In Series 3.2, we learned about developing a strategy to implement your project in the field. We discovered the strategy consists of three main components:

  • The mission statement
  • The vision (or goals)
  • And the practical approach strategy

 

The mission statement is present-oriented, describing your current actions. It incorporates social ideals known as values which guide the entire project or organization.

 

The vision (or goals) is future-oriented and long term. It stipulates what you desire to achieve over a period of time. We discovered the vision anchors on SMART strategic objectives which render it flexible should the entrepreneur desire a change of strategy along the way.

 

Finally, we introduced the practical approach strategy which deals with organizing resources and selecting an effective implementation approach to achieve your strategic objectives and vision.

 

In this series, we’ll get into the nitty-gritty of the practical approach strategy: we’ll discover how you identify, prepare resources and choose an implementation approach prior to implementing your project.

 

Practical Approach Strategy

 

The practical approach as we’ve seen deals with resources analysis and field realities. There’re four main things to consider:

 

  • Internal stakeholders
  • External stakeholders
  • Resources analysis
  • The most feasible implementation approach

 

Internal And External Stakeholders

 

Stakeholders are people or entities that influence decision-making or aspects of the project. A stakeholder’s influence can either be positive or negative depending on their interests.

 

Most social projects have two types of stakeholders: internal and external. Internal stakeholders are those within the organization while external stakeholders are outside the organization. These must be carefully analysed and engaged for a project to be implemented successfully.

 

For our tree planting project in Cameroon, we have the following internal and external stakeholders:

 

Internal: Village workers, Treff-end members, the village chief and council members

 

External: Local NGOs (Wewuley Consultancy, Master Planner Foundation, Green Peace), government representatives, neighbouring villagers, the local radio station, local newspapers and donors.

 

To successfully implement your project, you must identify all internal and external stakeholders, their roles, level of importance and level of influence. When this is done, the entrepreneur develops a Stakeholder Engagement Plan to ensure all actions of the identified stakeholders favour the implementation of the project.

 

Treff-End’s Sample Stakeholder Analysis and Engagement Plan are made available to its partners in the field.

 

Resource Analysis

 

Resources are the items you need to accomplish your objectives (to implement the project in the field). You either own or acquire resources. The main resources to identify include:

 

Physical (Tangible): transport equipment, office equipment, working equipment, training equipment, etc.

Intangible: skills, knowledge, capacities, strengths, etc.

Financial: The finances you need (where it will come from and what it will be used for).

Human: Who will do what, how and when.

Organizational: Logistics, administrative, bills (fuel, electricity, phone, internet, emails, etc.), events, unforeseen, contingencies, etc.

 

By going through the Reveal and Design steps, it’s possible to identify most of the resources you need to implement your project (especially by observing the Work Breakdown Structure and Task List).

 

 Treff-End’s Sample Resource Analysis is made available to its partners in the field.

 

The Most Feasible Implementation Approach

 

The implementation approach is a philosophy stakeholders take to the field during implementation. Treff-End encourages social entrepreneurs to choose among the following three:

 

  • Low-Cost Approach: Flat hierarchy with main focus – to decide (as a group) the most cost-effective way of implementing the project without compromising quality and overall strategic objectives.

 

  • Advantages: implementation at a reduced cost, people manage themselves (in a flat hierarchy association), people feel their input is valuable, can learn and adapt to new skills.

 

  • Disadvantages: some may carry most of the burden, people may not feel responsible in cases of failure, progress may be compromised by a lack of properly defined responsibilities.

 

  • Monitoring & Evaluation Approach: Fairley flat hierarchy with few leaders who ensure resources are well utilized.

 

  • Advantages: work is taken seriously, responsibilities are well defined, people know their boundaries, people’s ideas are still relatively considered.

 

  • Disadvantages: may incur more costs, leaders must purchase some skilled-workers, leaders must be trained, employees may feel devalued.

 

  • Standardized Approach: Consists of an improved standard. This may mean purchasing the services of additional stakeholders such as standard software, machinery, industrial plants, etc.

 

  • Advantages: good for huge projects with complex processes and huge profit margins, targets are usually met, workers are usually specialists or professionals.

