identifies weaknesses, encompassing general low confidence and poor performance, emanating from wide-spread inefficiencies, weak controls as well as corrupt practices, in public institutions.
In addition, there was a lot of pessimism and anxiety among most stakeholders regarding the implementation of development programmes. Addressing these inadequacies implies doing things differently thus again pointing to the dire need for the creation of an equally different culture. Transformation to a culture of results is likely to be a viable solution since it promotes the effective implementation of the RBM strategy, also known to have great potential to deal with most, if not all, of the weaknesses as well as the underlying problems as well as improving programme delivery.
Traditional management approaches, with an administrative culture in place, entail concentration on ensuring compliance and tracking resources, activities, completion of project tasks and production of deliverables. Accordingly, the knowledge requirements for project implementers are limited to familiarity, with the standards of operations, while the individuals or groups are merely accountable, for their behaviour, to the supervisor.
Due to these limitations, brilliant strategies are often formulated, sound decisions and commitments made but nothing happens. Likewise, creative ideas and innovative plans get thwarted by bureaucratic processes and energy-draining efforts that again do not yield anything.
In the same context, what are termed results are weighted around activities while the reports ordinarily comprise lengthy listings of initiatives launched and actions undertaken. However, the reality is that activities, regardless of how impressive or well executed, bear little meaning if they fail to achieve any changes in people’s lives.
The practice, guided by an inappropriate culture, leads to poor implementation of initiatives and failure to attain the objectives of the associated programmes.
Furthermore, business processes and capacity requirements, pertaining to the two strategies, are substantially different. RBM starts with selecting a destination (identifying the desired change at the end of the initiative), then deciding on the best available route to reach that destination while checking against a map and making adjustments as necessary. This ensures that people do the right thing at the right time leading to success of initiatives. Stakeholders therefore need enhanced capacities for meeting the demands of both the goals of TSP and the RBM strategy. Such capacity also needs to be continuously developed and sustained.
A culture of results entails primarily focusing on achieving target results, rather than just putting in the time or performing tasks, as well as continuous improvement in the implementation of projects and programmes. It underscores the use of clear metrics that help to understand whether or not results have been achieved and also helps to create an environment which consistently promotes high-level performance and the attainment of real corporate goals.
The production of planned deliverables remains highly valued although organisational focus goes, far beyond the processes, to inquiry about progress towards improving the lives of the target population. With a mindset that emphasises achievement, impeccable service, and problem solving, project implementers value people and are genuinely interested in their welfare, the real the business of the organisation, rather than only valuing the delivery of goods and services.
For example, in an organisation where the results culture prevails, results are elevated over activities as primary focus is on the former. All stakeholders recognise that effort and good intentions are no substitute for results.
The results at each stage of a project are measured, with the help of indicators, and weighted around milestones reached as well as achieved changes in people’s lives or progress towards the same. This helps foster buy-in and commitment among stakeholders leading to successful implementation of projects and programmes. unity of members to be committed to making educated decisions to achieve the desired end result.
The difference between practices associated with the strategies and associated cultures can be demonstrated by an example relating to the utilisation of time on communication, one of the major shortcomings of the traditional approaches and the typical associated culture. Employees often engage others in unnecessary conversation and meetings, in effort to “kill” the eight hours required at the workplace. With RBM, and a culture of results, secondary communication is kept to a minimum and restricted to only that which is important and necessary for the achievement of results.
Similarly, all other activities that do not effectively contribute to the achievement of results are discarded.
Furthermore, the assumption of mutual accountability is the norm where a culture of results exists.
Every stakeholder is responsible and accountable for the achievement of results. This usually helps to reduce the levels of negativity, complaining and assignment of blame, that are typically evident during the implementation of reform programmes, the TSP included. All entities focus on their areas of responsibility, and consistently supply and demand information required to drive such successful implementation. All stakeholders are also responsible for anticipating risks as well as exposing and resolving conflicts that block results.
