“Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation” – Psalm 25:5
The Caribbean Centre for Organizational Excellence (CCOE) presented their inaugural
Conference in Barbados on March 12, 2013. This year’s conference, hosted under the theme “Achieving Excellence in Caribbean Organizations”, examined how organisational excellence contributes to organisational performance, the economy, trade and brand development. The rounds of discussions in the four working sessions of the conference were designed to go beyond examination to specific recommendations and actions.
The issues examined were: Forum 1 – The absence of effective standards of measurement, intelligence gathering and assessment mechanisms within Caribbean Organisations are a major threat to excellence in governance and leadership. Forum 2 – Caribbean organisations are confronted with developmental challenges and innovative solutions as leadership quality and organisational politics can sometimes act as barriers to effective management of staff. Forum 3 – The weak trade in Caribbean products and services in global markets is the result of a weak quality infrastructure that’s unaligned to global market requirements. Forum 4 – The harmonisation of regional efforts towards the development and adoption of a Caribbean Code of Excellence that’s aligned with global standards, if unimplemented within the next two years, will have unprecedented negative consequences for Caribbean trade in global markets.
CCOE’s Executive Director Jerry Blenman invited me to participate as a panellist in Forum 2 along with the Rev. Andre Symmonds, Senior Pastor at the People’s Cathedral and Dr. Emily Dick Forde, former Minister of Government in Trinidad and Tobago.
I began my presentation by recognising that Caribbean organisations reside not only in the public and private sectors but there are also organisations that, for whatever reason, may regard themselves as deserving an “other” classification. For the purpose of the discussion, therefore, I divided organisations into the following categories: (1) public sector organisations including the Cabinet, the Judiciary, the Houses of Parliament, Ministries, Departments and Statutory Boards; (2) private sector organisations including existing businesses (micro, small, medium and large), start-ups, spin-outs (internal splits of a section of an existing enterprise into a separate business) and scale-ups; and (3) universities, trade unions, churches, community based organisations (CBOs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
I suggested that the developmental challenges which pervade all categories of organisation include: commitment to excellence in customer service (the all-important revenue of the organisation comes from the customer), high levels of productivity (the best use of all resources at the disposal of the organisation) and sustainable development (development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs).
There was a stimulating interaction between the panel and the participants and the general conclusion which emerged was that in order to obtain effective solutions the management of the systems of business: corporate governance (including leadership quality and organisational politics); marketing (including trading practices), operations, people development and access to finance; must be not be found wanting.
I related a discussion which I had many years’ ago with a senior member of the clergy of the Anglican diocese in Barbados. I was trying to persuade him that “the church is a business”. He would have none of it. We agreed to differ. Rev. Andre Symmonds spoke after me on the panel and one of his first statements was to refer to my comment that “the church is a business”. He agreed by saying “Yes, the church is a business, it is God’s business”.
In last Friday’s Barbados Advocate I noticed a headline which stated “Church desperately needs more funds”. When I read the article it was an appeal from the Very Reverend Dean Dr. Frank Marshall of the Cathedral Church of Saint Michael and All Angels for funds to assist with the restoration of the most historical Anglican Church in the island which was now in a bad state of disrepair. It was reported that “notwithstanding the harsh economic climate, he urged individuals and groups to give whatever they could afford to the establishment as it plays a critical role in feeding the human spirit”. The article went on to quote Dr. Marshall “persons should see the cathedral as a symbol where they can receive spiritual guidance and upliftment”.
This appeal is taking place in a changing ecclesiastical environment where there are many churches in Barbados such as other churches in the Anglican diocese, the Catholic Church, the Methodist Church, the People’s Cathedral and the Abundant Life Assembly where the calls of desperation and not as apparent as at St Michael’s cathedral.
I am familiar with the Christian Cultural Center (CCC) which began in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York in 1978. The present Senior Pastor, Rev. A. R. Bernard, left a ten year banking career, to follow the call of God on his life to full time ministry to become the founding Pastor. Today CCC stands not only as a successful premier spiritual institution, in New York City and around the world, but as a unique model of Christian Ministry. The fact that CCC has a Mission Statement “To spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, help spiritual seekers become transformed believers, and demonstrate the love and compassion of Christ to the world, through humanitarian works and social engagement” is indicative of its respect for the Corporate Governance business system. I would not be surprised if further research revealed sound management of the other four business systems.
St. Michael’s and perhaps other members of the Anglican diocese would be well advised to adopt a business approach and adopt an appropriate business model.