Applying TQM in Social Projects -Children rights and youth participation as the community capacity building next frontier. by Reynaldo Rivera
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Applying TQM in Social Projects -Children rights and youth participation as the community capacity building next frontier. by Reynaldo Rivera



Is it possible to deliver a “Toyota-type” social service? ...

Is it possible to deliver a “Toyota-type” social service?
That is the question that led us to start a research on TQM, lean production methods and children participation. This article is the first article draft, intended to be a “provocative” piece of information that gathers without any kind of scientific design, data from different sources.



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Applying TQM in Social Projects -Children rights and youth participation as the community capacity building next frontier. by Reynaldo Rivera Applying TQM in Social Projects -Children rights and youth participation as the community capacity building next frontier. by Reynaldo Rivera Document Transcript

  • Applying TQM in social projects –Children rights and youthparticipation as the community capacity building next frontierAuthor: Reynaldo G. Rivera (InterMedia Consulting)INDEX:TQM.....................................................................................................................................................1Action research and community capacity building.......................................................................2Eurochild: giving voice to children in Europe ................................................................................3 Youth participation survey............................................................................................................5 Participation Network of the 101 of participatory projects ......................................................5 Consultation on the draft Council of Europe Strategy on the Rights of the Child – Eurochild contribution highlights .................................................................................................6TQMIs it possible to deliver a “Toyota-type” social service?That is the question that led us to start a research on TQM, lean production methods andchildren participation. This article is the first article draft, intended to be a “provocative”piece of information that gathers without any kind of scientific design, data from differentsources.First of all, let me define TQM. Project Management and Total Quality Management (TQM)are all achieved through similar protocols and procedures such as employeeempowerment in decision making, the use of facilitated teams in the organization,individual responsibility for products and services and a strong customer serviceorientation, working from a set of values envisioning a mission, maintaining commitment,sustaining motivation, prioritizing tasks, cooperating with others, communicating effectivelyand seeking to continuously learn and grow1.Project Management is the art of directing and coordinating human and material resourcesto achieve stated objectives within limits of time, budget and stakeholders satisfaction.This is often accomplished through the interaction of Project Management elementsapplied in various phases of the Project Cycle. These project elements include projectrequirements, organizational options, project team, project planning, opportunities andrisks, project control, project visibility, project status, corrective action and projectleadership. A project is a human effort that is unique, creates changes, has a defined startand end date, is constrained by time, cost and quality requirements, and includes staffs ofdifferent units, departments, background, experience and competences. Project objectivesare specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and timely2.1 John Morfaw, Total Quality Management (TQM): a model for the sustainability of projects and programs in Africa(University Press of America, 2009), xiii.2 Ibid., 1.
  • Beautiful definitions, are not they? Well, from our 6 years-experience perspective, ProjectManagement is a common element (in principle) in several social projects as a part of a“Project proposal to donors”. That’s all. Project controls, corrective actions, measurement,results assessments, etc. are the “big-missing-in-action-guy” in the majority of socialprograms we had the opportunity to know in depth.Let me follow with the next concept: TQM is a philosophy of total organizationalinvolvement in improving all aspects of the quality of product or service provided by theorganization. It is also referred to as Total Quality Control, Total Quality Leadership,Integrated Quality Management, Continuous Quality Improvement, Quality ManagementScience, Industrial Quality Management or Configuration Management. TQM is intendedto result in the improvement of services and products not by looking at what is producedbut by examining the process for root causes of problems, effects and errors3. In NGOs,this entire means: action research and problem analysis, beneficiary participation(customer – oriented products) and continuous processes and quality evaluation. Inmedium and small sized civil society organizations, all those concepts and strategies arecompletely absent. Let me offer the reader some evidence of that: • there is not any book in the Google Books database focused on applying TQM and Lean Transformation in NGOs, • scientific problem analysis for projects design is not applied, • and, the UN had to write an international Convention for promoting children participation worldwide, although there a lot of social projects and programs that have children as main beneficiaries. In consequence, children’s rights are at the very centre of the Council of Europe’s Strategy. In fact, it is designing a 2012 – 2015 strategy paper built on the achievements and the activities of the previous policy cycles of the programme “Building a Europe for and with children”.Action research and community capacity buildingIf the purpose of business is to create and keep a customer 4 (Drucker), civic societyorganizations (usually called NGOs) are created to identify and assist “a beneficiary” in asocial matter that is not solved by the government or the market.To achieve that mission, action research methodologies may be applied in the processof social projects design and implementation: once identified and defined the problem,selected a theoretical approach and paradigm (if available) and developed an approach (aguidance model) for tacking it, the most difficult stage of a social innovation starts: thedesign (selecting dimensions / areas of intervention and certain indicators for measuringoutcomes, results and impact) and implementation of a specific strategy in the field –which implies working with stakeholders, beneficiaries, donors, etc.3 Ibid., 4.4 Peter Atrill e Eddie McLaney, Management Accounting for Decision Makers (Pearson Education, 2009), 2.