An important component of mutual accountability relates to the discussion of off-track performance directly and effectively.
From the continuous performance measurement processes, discussions are held in an effort to improve progress towards the achievement of results.
In the absence of an appropriate culture people often connive to avoid such discussion, thus leaving remedial action until too late and the performance is ultimately judged as failure.
At the core of programme and organisational success is the performance of individuals, teams and the total organisation which is shaped by the prevailing culture. That implies the significant of efforts to bring about desired behaviour change.
The creation of a culture of results to promote the effective implementation of the TSP is, therefore, essential. This is because, without change in culture, the programme runs the risk of being implemented using the traditional management strategy as guided by same old mindsets and attitudes, determined to be undesirable, which are also not aligned to the new strategy.
Also, the indifference to inappropriate behaviour and negativity towards the implementation of development programmes, including the TSP, that is evident in some groups of stakeholders could be explained by an absence of strategy-culture alignment where attitudes and mindsets are yet to warm up to the new initiatives.
Although change, including transformation, of culture often proves to be a daunting task for many organisations, it is possible and worthwhile.
The process ought to begin with analysis of the prevailing culture and get stakeholders to fully understand how far it aligns with current and anticipated environment and conditions. This will help to facilitate determination of the necessary course of action to ensure a sustainable strategy-culture alignment and successful implementation of projects.
In addition, there is need to fully appreciate what worked in the past may no longer work in the future, and also what worked for one organisation may not work for another thus the need to continuously assess the strategy-culture fit.
The New Times – Rwanda
By: Amani Mabano
All organisms modify their environment, and so do humans. As the human population has grown and the power of technology has expanded, the intensity and nature of this alteration has drastically increased. Most of all ecosystems are dominated by humans, and no ecosystem on Earth’s surface is free of prevalent human influence (Vitousek et al., 1997). This is an Epoch called Anthropocene (Lewis & Maslin, 2015), where species extinction is happening at unprecedented rates (1,000 times faster than it should without human activities). Thus, humanity is responsible for the sixth mass extinction, the only one caused by a living organism.
Four major anthropogenic activities are key drivers of this biodiversity loss; (i) habitat loss and fragmentation, (ii) global climate change (iii) invasive alien species and (iv) natural resource overexploitation (e.g. over-hunting, over-fishing).
As my previous article on these pages talked about the effects of habitat loss and fragmentation on biodiversity, the present article will discuss how climate change, mainly global warming, can affect biodiversity (and human well-being) by (i) displacing species pole-wards or further up in elevation, (ii) changing species interactions, and leading to (iii) biodiversity loss (species extinction). Since 40% of world’s economy is derived from biological resources (Reed, 2012), biodiversity loss will drastically lower the quality of human life and will take millions of years to reverse. If humanity is to survive this ecocide, we need to halt human over-population and natural capital over-consumption.
The climate (long-term weather patterns of a region, including temperature, wind, humidity, and precipitation) of the Earth is affected by two competing processes: greenhouse gas effect and atmospheric convection (Spencer, 2009). Solar energy is converted to heat when it reaches the Earth. Almost 40% of that heat is reflected into space. This is known as Earth’s albedo or reflectivity. Due to gases called greenhouse gases (CO2, water vapors, methane, nitrogen oxides, chlorofluorocarbon, hydrofluorocarbon, sulfur hexafluoride, and nitrogen trifluoride) that heat does not continue upper in the atmosphere, which acts to warm the lower atmosphere. This process is known as global warming. Major greenhouse gas emissions are from the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas), deforestation, and intensive livestock farming (Ripple et al., 2014), and the main greenhouse gas is CO2.