 

  • Disadvantages: high costs, complex processes, may not be feasible in most interior contexts, lack of infrastructure and skilled labour.

 

Conclusion

 

You need a practical approach strategy to implement your project. The approach depends on a careful analysis of internal and external stakeholders, material and immaterial resources, as well as, the most feasible implementation approach. With these, you must have put all in place to reduce risks of failure.

 

In Series 3.4, we’ll see how the entrepreneur actually implements the project in the field.

 

Please share this info with friends and entrepreneurs in your community

In Stage 3.1, we learned it’s necessary to prepare the field with prayer and fasting prior to implementing your project. We discovered three main prayer points to consider when trying to implement a Social Project.

 

Today, we’ll learn, in part, how to develop an implementation strategy for your project.

 

Implementation Strategy

 

What’s a strategy? It’s an action plan you design to achieve long-term objectives. It’s all about organizing or re-organizing resources in order to achieve your defined vision and strategic objectives in a sustainable manner.

 

With this simple definition in mind, you must clarify three things to enable you generate an effective implementation strategy:

 

  1. Your mission statement as an entity
  2. Your vision / goal(s)
  3. Your practical approach (Involves looking inside and outside your organization)

 

The first deals with your identity, the second with the overall orientation of your resources and the third deals with adjusting resources in the field.

 

Your Mission Statement

 

You can’t achieve much without knowing who you are. You also can’t make effective progress without a global understanding of your current situation. All these aspects are incorporated in your mission statement.

 

Your Mission Statement is, therefore, a statement of your identity and actions – it’s current – present-oriented. For instance, Treff-End’s mission statement two years ago was ‘‘Inspiring & Empowering The People’’. Back then, we were focused on helping those in interior communities identify their potentials. In recent times, we’ve made progress by helping people utilize their capacities. Our new Mission Statement is ‘‘Generating Innovative Ideas’’.

 

To define an effective mission statement, you must recognize the values which guide you. Values are social ideals and qualities which guide your actions. E.g. honesty, commitment, faith, accountability, etc. The Following values guide Treff-End’s actions – they’re all reflected in our current mission statement:

 

  • Authenticity
  • Accountability
  • Humility & Respect
  • Patience & Endurance

 

Your Vision / Goals

 

You can’t plan effectively against the future without a sufficient understanding of where you’re coming from – and where you’re at the moment. Your Vision, therefore, relies on the Mission Statement and findings to set targets for the future. Vision is what you plan to achieve in the long-term. Your vision is future-oriented and may require a significant amount of time to achieve – e.g. 5, 10, 15, 20-years.

 

To define an effective vision, you must make use of Strategic Objectives. Your Strategic Objectives must be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Bound). E.g. Treff-End has a yearly strategic objective to plant 2,500 Cedrela trees in Woteva Village to accomplish a vision of 12,500 trees by the end of 2022.

 

Contrary to the vision, strategic objectives are short-time-bound – 1 to 5-years. Visions usually require a change of strategy along the way to be accomplished. Strategic objectives are useful in ensuring an effective change of strategy without disrupting the entire goal.

 

Your Practical Approach

 

You’ve clearly defined your mission statement and vision. But wait a minute – your implementation strategy isn’t complete. There’s an important piece left to clearly defined – the practical approach strategy – how well you’ll manage your resources to accomplish your strategic objectives and vision.

 

To determine this practical approach strategy, two things are necessary:

 

  • Identify all your internal and external stakeholders
  • Identify all your resources

 

In Stage 3.3, we’ll get into the nitty-gritty of how you determine an effective practical approach strategy to implement your project in the field.

 

Stay Tuned!

 

Don’t forget to share this info with friends and entrepreneurs in your community

In Series 1, we acquired skills to generate a project or idea from scratch in a step known as Reveal. The entrepreneur begins with fasting/prayers and asks God for wisdom. This first stage prepares the Entrepreneur to receive a God-revealed idea or project. In stage 2, the entrepreneur analyses the root-causes of troubles. He or she listens and records project ideas which address those root causes in stage 3. In stage 4, the entrepreneur prioritizes the generated project ideas and later applies the TCLR-Test in stage 5 to ensure projects align with God’s will. At the end of this process, the entrepreneur generates a project or idea which is feasible, cost-effective and realizable in its context.