  • Therefore, action research can be used as a methodological paradigm for buildingcommunities capacity (source: Institute for Community Research, Hartford, US, JeanSchensul): • It offers opportunities to access new information related to problematic issues. • It organizes people around a common set of questions and problems. • It provides collaborative methods for assessing, analyzing, recording and re/co- constructing community, history, ritual, stories, artifacts and other components of cultural identity. • It enables identification of local ways of conceptualizing and defining problems, needs and resources. • It offers an informed basis for critique, resistance and redefinition and political advocacy. • It democratizes science and access to science technology.Everybody who have a previous experience in the non profit sector had surely heard about“capacity building” processes and their relevance for development. However, it is commonto avoid defining it.Using Chaskin’s paper on the issue, a community capacity can be defined as theinteraction of human, organizational, and social capital existing within a given communitythat can be leveraged to solve collective problems and improve or maintain the well-beingof a given community. It may operate through informal social processes and/or organizedefforts by individuals, organizations, and the networks of association among them andbetween them and the broader systems of which the community is a part 5 . Inconsequence, community building processes are the efforts concerns strengthening thecapacity of communities to identify priorities and opportunities and to work to foster andsustain positive social change. The word capacity denotes both the idea of containing(holding, storing) and the notion of ability (of mind, of action). Applied to communities, thenotion implies the existence within them of particular capabilities, faculties, or powers to docertain things. These capabilities may have an impact on a number of aspects ofcommunity functioning, but in the context of community building are all concerned withways to help promote or sustain the well-being of the community and its components(individuals, informal groups, organizations, social interactions, the physical environment).Community capacity defines, in a general way, communities that “work”; it is what makeswell-functioning communities function well6.Eurochild: giving voice to children in EuropeIs there in Europe any good practice that fits the previous “action – evidence based”oriented model trying to improve participation of children in policy decisions and socialprograms?In InterMedia we have identified one: Eurochild (, a European networksupported by the European Community Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity,that: • ensures a voice for children, young people and the organisations that work with them in policy debates both at national and EU level; • strengthens EU policies on children’s rights in particular with regard to the fight against child poverty and exclusion and the promotion of child well – being and participation;5 Robert Chaskin, Defining community capacity: a Framework and implications from a comprehensive initiative. TheChapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago. 1999. Paper prepared for the Urban Affairs AssociationAnnual Meeting, Fort Worth, April 22-25, 1998.6 Ibid.
  • • builds an influential network of NGOs; • shares experience on what works best for children, young people and their families.How does it achieve those objectives? • sharing information • disseminating information on latest EU developments • forging NGO alliancesA clear example of spreading relevant information and influencing decision – makingthrough policy positions was the conference organized by Eurochild in Cardiff lastNovember 2011.We present in the following paragraphs some insights from that show a clear path forpromoting children’s rights through research, best practices databases, consultationsparticipation,Valuing children’s potential 7Committed with the promotion of the CRC, Eurochild published “Valuing children’spotential”, a book that present some case studies and relevant information with theobjective of describing a few of the pioneering examples of where children are given avoice.As Mária Herczog states, efforts to tackle child poverty and social exclusion can only befully effective if they find ways to empower children and involve them in decision-making.The benefits to the children directly involved are self-evident – as all the childreninterviewed for this book testify. But participation can have a much wider impact on policychange, on attitudes of service providers and the quality of the services delivered, andultimately on public attitudes to children. Such a shift in mentality can make a crucialdifference to breaking cycles of poverty and creating a society in which every child isallowed to flourish.What is participation? It is defined as the process of sharing decisions which affect one’slife and the life of the community in which one lives. It is a means by which democracy isbuilt and it is a standard against which democracies should be measured” (Hart, 1992,p.5).The dominant ideology underpinning ‘participation’ is that service users are best able todefine their own needs and to say how these needs should be met. By participating indeveloping a service, users are empowered to improve the sustainability and affectivity ofinterventions (Warrington 2010). In respect to youth work, participation offers anopportunity to challenge the ‘imperialist’ model of the relationship between children andadults, where adults assume power and authority. Instead, it advances a ‘partnership’model where adults and young people share decision making (Coleman 2010). This focuson participatory approaches is supported by the developing children’s rights (UNConvention on the rights of the child and UNICEF, 2002).A project carried on in 2009 taught three things.Firstly, that participatory activities need to be adaptable to the changing circumstances ofyoung participants whose home circumstances, health and wellbeing may changedramatically through the course of the work.Secondly, that although it is time consuming and resource intensive, it is important andproductive to involve vulnerable and disadvantaged young people in decisions about whatthey need and how services should be delivered. This can ensure that all young people,not just those who are articulate and motivated, have a say in effecting change to servicedelivery.7 All quotes were taken from:
