Achieving Our Targets

by | Jun 26, 2020 | Change |

Fatima sits under the tree waiting her turn. It’s hot but she’s determined to get her name on the list. So she waits chatting happily to her fellow community members. Her mind is elsewhere though. She is worried about her crops in the field which need picking otherwise they too will be lost.

She calls out to Frank, the aid worker telling them who can go next. “When will it be our turn?” Frank looks over, visibly annoyed ‘When I tell you it’s your turn, it will be your turn.’

The sun sets and Fatima is still under the tree. Her turn didn’t come and she is told to come back tomorrow. She is angry, but holds it in as she fears an outburst will mean she does not get added to the list and her family needs the support.

Frank and his team review their numbers and are pleased with how many people they registered today. They hit their target so they can go home for the day.

When all we measure is numbers and quantities, we shape how our teams function. It creates a culture where certain types of achievements matter, while the ‘how’ we achieve them doesn’t. The numbers, the data, tells a story, but it is not the whole story.

And often when our prime performance metrics are hard numbers it tends to be focused on us and not the experience of those we seek to serve.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can choose a different path.

Photo by Chris Liverani

1 Comment

  1. Nikolai Segura


    It’s a very good observation – and I think it comes down to treating beneficiaries as customers – just as much as we treat donors as customers.

    That donor personas are so common, and beneficiary personas are not, can only be explained by a form of paternalism towards, and thus lack of full respect for the human dignity of, aid beneficiaries.

    I wonder how to measure customer satisfaction & experience in the field? Are there initiatives ongoing on this? Is there a “shining light” in this area in the NGO world?

    It would be great to hear of your experience in this on the blog.


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