Climate models forecast that atmospheric CO2 concentrations will be 1, 000 parts per million (ppm), from current concentrations of 480 ppm. As a result, global air temperature will rise by 4.8 0C by the end of this century (IPCC, 2013). This increase in global air temperature will have strong impacts on biological communities and ecological processes (Friberg et al., 2009). For instance, 20-30% of animal and plants species are likely to be at increased risk of extinction if increases in global temperature exceed 1.5 to 2.5 0C (IPCC, 2007). For millions of years, species have evolved to survive within certain temperature ranges, and temperature decreases with increasing altitude and latitude. So, when temperature increases, some species are expected to retreat pole-wards or to higher altitudes (Parmesan, 2006). Unfortunately, natural landscapes have been severely fragmented that some species will have no ways to track their environmental conditions.
Mountain gorillas, say, are in the roof of Rwanda, they occupy the highest ecosystem (Volcanoes National Park) above sea-level in Rwanda. They have no further up to go, in this country. They should escape to the Swiss Alps, but, of course, that will be nearly boiling the ocean. Cairo and Madrid will be in their way, they will be caught between a rock and a hard place. They will either adapt or they will go extinct, but, since nature abhors a vacuum, other species may flourish to occupy the vacant ecological niche. For the latter, climate warming will not be just an ill wind that blows no good. As a way of adaptation, other species will modify their life histories and phenology (Root et al., 2003), metabolic rates and body size (Brown et al., 2004). According to the thermal reaction norm, ectotherms (cold-blooded animals) reared at high temperature lay small eggs and have a small size as adults, which has a negative effect on their fitness (survival, fecundity, and mating success) (Honek, 1993). These changes will negatively impact species interactions (Hughes, 2000), where many species will be doomed to extinction.
Moreover, there are species with temperature – and genotypic-dependent sex determination, TSD and GSD, respectively. Some species exhibiting TSD produce males only at low temperatures (Hays et al., 2017). For these species, there is fear that increasing temperature will lead to single-sex populations and, therefore, population or species extinction. Rising temperatures will lead to the melting of glaciers, rising sea level, coral bleaching (Plass-Johnson et al., 2015), frequent wildfires, and desertification of already arid regions. It is also expected that, due to climate change, the Earth will face heavy rainfalls (since evaporation increases with temperature) which will increase erosion and nutrients loading in aquatic ecosystems (Rosenzweig et al, 2007). This high nutrient concentration in water bodies will result in eutrophic (high concentration of nutrients) and anoxic (deprived of oxygen) systems known as dead zones (Broman et al., 2017).
On the other hand, elevated CO2 will result in wood encroachment in savannahs (Stevens et al., 2016), ocean acidification (Wood et al., 2016), plants/crops with less nutritional value for humans and other living organisms (Dietterich et al., 2015), and, of course, global warming.
Environmental problems have been the root cause of numerous collapses, including Rapa Nui, Maya, and Norse civilizations, in the past (Diamond, 2005). These were just local or regional collapses. But today, humanity’s global civilization, the worldwide, increasingly interconnected, highly technological society in which we all are, to one degree or another, embedded, is threatened with collapse. Anthropogenic activities, transportation means and food production, are the main cause of climate change. Climate change is causing species extinction, and ecosystem services (benefits humans obtain from ecosystems) from these species are critical to human well-being. Thus, losing natural ecosystems will lower the quality of our life.
To paraphrase Jared Diamond (in his “The rise and the fall of the third chimpanzee, 1991”), I would not have written this article if I thought that the threat was remote, but I also would not have written it if I considered our situation hopeless. The Paris agreement reached at the COP21 in 2015 was a historic milestone and represented an international compromise to hold the increase of global average temperature to well below 2 0C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 0C above pre-industrial levels (UNFCCC, 2015). The agreement makes it clear that scientists are not trying to make a mountain out of a molehill when they talk about climate change. Additionally, the agreement understands that science has made it clear that there is no time to let the dust settle. And science has done a lot (even though being far from enough) to light a fire under global leaders who signed the Paris agreement, on December 12, 2015. The Paris report of the UNFCCC clearly outlines what should be done to mitigate and adapt to climate change, but people can also have a look at the latest “World scientists’ warning of a climate emergency, 2019”.