Future Organizational Model and Culture

The Tension

Participants in the consultation have expressed concerns that the organisation can be overly bureaucratic, slow to change and not as efficient as it could be.  The fast changing world requires greater focus on foresight (being able to anticipate change) and agility. The capacity to be opportunistic and to pivot quickly will be increasingly important as the pace of change externally continues to quicken and to transform.  As technologies and other social changes democratise access to information and enable direct civic action, questions emerge about how a large (and often vertical) structure such as the RCRC can engage with flatter more dynamic external networks, that are rapidly emerging and tacking social, development and humanitarian issues. The size of the network is undoubtedly one of its greater strengths as is the localised nature of our volunteers and branches. Participants in consultations felt that improvements are needed in the way we collaborate internationally, cooperate and resource each other to ensure greater efficiency and impact. The need to be ambidextrous; continuing to build strong local capacity to drive local action, while recognising that many of the greatest threats to humanity are cross border and require more effective regional and global cooperation.

Some Issues identified in the S2030 consultations

  • Our network requires not just a more agile model and structure, but a more distributed, networked approach that is exploring completely different models of cooperation and partnership, that is focused on reimagining our collective roles in supporting local action
  • New allies and partners will be essential as the sector continues to change and the scope of humanitarian challenges outbalance the capacity of the sector to address them.
  • Building a culture and systems that promote and enable innovation will be important
  • The appetite for risk in the organisation will need to be carefully examined, allowing for experimentation with new models and approaches while still ensuring the protection of the organisation and the communities we support.
  • Many of the concerns about the way we organise ourselves internationally have consistently been raised for about 100 years. What can we do this time that is different that means we won’t still be asking these questions in another 100 years? What is our imperative and will for change?

Any idea what this is?

  1. Insist on doing everything through “channels.” Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.

  2. When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and considera­tion.” Attempt to make the committees as large as possible – never less than five.

  3. Haggle over precise wordings of com­munications, minutes, resolutions.

  4. Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.

  5. Advocate “caution.” Be “reasonable” and urge your fellow-conferees to be “reason­able” and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.

  6. Be worried about the propriety of any decision – raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the jurisdiction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.

This is from the Office of Strategic Services (The WWII precursor to the CIA). It is an excerpt from the Simple Sabotage Field manual, a publication distributed to resistance fighters who worked in the enemy’s companies and organisations. It is advice on how to slow down and disrupt an organisation. This particular chapter is on how to disrupt meetings and conferences. The thinking being that the cumulative effect of these thousands of barely detectable individual acts would wear down the Axis powers and prevent them from achieving their goals.

National Societies have consistently raised in the Strategy 2030 consultations that one of the main issues we need to address are our organisational models and culture. They have suggested we need reduced bureaucracy, hierarchy, centralised decision making and a more effective way of working together and a culture that is more outward and forward looking.

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What actions can we begin immediately to address the challenges we are currently facing?

What future focused actions can we start to experiment with to address emerging trends that are likely to impact on us in the next 10 years?

What is the value of us taking this action?

What are the barriers that exist for us to tackle this issue?