Project Management

The Problem With Your Organization’s Social Outreach Efforts

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at [email protected]. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

There’s an old saying that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” You can interpret that a couple of different ways—that simply wanting to do the right thing isn’t enough, you have to actually do it. Or that just because you want to do the right thing doesn’t mean that it will result in the right outcome.

I see both of those situations occurring with projects that are designed to have a positive social impact, especially in the developing world.

I’ve seen both sides of those projects—as someone involved in projects designed to help developing communities improve their quality of life, and as someone who lives in a developing world country. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that it is even more important than ever to focus on outcomes—and the impact of those outcomes on the community. Simply concentrating on project outputs doesn’t work. Here’s a simple example of what I mean.

My wife worked with a volunteer group to help with the distribution of donated shoes to schools here in Honduras. The shoes were provided as part of a corporate program from a company in the United States, and the idea was that once a year, each child would receive a new pair. The schools were used as distribution centers for both logistical reasons, and to encourage the kids to attend school.

Within a few …

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You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.

- Margaret Thatcher