Monday, 5 December 2011

What I've been working on

I have just started my fourth week with I Choose Life (ICL) and I cannot tell you where the past 3 weeks have gone.  They are a blur.  It feels as though I have just started and have been there a year all at the same time.  I am mostly settled into my work, although there is still a bit of work for the CEO and I to do around my objectives which will take place on Wednesday this week.

Some of my colleagues during the fortnightly Manager's Meeting.  My first experience of this meeting was 6 hours - although this particular meeting was 5 hours.
I'm working on a couple pieces of work at the moment, but quite a bit of the past few weeks has been spent on conducting an audit of what has happened in the area of Resource Mobilisation over the past 12 months and meeting individually with the 6 members of the Resource Mobilisation Team to ask them a series of questions in order to gain a better understanding of how the team works.  The products of both have been interesting - although perhaps not unsurprising.  It appears that there is very little joined up fundraising work currently taking place, there are lots of knowledge gaps with regards to funders and where responsibility for various aspects of contract management sit, and the volume and quality of fundraising work which has taken place was far less than I had initially thought.  All this information has been very valuable, and after discussing these with the CEO (who agreed fully with the findings) I have been able to use this in creating my 2012 workplan as well as the first draft of my VSO placement objectives (the key things I and ICL agree should be complete by the time I finish).

From left: Yegon (the IT guru), Mike (the founder and CEO of ICL), and Pascal (one of the Project Managers).
The feedback from my individual meetings with the Resource Mobilisation Team members was also not necessarily surprising, but was very telling.  It is a relatively new team, the product of a somewhat hasty restructure through which the current team members were assigned to the department without necessarily having any interest, experience or skills in the area (only one reported they were happy to be on the team).  The team members currently spend their time researching potentisl bids and developing Concept Notes (similar to an Expression of Interest), but do not at present work on full proposals - which is currently done primarily by the CEO and Programmes Coordinator.  And even their research skills need support as there are cases of applying for funding which the organisation was clearly not eligible for. Numerous yet similar concerns were expressed from the team members about the structure of the department and I realised the full extent to which I have my work cut out for me if I intend to leave ICL in a year and a half with an operational Resource Mobilisation Department.  

My colleague June and I.
After thinking quite a lot on what the best way to present my findings from the team interviews to the CEO and HR manager would be, I settled on a conventional SWOT analysis template (thank you Francis Cooper and Cass Business School) for the reason that it would enable me to present the feedback in categories (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) without putting too much of my own interpretation on it.  The recommendations I divided into short, medium and long term and included the outcomes I hope to be achieved through each of the actions.  The short term recommendations include actions such as the team members meeting monthly with me and changing their job roles to specifically include proposal development and writing (which they unanimously requested), and long term recommendation is to recruit a Resource Mobilisation Officer in October next year to begin a 6 month training up and handover with myself (a key action in order for my work to be sustainable through skill sharing - which is the VSO model).

Wambui (Finance Manager) and Sarah on a much needed lunch break in the sun.

This is all work in progress, but I am optimistic about the work I will be and am already doing at I Choose Life.  The Resource Mobilisation Team is great (sadly no pictures of them here - but will in future) and several are extremely eager to learn.  The organisation is an exciting place to be at the moment as it is in a period of evolution, currently diversifying into support for civil society in the areas of leadership and governance and is positioning itself to play a role in ensuring that citizens are making informed choices in the upcoming elections and holding their leaders to account - which is very exciting work (and about which I will write more in future).  All in all a good start to week 4. 

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