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“I believe that our “head” knowledge is intelligence. The head and heart combination is wisdom.”

In our 2010 summer newsletter, I shared with you a simple tool called OPMC (“Objective, Plan, Measuring success and Critical success factors”) that I used in coaching NGOs. This is a tool I distilled from two top multinationals and is useful not only for NGOs but also for most business and professional strategic planning. I emphasized that it was only a tool and I encouraged you to spend time with the NGOs personally. In this article I’ll discuss a flaw in the funding approval process of a number of charitable foundations.

 
The flaw is that charitable foundations tend to rely too heavily on the written application to assess the merits of a NGO program. In many cases, trustees make their decision based on the reports prepared by staff. There are three problems with this approach:
  1. There is significant limitation in any written application, even if written by a professional writer.
  2. Even if the leaders of the applying organizations are invited to present their programs in person, most of them are simply not skilled in showcasing the merits, because marketing and presentation are not part of their skill-set or training.
  3. We, the trustees, Grants Committee members or staff, are prone to ANTS (Automatic Negative Thoughts) when the applicant does not use analytics or numerics which are part of our business or professional DNA. These ANTS discourage us from taking risks with applications whose long term impact is hard to quantify, especially innovative initiatives in uncharted waters.

 

Solution

We should also use our “heart” knowledge. Heart knowledge is more experiential than intellectual. In other words, we rely on what our hearts tell us to do in a situation where it is difficult to use traditional methodology of analysis. Entrepreneurs call it their “gut feel”. The experiential knowledge and the rational assessment tool are two components of a powerful decision making mechanism.
 

The Passion of Leadership

Please invest time in informal discussions to understand the NGO leadership’s vision and passion. We all learn in business schools or corporate training the power of the passion of leadership. Such passion is invigorating. It is contagious and powerful. Mr. Wilberforce, Mr. Gandhi, and Mr. Sun Yat Sun were leaders whose odds were stacked against them, but they prevailed. In the process, they mobilized people who worked courageously to realize their visions, having been moved by their passion.
 

The “Heart” Experience

Two years ago, I started working with an NGO who ran a successful program to equip university students in China with proper values in their leadership training. Their program had been accredited by top universities in China and I thought I knew it well after having worked with the leaders on their strategic plan for two years. It was only at one of their camps in Hong Kong attended by ninety university students from China and forty from Hong Kong that I personally felt the impact on the students.
 
A senior executive from a well known multinational flew in from Beijing to speak to the students on the subject of doing business with integrity. In response to a question, he shared with them how he had suffered career setbacks by refusing to accept or pay bribes while working in China. The students were surprised by his candidness and more penetrating questions were asked and he answered them all, in a manner so open that you cannot see in any business conference. They broke into small discussion groups afterwards. Some were making their points energetically and others, deep in thoughts. A few retreated to a quiet corner to write on their journals. I knew in my heart that a seed was planted. When it would bear fruit I did not know but I was and am certain that it will. This personal experience taught me again to listen to my heart.
 
The leaders of this training program are ordinary people but have a vision to change China through equipping the university students with the right values. They are very passionate in their cause and I was moved every time they talked about the students. I now understand why they are able to attract so many experienced marketplace executives to be volunteer speakers or advisors. These marketplace executives are very busy and well sought after by business conference organizers for speaking engagements but they make time for the students. They travel to the events at their own expense. Why? These seasoned professionals know in their hearts that they can make a difference in the career aspirations of the students.


Call to Action

I believe that our “head” knowledge is intelligence. The head and heart combination is wisdom.
 
Please spend time with the leadership of your NGO partners. Feel their passion with your hearts. Combine what your hearts tell you with what your heads tell you during the evaluation process. This “heart” and ‘head” connection is very powerful in your journey to change society and nations.
 
A wise man once told me: the distance to travel from the head to the heart is only 13 inches, but it is a long journey for some.
 
How is it for you?

