Give them a Why

 

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how” – Freidrich Nietzsche

Whilst a dramatic statement, its meaning is concerned with; if you have a purpose to life and it is important to you then overcoming obstacles and suffering to achieve will undoubtedly prove worthwhile.  It is could also suggest the means in many cases will justify the ends.

Those who have a firm understanding of why they are here will in the end always figure out a way of accomplishing their goals.

I cannot say I agree, the means will justify the ends, for me I think the WHY is also about the way in which you go about making your accomplishment come about. The WHY therefore is concerned with the end goal personal to you but also the effect you have and the impression you leave.  The WHY is personal and as creatures that want to be liked, loved and remembered it is important to keep this in mind when seeking to accomplish. Personal accomplishment in an accepted group, team, social environment therefore is the most positive of outcomes.

As a leader you are responsible for assigning tasks and duties to others and in the context of your organisation you must so then give your team and people a WHY to work toward and a belief that it can happen and that they will benefit accordingly.

Philip Dawson MBA

 

The Government Aid Business

Government Aid is a Business, the Government Aid Business is concerned with giving aid that meets national requirements for furtherment of national interests (or so you would think).

What it is NOT is charitable aid in the sense that you or I understand as giving people in need the money and resources they probably desperately need.

What it IS therefore is a way a government can say to its people is that it is giving to needy causes internationally. This is probably not true.

Here’s how I think it works in outline;

A nation, normally an African nation but it doesn’t have to be but they are mostly the victims in this sort of set-up, well this nation has an economy that needs help and bolstering. Now to set the context; most modern African nations are a result of European colonial ambitions about 150 – 200 years ago but after the second world war became ungovernable. However, by this point most European nations had largely taken what they wanted in raw materials from these countries and basically given nothing back save for installing a few local despots to run the place on behalf of the Europeans. There was a move toward self-government and the Europeans didn’t need the headache of doing a proper job of hand over so just gave these new nations (and installed despots) independence without any real effort at helping them adjust to their new reality.

The new nations as they found themselves had no educations system, no health care system, little in the way of legal system but a centralised government system based in the previous European overlords system and as it soon came to be Big-Man Politics (a system of dictatorship based on the betterment of a very small number of people at the expense of the many). So most new nations found themselves with a nation of uneducated and rural peoples, no recognisable industrial or logistical structures in place often times some level of civil strife or war. Basically during the 1950’s and 60’s the Europeans allowed independence to sweep through these new nations with nothing in the way of recognisable assistance in running the newly free countries.

So that’s the fertile ground on which was built the calamities to come; nations of uneducated tribal peoples, no recognisable support from the previous colonial powers and then to top it off an East/West Cold War which was acted out through regional conflicts. So yes you’ve probably worked it out, the civil wars in these new nations were supported by Cold War adversaries. The Cold War adversaries gave massive inter-governmental loans to the new nations who spent the money on armaments, that’s right, NOT food, NOT agriculture, NOT health care, NOT education but guns and rockets and then proceeded to go to war with each other.

So to summarise; a new nation heavily in debt, no way of paying it back, devastated by war, a needy populace with no idea of how to function in the contemporary world of the day. And mostly governed by dictators who treated their newly found nation as a means for personal gain. Most ordinary people’s lives became effectively worthless and inescapable.

And this is how the Government Aid Business works to the advantage of the nation giving the aid;

The needy nation has massive debts, it’s politically unstable, rogue elements use cross border terror tactics for very localised gain, there is no way of controlling health problems from crossing borders and the debt mountain built up over years is never going to be repaid. Not a pretty picture this is it?

So the rich nation, the one doing the giving decides that they want to look good and in some way gain favour with the needy nation. After all the needy nation probably still has some raw materials to be mined or bought on the cheap so the rich nation decides to give some aid.

But the aid given comes with strings, strings that are not easy to break. The aid given must be spent in such a way that targets set by the rich nation are met. How does this work in practice? Let us say a target is set for production of a certain kind of cash crop and the only way it can be met is to stop growing a food crop and replace with the cash crop. But, the land is not suitable so the aid money is spent on fertilisers to make the cash crop grow but also poison the land for use growing food crops in the future. Aid granted, cash crop grown, cash crop sold but now the needy nation has to import food by spending the money from the cash crop.