 

Series 2 dealt with how we transform the generated idea or project into organized axiomatic tasks in a step known as Design. The design begins with prayers/Fasting to determine the most feasible implementation patterns. Stage 2 utilizes Project Management techniques to determine the main tasks, schedule, budget and risks involved. In stage 3, the entrepreneur develops a prototype and sends it for testing in the field. He or she collects all feedback and incorporate them into the final design in stage 4. In the end, the project or idea is robust, suits the needs of its customers and ready to be implemented in the field.

 

In Series 3, we’ll deal with how the entrepreneur actually realizes the idea in the field in the third step known as Implement.

 

You’ve taken time to obtain a revelation from God and received wisdom from Him to design this idea and prepare it for implementation in the field. You’ve worked hard and developed a prototype. Your customers have tested the product and expressed their feelings about it. You’ve considered their feedback and designed a final product with matches their needs. It’s time to take the idea into the community and change lives.

 

But pause a minute. Implementation begins by approaching God in prayer/fasting in Stage 1. There’re four main prayer points you should consider before taking your project into the field:

 

Insufficiencies

 

No matter how well you design your project, it can’t be perfect. There’re always improvements to make. It can always get better. The entrepreneur, therefore, begins the implementation with a learning mindset. Hence, the first prayer point is wisdom to discover all insufficiencies and appropriate mechanisms to fill the gaps.

 

Arising Challenges

 

You can’t determine with accuracy what’s waiting for you in the field. You primarily implement a project by faith. Your project can be affected by additional internal and external factors you didn’t consider. For instance, new stakeholders may arise. Accidents or illnesses can occur which might require significant adjustments. And, of course, fierce resistance from the enemies of progress – Satan and his agents. Your second prayer point deals with how to address these unprecedented challenges.

 

Growth & Expansion

 

Every God-given idea needs to grow. But growth requires strategy. And the strategy is effective when you understand field realities. Your third prayer point is to identify and carefully make use of expansion and growth opportunities and possibilities. Who knows? You might require additional partnerships or alliances with people or organizations with similar interests.

 

Benefit-Sharing

 

A social entrepreneur primarily works for people in a particular community. The benefits of the project(s) or idea must be shared fairly among all stakeholders concerned. Fair benefit-sharing encourages unity and progress. Where selfishness, materialism and greediness are involved, it gives room to exploitation. Your fourth and last prayer point is wisdom to establish a fair benefit-sharing mechanism together with stakeholders of the community.

 

In Stage 2, we’ll deal with how you develop an Implementation Strategy.

 

Please Share This Info With Entrepreneurs In Your Community

In Stage 3, we discovered it’s necessary to develop a Prototype prior to implementing your project in the field. We learned the Prototype helps you to make your project known, collect vital feedback from its potential beneficiaries, experts and other stakeholders which will help you improve your Project Design and Strategy to achieve a bigger impact.

 

In Stage 4, we’ll discover how you analyse the Feedback generated from presenting your prototype and incorporate them into your project to develop the final product to implement in the field in a process known as Learn.

 

In the food industry, an important stage to understand whether a new product will have an impact on the market is to develop a Test Product (Prototype) and allow potential consumers to taste it and provide feedback. The feedback is analysed to determine whether the product should be released or modified before introduced to the market.

 

Feedback has four main roles:

 

  • It helps you understand the quality and value of your product.
  • It helps you discover ways to improve your product you might not have thought of before.
  • Feedback helps you determine if your product is accepted by consumers or beneficiaries.
  • Facilitate research and help you to generate a robust project or product at the end.

 

You can analyse the feedback in many ways:

 

  • Your team of experts can discuss them in a brainstorming meeting.
  • You generate charts, graphs, statistics or pictures which provide specific information on aspects of your project or product.
  • You can invite an expert to help you collect and analyse them with your team.
  • In some social projects, it may involve analysing them with leaders in the community.

