Organizations can facilitate public participation in policy development, provide leadership, disseminate information, help in problem diagnosis, and enhance decentralized decision-making (Andrews, 2002). When an organization is the focus or implementer of an initiative, its effectiveness can mean the difference between a successful and sustainable initiative and a temporary event. While organizational development is not a primary focus for water educators, an ability to analyze organization strengths and weaknesses enables educators to identify and recommend relevant strategies.
The major areas of organization management include:*
- Organizational planning
- Organizational structure
- Finance and accountability
What is an organization? Our conception is evolving. An organizations was thought of as a mindless entity, or an unminded system. We analyzed its workings using analytical thinking, the science of dealing with independent sets of variables. Current thinking views the organization as a sociocultural entity. With this perspective, we analyze it using holistic thinking, the art and science of handling interdependent sets of variables. This systems thinking perspective imagines the organization as focused more on purpose than on a goal. That is, “it can produce 1) the same outcome in different ways in the same environment and 2) different outcomes in the same or different environment.” This view encourages analysis of organizational effectiveness in the context of society, a larger purposeful whole, and from the point of view of its members, purposeful individuals (Gharajedaghi, 2006, pp. 9, 12-13).
According to this theory, organization systems are defined by five principles: openness, purposefulness, multidimensionality, emergent property (a quality larger than any one part), and counterintutitiveness (social dynamics are so complex that they can be difficult to analyze). Guidance and control are achieved by agreement based on a common perception (Gharajedaghi, pp. 29-49).
One method for facilitating organization development is through application of a strategic planning process. Strategic planning is a disciplined effort to produce fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, what it does, and why it does it. Benefits to an organization include promotion of strategic thought and action, improved decision-making, enhanced organizational responsiveness and improved performance, and strengthened teamwork and expertise among organization members (Bryson, 1995, pp. 5-7).
Andrews, E., M. Stevens, G. Wise. 2002. A model for community-based environmental education in New Tools for Environmental Protection: Education, Information, and Voluntary Measures. Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change. T. Dietz and P. C. Stern, eds. Division of Behavioral and social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Bryson, J. M. 1995. Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations. A Guide to Strengthening and Sustaining Organizational Achievement. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Gharajedaghi, J. 2006. System Thinking. Managing Chaos and Complexity: A Platform for Designing Business Architecture. New York: Elsevier.
Wolf, T. 1999. Managing a Nonprofit Organization in the Twenty-First Century. New York: Fireside.
* Innovation Network, http://innonet.org/?