Some NGO Doodles

I woke up yesterday morning thinking about the structures that organizations follow and I made the following drawing in my notebook.Organization Structures

I don’t want to go in and analyze the drawing but I think that many people who read my blog frequently can maybe know what I mean by these doodles.  Everyone can argue forever about which system is better than others, but I definitely know organizations here in Haiti and internationally that fit each one of these models.  Some are very dependent on one single person and if you take that person away the whole structure falls apart.  Others lack the potential for sustainability or a plan for succession whereas others just lack leadership.  Then there are some that keep everyone actively involved and connected to the others and some models that allow for more room for growth.  Each system has pros and cons depending on who you ask.  If I thought about what I do here in Haiti I know where I think I would place my own organization but I also think that my existence here when considering all the things I’m involved in besides my organization fits a completely different pattern.  So anyway, there’s the drawing.  I simply wanted to share it as a way to think about why so many different groups exist and why we can’t seem to agree on anything at times.

I’ve been back in Haiti for a few weeks now after a long stay in the states and I think that the biggest thing that I’ve learned so far is that the work you do should be done in such a way that everyone else can carry it out in your absence but the life that you live should be lived in such a way that it makes everyone desire your presence.  I think this has something to do with this drawing as well and it is a conversation that I’ve been having with some friends in the nonprofit world lately.  I hope that I’ve built an organization in such a way that if something would happen that as of tomorrow I could no longer be involved, then everyone else involved would be able to continue towards the same goals without me.  But, as long as I’m alive and well, we might as well keep doing it all together.  Because we all like each other (most of the time) and things just work better with everyone collaborating.  I think it’s a little silly when organizations have the attitude that the leaders, whether outsiders or local, have to train new leaders and then get out.  I think it’s much more effective to train new leaders to join the current ones.  Train new leaders in case the current ones have to leave, but until that time, lead together.

I had made the decision to move back to the states although staying involved with my activities here in Haiti, and so far am planning to stick with that decision.  But I still don’t know exactly what the whole solution to making that decision work well looks like.  I think part of the solution lies in decoding this drawing.  Whatever lines and shapes lead to defining that solution I know that they will align to make a beautiful work of art nonetheless, something more than just some messy squiggles.  Too many messy squiggles in this world already.

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