Gene has a great set of lessons that he’s learned in the process of “building a program for today, but an organization for the long term.” I think they’re worth repeating:
- Do one thing well - beware mission creep.
- Don’t say yes unless you mean it - don’t morph what you do just to try to meet funder requests.
- Magical thinking isn’t a strategy - we may all want something to be different, but we need to work with what we have.
- Pay people fairly for what they do - mothers2mothers pays their local community mentor mothers, whom they train intensively on the preventive medical practices and coaching techniques needed to make the program successful. (Sadly, this concept is not widely embraced among providers of public health assistance in Africa, many of whom still insist on volunteer community health workers.)
- “Development” and “Advancement” are euphemisms for sales, marketing and investor relations - call things what they are. There’s nothing wrong with this.
- Technology won’t solve everything - mothers2mothers isn’t about the medicine, it’s about behaviors and practices.
- Neither will process - it’s not about outputs, it’s about impact.
- Neither cash nor caring are scalable commodities - you need to constantly replenish these.
- Overhead is not evil - the best ideas, without an effective organization to deploy them, won’t succeed.