Few days back we had an e-learning session!! It was very exciting and completely a new experience for me. Program staff like Rudaba Apa from PACE along with her colleague Wahid bhai joined the Social Innovation Lab team for the session.
The topic for the e-learning session was also an interesting one – it discussed the strength and control that the system of an organization has which we forget very often.
Before sharing my learning I would like to talk about the logistics and set-up. We had a conversation on Skype in 20th floor conference room, the software, I am sure most of us are familiar with. One of the best things about skype is that it allows you to have conversations, voice or with video too, for free with other people around the world! With just a laptop (with a webcam), internet connection, Skype and speakers, we were able to make this distant learning possible. I am sure whoever is reading this material have very much access to these applications and can go for a e-learning right now only if s/he wishes to. It is a fun and really powerful—in this case, we had a person in California leading us in an interactive game that required moving around!
Now, what was our first e-learning? ‘Improvement science’ and ‘system thinking’, these two where the key words for our session. Explaining that, before going for the session we from Social Innovation Lab came up with a question – What is BRAC’s “system” and how can we embed mechanisms for continuous improvement in it? Searching the answer for this question, we arranged a session with an improvement science expert, Brandon Bennett.
Brandon pointed out to us that although we are always in an organization, we often forget the existence of it! The organization itself has its own entity, its own purpose and way of progressing, which is actually described as the organizational “system.” And as members, we need to relate to that system. The session definitely made us aware of that, to think not just about individuals but also how they interact with the system. Brandon described scientific methods to managing and understanding how things work within an organization. Even within the system for a particular organization, there are different ways of thinking about it. Describing those system were really helpful and that helped the participants to think what kind of system we have in at BRAC currently. So, nice brainstorming took place through the e-learning session as well.
Systems continue to mature and change as an organization scales and its staff learn and do- from this perspective, internal communication is really important. If we do not have the environment to share and learn and communicate, the system itself may hold the organization back. So creating an open environment plays a very important role here.
A common phrase to sum up how systems affect behavior and outcomes is, “all systems are perfectly designed to achieve exactly the results they get .” BRAC may have deliberately built the system initially but at 40 years and 10 countries, we may to think about whether we are still building it or following it. This session generated a lot of thinking in its participants, and we hope to continue to learn and explore the concept of how BRAC’s system can better encourage innovation.