Jan 12, 2012 Letters
I recently heard an official from the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) commenting on the News, that the problem at the council is basically financial. It is indeed obvious that the organization has a profound financial problem nevertheless; I think this is the secondary problem.
The organization seems to have three basic problems: The first has to do with its relationships/partnerships; the second is behavioural and the third is financial. I think that the relationships/partnerships and behavioural problems are the primary ones while the financial is the secondary problem.
If the M&CC improves its financial capacity but does not strategically and systemically address its relationships/partnerships and behavioral issues; the goals and objectives of the organization would still not be achieved – which is basically to have a clean, healthy and well managed city.
The M&CC needs to develop a long term solution to its problems using current leadership and management techniques and tools. The organization is trying to find new solutions by using old methods, this will sum up to the same results.
The way forward could be to develop a three-tier strategy. One component focusing on improving the relationships/partnerships with its various stakeholders; the other focusing on behavioural change, specifically focusing on residents/occupants and other city dwellers; and the third, its cost recovery/financial programme.
With regards to building relationships and strategic partnerships, the M&CC has to improve its relationship with its various stakeholders. The current leadership approach that is being used by the organization and its stakeholders is the ‘lose/lose’ approach. However, in this scenario, some stakeholders may think that it is a ‘win/lose’ approach but it is not.
What do I mean by ‘win/lose’? It simply means that some stakeholders may think that they are getting their way while others are not. Why is the leadership style in this instance more a ‘lose/lose’? Simply because the objectives of all stakeholders are not being met – the city is in a mess.
Let’s admit it; nobody is happy with the state of the city. Not the Mayor, nor the Councilors, nor the staff, the government, contractors, residents or visitors. I do believe that all of these parties have a genuine interest in having a clean and healthy city. So what can be done about it?
A clean and healthy city will be more enabling for tourism, ensure good public health and general health, improvements in the current flood situation, among others. The benefits will be enormous.
Current leadership styles are moving more in the direction of partnerships/collaboration, conciliation, compromise, synergy; generally a ‘win/win’ approach which is quite relevant in this case since the stakeholders have such an interdependent relationship. Win/win’ means that the results would be mutually satisfying and beneficial to all parties involved. The leadership style should not continue to be your way or my way; it should reflect the better way.
All of the stakeholders, both in the leadership and management of the M&CC and others bring an added value to the table and if it is seen in this light, then unthinkable progress can be made. The council, the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor and staff of the council; the government and the residents in the city, all bring an added value which needs to be recognized and respected for the M&CC to successfully achieve its mandate.
All stakeholders need to learn how to and show more respect for each other. Trust has to be built or rebuilt in some instances. At the moment, the relationships seem to be more adversarial and confrontational. Could there be more synergy developed in the relationships/partnerships among the stakeholders?
Secondly, the Council needs to have as a part of its broader management plan, a behavioural change strategy. One main component of this behavioural change programme should be the creation of a prototype of the kind of city we would like to have. This concept should be communicated to citizens.
All things are created twice. The first creation is mental and the second is the physical. If people do not conceptualize mentally what they are working towards, it is difficult to conform. Whereas if the picture is vivid in the ‘mind’s eye’ then it is highly possible that behaviour will conform to that image. So the question is what kind of city do Guyanese want? Well then let’s start creating it and take responsibility for managing and maintaining it. Of course this is the first stage of the behavioural programme and the rest will follow.
On the point of behavioural change, I have seen the council remove garbage from various parts of the city and the very next day, there are new piles of garbage at those exact locations. Similarly the practice of contractors in conducting their constructions and handling builders waste across the city; issues of market occupants and the management of various users of the facilities in the city, all constitute to a behavioural problem.
The M&CC can possibly solicit support for the relationship/partnership and behavioural change components from international organizations with thematic focus on areas such as health, public health, sanitation, hygiene, children, women, environmental, disaster management, etc while the cost recovery/financial component would be done otherwise.
A strategic programme to improve relationships/partnerships and forming new ones along with a tactical behavioural programme and the cost recovery/financial plan, may very well be a more long term solution to solving the woes of the M&CC.
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