Cooperatives conduct several activities like General Assembly Meeting, Membership/ Ownership Meeting, Summits, Seminars, Cooperative Month Celebration, Convention, Congress, etc. Series of meetings to prepare for such events include discussions on the date, venue, number of participants, program of activities and resource persons, secretariat, budget and some identified responsible persons. These social preparations form part of the planning that determines the expected output of the activity.
In the implementation of the planned interventions held at the local and national levels that involve more than 100 people indicate some thought provoking observations like long queue during registration period; when meals and snacks are served and shortages on kits, served meals and snacks; and issues on accommodations happen even for those activities that had been thoroughly planned. This brings us to reflect and ask ourselves, could this common observation be attributed to lapses in social preparation?
Allow me to share some insights given our involvement in some similar activities. Foremost, during the planning stage limited people are involved as representatives of certain groups that will take part in the activity. Often, representatives are tasked to disseminate the information to all concerned given the facts taken up during the planning stage. Responsible persons are identified to do specific functions like committees on program and invitation; hall preparation; food preparation; sound system, etc. including the formation of steering committee to oversee the flow of activities from the preparation to implementation. Also, rules and regulations governing the event are formulated that forms part of the instructions prior to registration of participants.
In the case of some national activities, non-confirmation would mean no kits, no reservation for lodging including meals and snacks. But sometimes, human considerations apply that organizers accept those without reservations. Other organizers prioritize those that have reservations while walk-in clients or those without reservations are requested to stay at a designated area for them to be attended.
In our region some organizers request for confirmation but only few responses are received on time. One of the possible reasons is the still unstable information communication technology infrastructure, poor state of our postal services and the level of knowledge of some cooperative officers and staff on technological advancement. Absence of signal and lack of knowledge on computer hardware and software, mobile apps and social media especially among micro and small cooperatives takes longer period to reply to send communication.
Situations tell us that some people do their functions seriously while others have so many reasons that they justify when expectations are not met. It is difficult for some people to admit shortcomings and is usually associated to attitudinal issues. It them reflects how cooperative officers and management staff project their plans and programs.
Moreover, another factor could be the observation on the tendency of some cooperative officers to centralize decision-making at the Board level even those belonging to managerial positions. This action affects cooperative operations especially on matters of business opportunities. Delimiting or reducing the function of manager and even the term or status of appointment may also have a bearing on the performance of managers to act on certain issues upon receipt of communication. I think that the longer the delay in action on pressing issues the concept of delegation of responsibility and authority wanes. Actions must always be proactive and real time information must answer queries or issues and concerns to ensure sustainability of planned interventions.
Finally, in the conduct of activities, the need for a well-crafted plans and programs is not enough. Involvement of all concerned from the planning, implementation and evaluation is critical. Organizers must continually aim for improvements toward quality and productivity. Hesitance to accept criticisms often blocks the flow of communication that obstructs effective feed mechanism. The need to institutionalize communication plan and the conduct of comprehensive evaluation may further help in coming up with relevant and helpful inputs that can guide organizers in the conduct of similar activities.
As a development worker, I stand to be corrected in case these observations are not realistic.