Rick Tang, Trustee of Fu Tak Iam Foundation
 

In our 2010 summer newsletter, I shared with you a simple tool called OPMC (“Objective, Plan, Measuring success and Critical success factors”) that I used in coaching NGOs. This is a tool I distilled from two top multinationals and is useful not only for NGOs but also for most business and professional strategic planning. I emphasized that it was only a tool and I encouraged you to spend time with the NGOs personally. In this article I’ll discuss a flaw in the funding approval process of a number of charitable foundations.

 
The flaw is that charitable foundations tend to rely too heavily on the written application to assess the merits of a NGO program. In many cases, trustees make their decision based on the reports prepared by staff. There are three problems with this approach:
  1. There is significant limitation in any written application, even if written by a professional writer.
  2. Even if the leaders of the applying organizations are invited to present their programs in person, most of them are simply not skilled in showcasing the merits, because marketing and presentation are not part of their skill-set or training.
  3. We, the trustees, Grants Committee members or staff, are prone to ANTS (Automatic Negative Thoughts) when the applicant does not use analytics or numerics which are part of our business or professional DNA. These ANTS discourage us from taking risks with applications whose long term impact is hard to quantify, especially innovative initiatives in uncharted waters.
 

Solution

We should also use our “heart” knowledge. Heart knowledge is more experiential than intellectual. In other words, we rely on what our hearts tell us to do in a situation where it is difficult to use traditional methodology of analysis. Entrepreneurs call it their “gut feel”. The experiential knowledge and the rational assessment tool are two components of a powerful decision making mechanism.
 

The Passion of Leadership

Please invest time in informal discussions to understand the NGO leadership’s vision and passion. We all learn in business schools or corporate training the power of the passion of leadership. Such passion is invigorating. It is contagious and powerful. Mr. Wilberforce, Mr. Gandhi, and Mr. Sun Yat Sun were leaders whose odds were stacked against them, but they prevailed. In the process, they mobilized people who worked courageously to realize their visions, having been moved by their passion.
 

The “Heart” Experience

Two years ago, I started working with an NGO who ran a successful program to equip university students in China with proper values in their leadership training. Their program had been accredited by top universities in China and I thought I knew it well after having worked with the leaders on their strategic plan for two years. It was only at one of their camps in Hong Kong attended by ninety university students from China and forty from Hong Kong that I personally felt the impact on the students.
 
A senior executive from a well known multinational flew in from Beijing to speak to the students on the subject of doing business with integrity. In response to a question, he shared with them how he had suffered career setbacks by refusing to accept or pay bribes while working in China. The students were surprised by his candidness and more penetrating questions were asked and he answered them all, in a manner so open that you cannot see in any business conference. They broke into small discussion groups afterwards. Some were making their points energetically and others, deep in thoughts. A few retreated to a quiet corner to write on their journals. I knew in my heart that a seed was planted. When it would bear fruit I did not know but I was and am certain that it will. This personal experience taught me again to listen to my heart.
 
The leaders of this training program are ordinary people but have a vision to change China through equipping the university students with the right values. They are very passionate in their cause and I was moved every time they talked about the students. I now understand why they are able to attract so many experienced marketplace executives to be volunteer speakers or advisors. These marketplace executives are very busy and well sought after by business conference organizers for speaking engagements but they make time for the students. They travel to the events at their own expense. Why? These seasoned professionals know in their hearts that they can make a difference in the career aspirations of the students.


Call to Action

I believe that our “head” knowledge is intelligence. The head and heart combination is wisdom.
 
Please spend time with the leadership of your NGO partners. Feel their passion with your hearts. Combine what your hearts tell you with what your heads tell you during the evaluation process. This “heart” and ‘head” connection is very powerful in your journey to change society and nations.
 
A wise man once told me: the distance to travel from the head to the heart is only 13 inches, but it is a long journey for some.
 
How is it for you?

Rick Tang, Trustee of Fu Tak Iam Foundation