 

During the feedback analysis process:

 

  • You take every important point raised by beneficiaries or consumers into consideration.
  • You take one point at a time and carefully consider its impact in relation to others.
  • At the same time, you seek ways to incorporate those concerns into the project design process.

 

For our teaching and learning processes improvement in the LifeWayLight Schools in Tanzania, we analyzed the feedback with the teachers.

 

Feedback Analysis – LifeWayLight Schools

 

At the end of this analysis, you develop and generate a robust project or product you are sure will have an impact on society.

 

After the field visit to the demonstration farms, we collected feedback using forms on ways the villagers thought could improve the Cedrela tree planting project. Among the concerns raised were the following:

 

Feedback Collection Process WCTPP

 

  • Tree distances should be at least 5 to 10 metres in a monoculture planting system.
  • Due to parasite attacks and local farming reasons, it’s best to adopt an agroforestry planting system.
  • Seedlings should be made available and the tree planting should be done in an association with a vision to better manage its implementation and fairly share its benefits.

 

We have gladly taken these feedback into consideration as we implement the project in the field and believe the Cedrela farming project will significantly change the living standards of the villagers in the coming years.

 

Watch Video

 

Next month, we’ll begin with Series 3 – the Implementation of your project in the field and what you need to consider.

 

Share this information with entrepreneurs in your community

 

Stay tuned!

In Stage 2, we learned the Faith Entrepreneur can confidently apply Basic Project Management (PM) Techniques to design Social Projects. We further introduced the basic PM tools every Social Entrepreneur should know.

 

Once you’ve carefully organized the stages of your project or idea with PM tools, the next stage of the Design phase is to develop a Prototype.

 

A Prototype ‘‘is a rough model or presentation of a project idea; it is not yet a finished product, but it contains enough information to attract or convince other stakeholders about an idea and helps in evaluating one’s inventions’’ (Houde & Hill, 1997). Prototypes are tangible representations of your idea (MASHLM, 2017).

 

Prototypes depend on the kind of project – meaning there’re different types of Prototype. They can be simple sketches, diagrams, stories, pictures, representations, videos, demonstration project or complex structures such as machines, software, hardware, equipment, etc.

 

For our Cedrela Tree Planting Project in Cameroon, our prototype was a demonstration farm. We planted hundreds of Cedrela trees on a piece of land. Below is a picture of the prototype:

 

Cedrela Project – Demonstration farm in Woteva Village, Pic taken by Samuel, 2019

 

The main reason for developing a Prototype is to learn and ameliorate your project design in order to generate a robust project or product in the end. After developing the prototype, the Faith Entrepreneur collects Feedback and observes lapses especially from the main beneficiaries of the idea and incorporate them into the final design process prior to implementation in the field. 

 

After a field visit to the demonstration farms, the local inhabitants provided feedback on appropriate ways the project should be implemented in the area.

 

Prototyping is conducted in many ways including but not limited to:-

 

  • Organizing workshops where the main experts brainstorm to develop the product.
  • Ideation – the initiators of the projects propose different designs. These will be evaluated and the most effective and efficient approaches chosen.
  • Brainstorming meetings – project initiators meet and decide the type of prototype which fits the project and the design pattern.

 

For our Social Innovation Workshops in Cameroon, we adopted the following steps to design prototypes to the project ideas which were generated by participants during the workshops:

 

  • We Created groups of five to ten people.
  • Each group worked on a single project or idea.
  • Group participants provided inputs on how the prototype for their project should be developed.
  • The most effective inputs were selected based on three main criteria (feasibility, cost-effectiveness and impact).
  • The groups developed their prototypes and presented their ideas.
  • Those ideas and design patterns were examined further by the other groups.
  • Participants collected feedback and considered them to develop the final project or idea to implement in the field.

 

Below are examples of two groups and their prototypes:

 

Group 1

Social Innovation Workshops, Woteva Cameroon – Prototyping – Water Catchment Project, 2017

 

Group 2

Social Innovation Workshops, Woteva Cameroon – Prototyping – Corn Transformation, 2017

 

Click here to watch videos on our Treff-End Youtube channel

 

Conclusion 

 

In Social Projects, a Prototype is necessary after the preliminary design of your project or idea. Its main role is to help you learn more about how you can further design your project idea to arrive at a final robust product. It’s important to note there’re many ways to develop a prototype and design one which best fits your idea.

