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Challenges across sectors

Dec 26,2019 - Last updated at Dec 26,2019

The more you read and the more you talk to people in our society about major challenges facing them in their line of work, the more convinced you become that they are more or less the same challenges.

Such challenges cannot all be addressed here, but here are the four fundamental ones: the “killers”, one might say.

The first is financial. Most of our institutions suffer from a shortage of funds. While such a challenge is more pressing and acute than in others, it represents a real handicap in most of them.

The root cause is the economic crisis we have been experiencing for some time, due to negative political, trade and social circumstances and factors affecting us, both internal and external.

Once upon a time, we also used to receive a lot of aid, regional and global. Presently, we are receiving less.

And we have largely failed at coming up with income-generating ideas and projects, either within or across the institutions.

To cope, most institutions end up resorting to severe cuts in spending, many of which badly affect performance.

In many of the older ones, basic infrastructure is hard hit and becomes extremely deficient.

The second fundamental challenge is managerial. While some of our institutions are blessed with able managers, both at the top of the institutions and at mid- and low-level management, most are not.

A lot of those appointed to lead institutions or divisions in them, especially in our public sector, lack vision and lack adequate experience.

Some are, in fact, “parachuted” into the institution with hardly any leadership or managerial skills.

As a result, whatever financial resources available are badly mismanaged and wasted, and whatever system of administration exists is radically disrupted and eventually subverted.

What adds insult to injury is that many of them come with a lot of authority and power, and none consults, listens or believes in teamwork.

Most rely on their “genius” in taking crucial decisions, which end up with disastrous outcomes.

The third fundamental challenge is quality. While we do have institutions, even in the public sector, that do produce quality products and offer quality services, ones that compare and compete with the best in the world, these are the exception not the rule.

Some produce and perform very poorly, but most are mediocre at best.

Finesse, refinement, subtlety, attention to detail or the icing on the cake is almost always missing.

The quality of our institutions best resembles to that of our roads. While some, especially in the more privileged areas, are solid and even beautiful, most are shabby.

The fourth challenge is sustainability. Whenever we set up an institution, we introduce it as a breakthrough and a success story. And we endow it with a lot of attention and pin high hopes on it.

Initially, it performs well, even impressively.

As time goes by the euphoria and the glory abate, and all becomes business as usual.

With more time, performance deteriorates, and the institution becomes a mere shadow of its past self, deriving whatever force or pride left in it from reminiscing on the “good, old days”, just as our overall culture does at present: reveling in the glory of our forefathers.

Unless we address these four challenges diligently, responsibly and efficiently, and through creative and smart solutions, our institutions will continue to falter and fail us, and we will continue to run in circles, never moving forward an inch.

Are we capable of doing this, of turning things around?

Yes; big yes, if we pull our act together, put an end to nepotism and appeasement, select the best among us to lead, have faith in ourselves, and rely less on others.

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