Sunday, August 22, 2010

Network collaboration holds big possibilities ... but takes work!

Dear Colleagues

I would like to share this exchange ... there are a lot of people interested in the potential of networking and using the power of the network to facilitate development progress. The first message is from David Barnard of SangoNet.
On Mon, May 3, 2010 at 10:19 AM, David Barnard wrote:

Dear all

This is a critical year for Africa as we head towards the United Nations Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), to be held from 20-22 September 2010 in New York. With only 5 years before the MDGs are to be achieved, it is important that all African stakeholders, including citizens, review the progress made in recent years and develop a set of priorities for engagement and advocacy in Africa, and towards building a redefined relationship between Africa and the international community.

Against this background, African Monitor (, a Pan-African organisation monitoring development funding commitments to Africa and facilitating the involvement of African voices in the development agenda, and various partners, including ONE and the Southern Africa Trust, are facilitating consultations around the continent to develop a citizen-driven agenda for Africa in the second decade of the 21st century.

The face-to-face consultations are complemented by an e-consultation process, referred to as #AfricanAgenda2010, to leverage mass input and collaboration. The target is to generate feedback and responses from 10,000 people. The e-consultation will be a useful tool to solicit people’s perspectives on what they think are the key emerging priorities for Africa. This exercise will identify trends and common issues or priorities in a timely manner along with the face-to-face consultations which explore emerging issues in greater depth.

Coordinated by SANGONeT, the #AfricanAgenda2010 e-consultation is open to all African citizens, including in the Diaspora.

Your participation is crucial to the success of the e-consultation process.

• Complete the #AfricanAgenda2010 Survey -;
• Comment on the issues, challenges and priorities raised during both the face-to-face and e-consultations -;
• Assist us in raising awareness about this process by encouraging your friends, colleagues and people in your networks to also complete the survey.

The final outcome of this consultative process will be a document highlighting key emerging priority issues for Africa for 2010 and beyond. It will be presented to the African Union and shared at other strategic platforms at country, regional and continental levels, with special attention to those that can implement its recommendations by 2015 and contribute to poverty reduction and sustainable development across the continent.

For more information about #AfricanAgenda2010, refer to

Thank you for your participation and support.

David Barnard
Executive Director
Southern African NGO Network (SANGONeT)
Tel: (+27) (11) 403-4935
URL: /
"Linking civil society through ICTs"
I learned of this because of a message from Tobias Eigen who is the creator of the Kabissa network.
From: Tobias Eigen
Date: Mon, May 3, 2010 at 4:43 AM
Subject: Re: #AfricanAgenda2010 - Have your say about Africa's development priorities
To: "a research list on civil society, ICT and south-south info-politics"

Dear David -

This is a terrific initiative - congratulations! I've crossposted your letter to Kabissa ( and distributed it to members of our community blog. Please let me know if you'd like to do this differently and how else Kabissa can support #AfricanAgenda2010. You could add it to our organization database, for example, and we can display the logo on the Kabissa frontpage. I'd also be glad to use Kabissa to promote and raise awareness about the platform which is a terrific resource.

Warm regards,


Tobias Eigen
Founder, Kabissa - Space for Change in Africa
Membership is free. Join at
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And then I followed up with the following. My aim was to have not only the survey information in the dialog but the broader agenda of better metrics about society bearing in mind the old saying that only what is measured gets managed.
Dear Colleagues

I agree with Tobias, this is a great initiative ... and I will help all I can!

My "agenda" has ... or at least my goals have ... much in common with SANGONeT and Kabissa. Broadly stated I want to see more socio-economic progress ... everywhere!

I read engineering and economics at Cambridge and graduated almost 50 years ago. The expectation at that time was that there would be huge socio-economic progress everywhere around the world largely because of the end of the colonial era ... and the progress with science and technology.

50 years later science and technology has delivered ... but our socio-economic decision makers have not. After graduating from university, I qualified as a Chartered Accountant and I think it is fair to say that modern technology is a million times more cost effective than the accounting tools I worked with at the start of my career ... so why are the data used for decision making so poor?

This is a question that I worked on in the early days of corporate computerization. People need data that are helpful in improving their personal situation ... their personal performance. They are not helped by data overload and additional complexity. They need data that are clear and relevant. They need timely feedback.

The financial sector debacle of the last few years reflects a fatal flaw in the key metrics of society. Markets do a good job of allocating resources ... but only when the information being used makes sense. In the case of the capital markets the key metrics are corporate profit, stock market prices and GDP growth ... and using these metrics money has successfully been allocated to making more and more immediate profit at the expense of society, the environment and the future.

I argue that the information used for the capital markets should be not only those that relate to money profit, but there should also be metrics about value. Every business on the planet works with profit accounting. Every community on the planet should work with value accounting. These need to be combined as information that guides the allocation of resources and the markets that do this.

Value is important ... but it is subjective and it is not easy to quantify. It can be done ... and in the work we are doing with Community Analytics (CA), value is quantified in a "standard value" framework. Simply put, standard value is to CA what standard costs are in cost accountancy.

In regular accountancy, the organization does the accounting and does the reporting. Observers are able to use these reports to draw conclusions. The impact of the activities of these organizations on community is not part of the reporting. Initiatives for organizations to report double and triple bottom line performance have not been very effective ... for a number of very good reasons.

In the CA framework, the community is the reporting entity. Data about progress of the community shows the progress of the community, and data about the activities of the community help to ascertain the performance in whatever form makes the most sense. Some of the activities of the community are implemented by organizations with profit reporting ... many activities happen in a variety of not for profit settings and in the informal sector ... many activities are the responsibility of public bodies. ALL of these activities end up progressing the community or not.

In money profit accountancy for the organization the balance sheet is an important presentation. The difference between two balance sheets is an indicator of progress for the organization. A balance sheet of a community has the same ability to be a measure of progress for the community. This makes it possible for a relatively small amount of information about the community to give a very powerful metric about socio-economic progress.

I am committed to the idea that if you change the way the game is scored, you will change the way the game is played. Others have observed that you cannot manage what you do not measure. I have used the idea that good management information is "the least amount of data that gets good decisions made reliably".

I have also a high respect for decision making at the lowest level of an organization or a society ... the purpose of data is to guide these decisions so that there are good outcomes. I am always being impressed by ordinary people doing extraordinary things ... and conversely totally depressed by powerful people doing dumb things, and never being held accountable because the data are missing!

My dream ... hope ... plan ... is to combine what I have described with the capabilities of modern technology, and specifically data and the mobile phone, the Internet and the Cloud!

My reality is that I do not know technology well enough to do it well ... but why does this have to be a constraint when there all sorts of good people who can do all of this better than I can!

Is there a way these ideas about metrics fit into you initiatives ... bearing in mind that "What gets measured gets done!".


Peter Burgess

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