We previously asked: What is your organization’s true objective and how do you measure it?
One of the comments laid out a few different ideas. We’ve presented some of them here in hopes that it can further the discussion on having more clarity in regards to the outcomes of what we do within our organizations. As you read through them, pay careful attention to the focus involved in executing these programs as well as the patience required to sustain that commitment over time. The input from the comment is bullet pointed with additional comments after.
Example Educational Program
“For every Muslim in the neighborhood to receive a strong and relevant Islamic education within a decade.”
- Must be aimed toward every Muslim, regardless of age, race, language, gender, prior education level…
- Project must be local, aimed at the neighborhood, so it covers a finite and estimable number of people. Thus progress can be easily measured over time.
- The Islamic education needs to be strong enough to be worthwhile; i.e. it will cover all the usual subjects like aqeedah, fiqh, tafsir, hadith, seerah, usul… And it does not cover the so-called secular sciences, because people take care of those on their own.
- It needs to be relevant, so no theoretical or philosophical hairsplitting, but focused on contemporary problems. So there will be discussion of tabloid issues in addition to “modern” questions that come up in the news, contemporary fiqh, etc.
- Take the JFK phrase “by the end of the decade” – 10 years is long enough to do a really powerful project inshaAllah, but short enough that a person can expect to start seeing the fruits of their effort.
- An unspoken but understood issue will be convincing people of the importance of receiving such an education. Not everyone feels that they need this, so the program will have to do marketing if they want every muslim to be served. The statement also doesn’t say anything about funding, hiring, madhabs, books, buildings, etc – those are all details to be decided later.
Notice how the focus and objective changes the workload. Many organizations will begin with the last bullet point – having a cool program, or making sure it is marketed properly. Those approaches fail because they do not address why the program is happening. Taking this approach to the education allows you to establish the goal and work backwards. This is far more successful than that “build it and they will come” strategy that is often employed. These projects often get sidetracked with fights over the issues laid out in the last bullet point. Starting with the focus enables people to stay on the same page and remember the greater goal they are working for.
Increase Youth Involvement:
“To have the majority of the board be people under the age of 35 within 5 years”
- It’s not just about having one or two seats for young people, or hiring a youth director, but about having majority control in their hands. So they really will have power and not just be gophers.
- Sets an age limit, whether valid or not, but clearly defines what youth will be.
- The clear understanding is that with majority control in the hands of people under 35, they will naturally move the organization towards youth involvement.
- The objective does not list how these people will be recruited or trained, nor does it discuss how to convince the existing board to hand off power to the new people. All of this will be determined through trial and error.
- Making such a statement clearly reinforces exactly where the organization is headed, and what it will look like once it’s there.
Setting a deadline is one of the most effective ways of moving a goal forward. The lack of a deadline is precisely why the ‘youth transition’ in many communities has been on hold for over 10 years. The other good thing about having an end goal like this is that it forces people to plan other items that should be done – for example a leadership succession plan. It also eliminates excuses. If the youth are not ready to take over, or they are not involved, then it forces the existing organization to go out and recruit them and make it happen – a process which otherwise may not happen.
Everything boils down to the same common sense principles: Set a measurable goal, put a deadline on it, and work to execute it. Amazing things can happen, it just takes some effort.