Learning to say ‘no’

One of the seductive aspects of ‘strategic planning’ for many NGOs is that it produces a menu of possible programme options which all appear to be ‘do-able’ and, indeed, fundable. However, an increasing number of progressive NGOs are concluding that one of the key skills to be developed within strategic planning is focused on a sharpened ability to say ‘no’. This is deeply counterintuitive to many NGOs who feel that ‘development’ should focus on an all-inclusive approach to problem identification and that ‘all options should remain on the table’. In the case of Gede, we have been working hard on ensuring that our work in (at the current time) researching the links between mental health and HIV-AIDS is well focused and results in the famous three Is of development – Impact (alleviating the negative impact of mental health on people living with HIV-AIDS), Innovation (doing so in a way which adds value to the body of existing approaches) and Influence (raises the awareness of major issues within key stakeholders and decision makers vis-à-vis the evolution of appropriate policies). Within this, we have been careful to clearly identify a ‘sunset clause’, essentially a set of indicators which indicate when our work is ‘done’ – more of which in the next blog tomorrow