Genius, make the needy nation even more needy.

Aid actually makes the needy nation poorer!

Yes that’s right by giving aid rich governments (our governments) make poor countries even poorer.

  1. Rich nations encourage new (poor) nations to take on debt to finance war
  2. The debt is spent with rich countries who sell arms to the new nations; rich nations get richer
  3. The new (poor) nations now have debt interest payments to make; rich nations get richer
  4. Debt interest payments mean even less social investment; the poor nation gets poorer
  5. Rich nations give aid with strings attached; the poor nations get a short-term gain
  6. The short-term gain runs out and the poor nations abilities are reduced still further; the rich nations get richer

This is the Government Aid Business as it presently stands. It’s complicated further by the any number of NGO’s each with their own agenda but basically following the patterns set by government aid.

Now a few years ago there was the Drop the Debt movement and a lot of fine words were spoken by some very prominent politicians of the day. I may be wrong, but my feeling is that the debt is still there by and large. That actually government aid is being used to in part alleviate the interest payments, but the debt remains. So here in the UK we hear of 0.7% GDP being used for International Development.

My guess is that the development is along the lines of how the UK can profit further from these very needy nations with no thought for nation building and the need of the people therein.

I know this blog post is possibly going some way off business best practice and self-fulfilment but think this through. If we honestly want to practice best practice then we must extend this to all people from wherever they may come and whatever religion they may or may not observe, and without question whatever their skin colour, male or female. And the Government Aid Business is just one area that could be massively improved allowing for greater business opportunity for all.

The Government Aid Business is a dirty business and could be done so much better.

I propose an 8 point plan that;

  1. The debt is wiped completely, no debt, no debt interest, all gone
  2. That Government Aid is doubled, yes we can afford it
  3. That it is given directly to the applicant nation state governments to spend as they will, no strings attached
  4. That it is all monitored by the IMF, but not managed by them just reported on
  5. That technical help is offered but this help is not paid for from the aid given but is additional with in-country training part of the deal
  6. That investment is the key with an emphasis on education and health care (in the longer-term the rest will take care of itself)
  7. That key markets are stripped of trade barriers (coffee, bananas, tea, sugar…)
  8. That fair prices are paid to the producers and this is enshrined in contracts for supply and monitored by the IMF

I think this plan may in a couple of generations mean that the Government Aid Business is really only concerned with natural disasters.

Thanks as always for reading this post. If you have any comments positive or negative, I’ll be happy to respond.

Philip

The Charity Business

It’s that time of year, that time when the charity business is in full flight, TV Ads, Press Ads, bucket shakers outside your favourite shop. The leadership these organisations offer is questionable, the value they provide transient at best but the business strategy if plain for all, make as much money from peoples guilt as possible.

The ads; watch them, they all seek to personalise the call to action (the process of getting you to give generously) so that some impoverished individual, normally a child but not always pulls at your heart strings and you open your wallet or more accurately now that you send a text message and they get the money. You feel better, you’ve helped some poor sole and all for the cost an inconvenience of a test message. The world has been saved at the push of a smart-phone button.

If only this were the case.

Is charity effective? Does charity business actually work?

The answer depends on how you see charity and what you think it’s for, who you think it’s for I guess. For me charity is part of who I am, I give to charity, not many but consistently via direct debit. I don’t have to think too much, the money just goes to where and who I want it to go to. I suppose it’s a bit lazy, pick a cause, one I find it impossible to give time and effort to and sign up for the direct debit. Like many, job done at the click of few buttons.

The charity business however, is a business. It sells salvation and a clear conscience to those willing to buy (give). The strategy is a simple one, get in front of people and show them something awful then tell them things can be changed with a little of their help and money.

But this is too simplistic a view of charity, it’s the one that I guess we all identify with and is not realistically how charity and aid is really given. There are so far as I can tell 3 main types of charity and aid systems in play, each with a specific way of delivering the aid and possibly each on a different scale.

