Friday, August 7, 2009

Transition Step: Functional – The Puzzle

Transition Step: Functional – The Puzzle: A Conceptual Vision with Practical Implications

Now we are going to move from the conceptual/theoretical realm to more practical. This section provides a segue to thefunctional aspects of the RRES, but also ties back to our systems thinking approach, or context. It should be apparent that
any community project done within “context” will have numerous activities which need to be organized and coordinated. Many of these “pieces of the puzzle” have very different characteristics and functions. So the operational activities (goals, objectives, tasks) can be very different.

In order to help us get our mind “wrapped around” all of these pieces it has been useful for us to use the image of a puzzle to help us comprehend and organize our efforts. The puzzle put back together
metaphorically represents the “vision” or the overall picture that we want to achieve. The pieces of the puzzle represent the various components of the strategy.

Diagram 8 depicts this tool. It is important that the “tools” that we use for our systems approach not distract or confuse us. Using a puzzle image provides a simple, yet effective way to visualize context and, to an extent, relationships.

Diagram 8: The puzzle – a functional diagram for understanding context.

Diagram 8 shows a preliminary set of functional components of a “generic” Regional Community Empowerment Strategy (RRES). Each piece of the puzzle is critical to manifest the vision (the puzzle picture). It is necessary to identify the separate pieces because the functional aspects of any project will be different. Each puzzle piece has its own set of steps in order to accomplish that function. Additionally, a different set of individuals will likely be responsible for different pieces of the puzzle, however, all of the pieces need to be developed in a coordinated fashion.

This diagram is only a conceptual model since each project will have its own set of functional components (puzzle pieces) based on the organizational and regional context. However, since the Solomon Source approach has evolved from real, or existing projects (e.g. wireless internet portals, community and regional projects, etc.), there is a high likelihood that several of these components (pieces of the puzzle) can be used in any RRES.

The “Important Issues” outline in the bottom left corner of Diagram 8 has been derived from several years of research and experience, especially as it relates to team building and keeping harmony within an organization. These are issues that we consider critical for the success for a RRES. It is our opinion that managing people inside of organizations and initiatives are one of the biggest challenges, and proper guidance and policy development provide a solid foundation for success. Thus, this short, but highly critical list identifies how potential pitfalls can be avoided. Things like “vision”, “communications”, “organizational roles and responsibilities” must be seen as paramount for creating a harmonious and successful initiative. The following section of the RRES goes into the specific organizational and functional parts of the Solomon Source RRES.

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