Round 1 (November 12-23)
An organization that is coherent and focused must have a common purpose and its members must know what that purpose is. Even better, those members must have ownership of that purpose, having participated in defining it. This is the case in organizations that are more than the sum of their parts.
LIRNEasia is an affiliate of LIRNE.NET, an organization that was created by Bill Melody, Rohan Samarajiva and Knud-Erik Skouby (with the help of several others) in 2000. It is through IDRCs interactions with LIRNE.NET and its affiliates that the conditions for the creation of LIRNEasia arose. To a certain extent the transmission of the value and culture of LIRNE.NET into LIRNEasia cannot be avoided. But there must be a participatory process whereby LIRNEasia members shape the vision and mission of the organization. The colloquium of the 12th of November 2004 was the beginning of that process. It wasnt intended to be the beginning, but that was the outcome of our discussions. This is the next step. Given our ambitions of becoming truly regional, we cannot privilege the face-to-face interactions of the colloquium that much over the virtual interactions of the web. We hope to wrap this up before yearend, if we can get the input of the Board of Directors organized by that time.
First let us agree on working definitions of vision and mission [open to revision, if supported by good arguments]. I am purposely keeping away from the standard management definitions. These working definitions are based on experience and hopefully in line with common sense. In my view, mission is more important than vision for an organization of our type. I am open to working only with a mission statement, if thats the majority view.
Vision: a succinct statement of how we see ourselves in, say, five years. It is an abstract statement of an ideal. It should not be possible to measure progress toward the vision quantitatively.
Mission: a statement of our principal purpose(s), values, and to some extent the methods we plan to use to achieve our purpose. It should tell us what we are about and what we are not about. It should help us to decide on priorities. It should accurately communicate to our stakeholders who we are and what we are about. The mission statement can be operationalized into measurable goals.
The provisional mission statement that was articulated on the 1st of September when we started work at the LIRNEasia office was:
To improve the lives the people of Asia by making it easier to use the information and communication technologies they need; by changing the laws, policies and regulations to enable those uses; by building Asia-based human capacity through research, training, consulting and advocacy.
My vision for LIRNEasia:
A truly regional organization that serves as a catalyst for reform in Asian network economies. Its services are in demand by governments, private-sector actors and civil-society because of its expertise, commitment, and fairness. It is financially stable and able to reward the work of its members appropriately.
Please give us your comments, proposals, alternative formulations, amendments, or whatever. Given the nature of the process, we will give weight to the views of those having a stake in LIRNEasia, so it will be necessary to login and give your comments under your names, rather than as guests. Divakar will collate and tabulate the responses and post them on the web. Then we will go into a second round where people will be asked to respond to the collective views expressed in the first round. Lets think of the 23rd of November as the end of the first round.