Monday, September 28, 2009

Project IEP, Part II

A few people have asked and we wanted to write a bit more about our project with IEP (Institut pour L'Education Populaire). We had the opportunity to spend time both with the team that’s launching IEP’s Read, Learn & Lead program in 200+ schools across Mali this fall and with Maria Diarra (IEP's Founder) to understand the issues IEP is currently facing with respect to scaling the organization. Based on our discussions we outlined the types of challenges faced and best practices implemented by organizations experiencing high growth, and grouped our recommendations for IEP into five areas: shared vision and values, organization structure, management style, processes and tools, and human resources.

A lot of the ideas were relatively straightforward, such as screening for vision/values alignment during the interview process to ensure IEP recruits the right types of people or thinking about distributed decision making to avoid bottlenecks at the top of the organization. Other information we presented was very tactical, particularly around process development for areas like budgeting and reporting. Though we didn't present any "new" concepts, there were many points that Maria and her team hadn’t necessarily thought about or had time to focus on because of how quickly the organization has expanded.

In the end, we left Maria with our recommendations and a roadmap for IEP. She seemed very happy with our work, and even said that if they can find the funds she’d love to have us come back and train her leadership team. Kruti and I really enjoyed our work with IEP but wish we had more time to dig deeper. We were a bit ambitious in what we had hoped to achieve in less than two weeks but I think we left Maria and Coumba with some good documents as a starting point for an ongoing dialogue. It's difficult to have substantial impact in such a short time span and so we hope this is just the beginning of our work together.

Maria, Coumba and us

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