 

In the next Stage, we’ll discover how we present our prototype and make use of the feedback we generate from interested stakeholders.

 

Please share this information with Social Entrepreneurs in your community

In Stage 1, we learned it’s important to approach God in Prayers and Fasting to receive proper guidance on the design process. We also discovered the Faith Entrepreneur can confidently adopt Project Management (PM) techniques to design Social Projects to obtain good results and high impact.

 

In stage 2, we’ll discover the basic PM Tools every Faith Entrepreneur engaged in Social Projects should know. These include;

 

1. The Task List & Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

 

At this stage, you know the project you want to implement and have prayed for divine guidance. The Task List of your project contains all its tasks in an organized manner. It typically consists of the name of the task, its ID, predecessor task and durations. Below is the task list of our tree planting project (WCTPP) in Woteva Village;

 

 

But it’s important to note the Faith Entrepreneur may not identify all tasks from the onset especially if the project is complex. That’s why we plan projects with some degree of flexibility. The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) shows the tasks in a Tree-Decomposition structure. Below is the WBS of the WCTPP.

 

 

Another great tool to show the decomposition of your tasks involved in the whole project is the Gantt Chart. It’s a much more complete tool showing the tasks, predecessors, start and finish times as well as a picture of the general project progress. The picture below shows the Gantt Chart of the WCTPP.

 

 

2. Critical Path Method (CPM) & Project Evaluation And Review Technique (PERT)

 

These are more advanced techniques which analyse Uncertainties associated with the tasks of the project. With the PERT, it’s possible to estimate the Optimistic Time, Most Likely task duration and Pessimistic Time. It also involves calculating Variances, Probabilistic Times and Slacks. The CPM gives the Faith Entrepreneur an idea of the minimum time required to implement the whole project in an Efficient manner. For the sake of simplicity, Treff-End doesn’t encourage the use of these sophisticated methods in social projects, especially when developing social innovations in remote communities. A Gantt Chart is enough to have a structured overview of a community project. However, below is an example showing  the PERT and CP of the WCTPP;

 

 

3. Project Budget

 

Projects are implemented with financial and material resources. Budgeting involves generating Realistic Estimates of the Costs of each task on the WBS. It requires a careful analysis of Human and Material Resources required to implement the project and how to obtain them. It also involves analysing Risks and Contingency Reserves. In Social Projects, we can limit Budgeting to realistic estimates of resources required to implement all the tasks of the project. But it’s also important to analyse where to obtain finances and how to implement the project with limited resources. This might require a Stakeholder and Resource-Based Analysis. Below is an example of the Budget for the WCTPP.

 

 

4. Risk Management

 

A vital skill in life is how to access and manage risks. We all make minor or big decisions in life based on the risks associated with what we want to accomplish. Risks aren’t absent in Social Projects. Moreover, each project has its context and associated risks. The Risk Analysis tool in the PM technique helps you identify the most important Risks, analyse their Probability, assess their Impact and generate effective Mitigation plans. Below are examples of risk types, probability and impact estimates from which we generated mitigation plans for the WCTPP.

 

 

 

 

 

5. Organizational Structure (OBS)

 

To successfully implement a project, the main Stakeholders must be Delegated with Well-Defined Responsibilities and Resources they need to accomplish their work. Here comes the importance of an OBS showing who occupies what position and does what. Although an OBS typically shows the person’s position, his or her tasks are well-defined in the Job Description. Below is the OBS of the WCTPP;

 

 

As a conclusion, PM Techniques are very effective when rightly used. Depending on your context, these basic tools help you generate well-structured design patterns to implement your idea or project. Treff-End is currently developing the God-Centered Design and Innovation Tool to assist Faith Entrepreneurs in the field especially in remote communities.

 

In the next stage of Series 2, we will discover how to come up with a Prototype of your Project or Idea.

 

Please, share the information with Faith Entrepreneurs in your community

 

Stay tuned!