So here they are;

The personal type; this is the charity where you give to a local cause, say the local sports club for children run by the parents for the children with no other reason than they want their children to enjoy competitive sport. The other local type tends to be a hospice that sometimes a relative or close friend has been treated by. Both you have very personal contact with and maintain often for years after the event or reason you first got involved. These types of charities also often benefit from personal involvement in the provision of the service they offer.

This personal type of giving is motivated by personal experience normally. It’s effective in that funds go directly to the people and organisation you want them to go to. What you don’t have is any say on how they are spent or if they are used effectively. You just hand over the cash and feel good that you’re supporting a local cause, job done.

There is nothing at all wrong with this type of giving and the conversion of cash into good acts I suspect is very effective indeed. I know this because MGL once run a sports club my daughter was involved in. The experience taught me that the people involved were totally committed to the cause and to stay out of the way!

The NGO (non-governmental organisation); these are charities (businesses) that pester you with advertising. These are the professional charities and can be a real pain. You know the type… £3.00 per month fixes just about anything you can name; but it doesn’t cos if it was that simple it would have been done a long time ago. No, what they mean is that your £3.00 buys a sticking plaster (Band-Aid for you Americans). The problem is fixed for now, till the next disaster or calamity comes along.

These are professional charities, often called NGO’s, normally operating on an international basis with paid employees. They also have an agenda they want to push (religiously based, environmental, animal welfare…) and this comes at a cost. The other thing about them is that they will often (nearly always) insist at the recipient nation accepting the aid (and it will be significant aid) will have to use the aid to purchase their services or expertise.

In the short-term when you are faced with a calamity of national proportions and no local talent then yes I can see why this might be best. But honestly, does is always have to be this way? Of course not, the charities could use some of your money that you so willingly gave them to train and teach local people to deal with and PREVENT further calamities happening. But this will mean the charity is potentially no longer relevant so they don’t do this.

I’m reminded of the phrase give a man fish and he will be able to feed his family for a day. Give a man the ability to catch the fish and he will be able to feed his family for ever. Well, the charity business is in the business of selling fish NOT fishing rods.

State Aid; the third and potentially most effective kind of charity is that of national governments to other nation states. Here in the UK we give 0.7% of GDP to other nations. It’s all a bit shady to the regular populace, they haven’t a clue where the money goes or how it might be spent or the reasons behind why it’s even given in the first place. What I can say is that countries such as India and China still get aid from the UK even though there economies seem to be huge to the average man in the street.

But let’s put this into context; the UK is one of the ten richest countries on the planet out of just over 200 countries in total. So it’s safe to say that the UK is richer than over 95% of all other nation states.

I think what might be getting missed is the levels of individual poverty in these countries and mixed with the feeling of selfishness generated by our westernised lifestyles leads to open calls for this aid to be ‘spent at home’ because ‘charity begins at home’ or some other such nonsense.

My point though is the bigger one and not dissimilar to the NGO problem. Governments want the money given spent on expertise and stuff they provide. Not on long-term help with in the nation for the nation.

The other really big problem here is that the aid given often (practically always) is dwarfed by national debt repayments, or more accurately the interest on national debts, cos let’s not kid ourselves that poor countries are actually ever going to be in a position to pay back the initial debt. All they can hope to do is pay the interest and they don’t often do this.

To be honest the single most charitable thing a country could do for another in need of charitable aid would be to cancel the debt (I know it was supposed to have happened, but it didn’t) and then give the charitable aid all the same and let the government of the nation needing help decide when and how to spend the money. Corruption! I can almost hear the call now but how about trust. I’m sure some of the money will be ‘lost’ making the wheels go round but believe me they will do a way better job at running their country than our government will by melding, and that goes for the NGO’s as well.

The thing is that by doing this we will be giving those in need the fishing rods they need. All we have to do then is teach them how to use them best. Now that to me seems a way better way of giving to the needy. But of course that potentially puts the charity business out of business.

For me, if there is a reduced need for charity, there will always be those who need acute help, the reduced on-going need however can only be a good thing to happen.

As always thanks for taking the time to read.

Philip