“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” – 1 Peter 5:10-11
Many of us may have been brought up with the quote “Practice makes Perfect”. Indeed, perfection is one of those absolute concepts to which we aspire. It is like a horizon – the apparent junction of earth and sky. It is like the concept of infinity – unbounded space, time or quantity. The concept of horizon, in this context, is that of perception and so is perfection. Infinity is unachievable and so is perfection. As a colleague of mine is wont to say, we should have been brought up with the quote “Practice makes Improvement”.
Traditionally, an organisational development (OD) programme is built around the concept of continuous improvement. Indeed, the sequence of steps which guides an OD process is vision, mission, core beliefs, strategic structures, and distributed accountability. A review of the OD literature will reveal that Leadership-in-High-Performance has become a buzzword associated with “continuous improvement” and “excellence” programmes.
Two Saturday nights ago, I presented the feature address at the 2008 annual Graduation Ceremony and Dinner of the Barbados Cooperative & Credit Union League Ltd. I admitted that, although the Credit Union movement has, for one reason or another, not been part of my life, over the years, I have been associated with colleagues who have been very deeply involved in the movement; with companies which have partnered with credit unions in Barbados and beyond; and I have been a part of a team that has offered services to credit unions.
I shared with the audience some of the activities with which I have been involved, in the context of what I understand their mission to be, and suggested that the synergies from this interaction would result in the establishment of a ‘smart partnership’ between our two organisations which would redound to the benefit of Barbados.
My understanding of the League’s mission is, as the representative body of the Barbadian co-operative credit union movement (34 members), to provide a range of services; develop people through economic and social change; utilise dynamic, innovative and efficient methods to further develop credit unions and other co-operatives in Barbados; and to commit itself to a sound governance structure.
I proposed that the thread of CBET’s entrepreneurial development thrust and the thread of the League’s credit union development thrust may be woven into a fabric which may be of mutual benefit to both organisations and proceeded to deliver some food for thought under the theme “Contributing to High Performance for Barbados: Your Credit Union and You”.
From a socio-economic perspective Barbados has done well since the Second World War, compared to its Caribbean neighbours are concerned. It has one of the highest GDP per capita (a measure of economic development) statistics among Caribbean countries. Barbados is highest in terms of the UNDP’s human development index (a measure of social development), not only among Caribbean countries but among all developing countries in the world. However, there is still a gap between Barbados’ socio-economic performance and that of first world countries.
Instead of resting on our laurels we must try to emulate recent successful emerging nations such as Singapore and the Republic of Ireland. In 1959, when Lee Kuan Yew assumed the reins of Prime Minister, Barbados was ahead of Singapore. At that time Singapore was described as a sleepy fishing village threatened by communism and indeed Singapore did not surpass Barbados from a macro-economic perspective until after 1970. In 1988 Ireland was a socio-economic basket case where its economy was considered by many to be completely hopeless.
But in the words of poet and essayist Alexander Pope in 1733:
Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
Singapore and Ireland are now leaders in the world. Barbados would do well to learn from them. Indeed, hope springs eternal.
My food for thought to the audience was: (1) A proposal of a ‘smart partnership’ between our two organisations which would redound to the benefit of Barbados; (2) Encouragement to individual members of the credit unions to prepare for a potential deleterious ripple effect from the global financial crisis, which could lead to job losses. (3) A recommendation that a high performance thrust towards enterprise development could give a measure of security which is dependent primarily on the individual’s passion, drive and diligence; and (4) The innovative CBET Shepherding Model and twin fund Seed & Venture capital concept is a way in which the challenge, associated with risk and lack of timely access to funds which accompany excursions into enterprise development, can be effectively addressed in the mutual interest of all.
It was most gratifying early the next week to receive a call from a member of the audience, indeed a staunch credit union member, who wanted to share his business idea with me and become a part of the emerging family of successful high performance enterprises, one enterprise after another. We had a very fruitful discussion and by the grace of God, we look forward to demonstrating Leadership in High Performance as we embark on the journey towards perfection, strength and sustainability.