OCA Madness

Remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned that I was doing an organizational capacity assessment (OCA) with my organization? Well, we finished the assessment phase, and we also had an all-staff workshop this past Thursday to decide where to focus our energy for the next year!

Small group exercise during the results workshop

So what exactly IS an OCA? An OCA is a way to look at the strengths and weaknesses of an organization. There are many OCA tools, but I chose the International HIV/AIDS Alliance’s CBO Capacity Analysis tool because it’s geared towards small, grassroots organization that work with HIV. The tool reviewed seven key areas: governance and strategy, finances, administration and human resources, project design and management, technical capacity, networking and advocacy, and community ownership and accountability. We worked together to create a baseline by doing staff |interviews, management team interviews, and document review.

Me facilitating the staff vision session

Everything was a bit rushed to squeeze the all-staff results workshop in before Peace Corps’ in-service training, but we managed to pull it off! I am super grateful to my amazing tutor, Dikeledi, who helped me translate all of the areas evaluated by the OCA tool into Sesotho; the youth center for cooking lunch and taking pictures for us; and the LCCS staff for all of their hard work. It was really great to use my organizational management skills in such a different environment than I’m used to.

Staff bonding after a delicious lunch cooked by the youth center

The workshop built on itself to help ensure that staff had a good foundation of knowledge and were able to make informed decisions about LCCS’s action plan. We started with an exercise to come up with a “recipe” for a good organization. Then we connected each “ingredient” from the teams to the tool areas to help explain what each area covered. Staff then voted on their top three OCA tool areas using stickers, deciding on governance and strategy, project design and management, and finances. I presented the results of the assessment, and we took time to celebrate LCCS’s strengths, including a small group exercise on “What Makes You Proud to Work at LCCS?”

Staff using stickers to rank the top OCA tool areas

Staff working on their recipe for a good organization

We also did a fun trust-building activity about leadership. One group member stood at the finish line without a blindfold, while the other two stood at the start line with blindfolds. The goal is for the “leaders” to guide their teammates to the finish line using only their voice. The two rules were that the leader couldn’t cross the finish line to help their team, and if any staff bumped into another team’s members, they would both have to go back to the starting line. This activity was followed by staff drawing vision maps of the future, voting on their top three projects to focus on next year, and assigning responsible people. It was amazing and invigorating to see the high level of staff participation. We capped the day off with a certificate ceremony, and we celebrated with no-bake cookies, an American classic 😊

Team-building activity

One of the groups presenting their vision map

Thursday was definitely one of the best days since I’ve come to the village. The OCA was incredibly challenging at times, but I am excited to work with LCCS to develop and implement our capacity building action plan for next year! Mostly, I am incredibly grateful to all the people that made the process successful and relieved that it went well.

Certificate ceremony!

Enjoying the no-bake cookies

 

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