  • Thirdly, that the process of participating is understood to be as important as the outcome.That is, the ongoing activity is valued as much as the product it creates. The learningexperience which is involved throughout the process of these activities can stimulatedisaffected young people to realise their self-worth.All these lessons are common principles in TQM and confirm the importance of applying itin social projects. The Eurochild’s book offer interesting case studies like children involvedin NGOs personnel recruitment process (Action for Children – The right choice), a CypriotChildren’s Parliament with members elected by their peers at school that gatherinformation through surveys (like InterMedia’s project on YouTube usage and abusage),the Funky Dragon Children’s and Young People’s Assembly for Wales (that involved10,000 children in a national survey).Conclusions are a clear indication that there is a lot of work to do in terms of NGOscapacity building applying action research and TQM paradigms: The process of children’sparticipation is as important as the outcomes: it gives children and young people andparticularly disadvantaged children self-esteem. It also gives them confidence and theylearn how to express their opinions using clear arguments and how to listen to each other.Participatory activities need to be adapted to the changing circumstances for youngparticipants, whose home circumstances, health and wellbeing may change dramaticallythrough the course of the work.Additional resources:Youth participation surveyConducted by the University of Bedfordshire, it gathered responses from 40 organizations(16 umbrella and 16 individuals), the majority of them working with people aged 0 to 18+(mainly 13 – 18).26 work with people who are experiencing poverty, 14 with disabled, 19 with those whoare in or leaving care.13 work with those who have caring responsibilities and 17 with victims of violence, abuseand neglect. Some of them involve children in the programmes development. 25 usechildren as volunteers. 23 provide training on participation (14 for policy makers).24 facilitate meetings between children and decision makers, 19 support children tocampaign on their own issues.Participation Network of the 101 of participatory projectsHow may an NGO promote children participation?PN (, after ten years of experience in the field, published theAskFirst! Standards that provide useful guidance for establishing effective directengagement mechanisms, as well as a benchmark for measuring effectiveness: • Appropriate methods • Support • Knowledge • Feedback • Inclusion • Respect • Senior People • Timing
  • Participation Network’s site provides to everybody interested on the issue complete accessto a vast database of case studies, methodological papers, strategy papers and researchreports.Consultation on the draft Council of Europe Strategy on the Rights of the Child –Eurochild contribution highlightsEurochild supports the vision expressed in the second Programme’s overall goal on theneed of designing and implementing holistic children’s strategies and policies.Equality in and through education should be presented as one of the key principles in thenew strategy and it should be pursued throughout the different strategic objectives. Aholistic approach to childrens rights should embrace the right to an education, alsoincluding a rational approach to one’s beliefs and peaceful coexistence between religions:in conformity with "Toledo guiding principles on teaching about religions and beliefs inpublic schools”, OSCE, stating that «There is a growing consensus among educators thatknowledge of religions and beliefs is an important part of a quality education and that it canfoster democratic citizenship, mutual respect, enhance support for religious freedom, andpromote an understanding of societal diversity».Shortcomings and good practices: gathering a comprehensive data and an in-depthanalysis of the situation in particular member states is a starting point of any action, whichwishes to be successful. Improving the existing monitoring systems, establishing childrights-related policy targets and monitoring their impact are one of the key challenges.Eurochild estimates the number of children living in residential care at 150,000 – out of theapproximate one million children in the public care system in the EU. It is now widelyacknowledged that children, especially young children, who are institutionalised, are likelyto suffer long-term damage to their social and emotional development given inadequatecare during these vital years of their development. Development of family based carewith carers who are well trained and well supported to do their job should be emphasised.Residential care must be regarded as a placement of last resort, provided for a limited timeand for as short as possible.Eurochild expressed its great content that one of the strategic objectives is explicitelydevoted to child participation through concrete actions and involvement of children andyoung people. The proposed focus on democratic citizenship and human rightseducation in the strategy is a natural way forward to empower children to exercise theirfull participatory rights through human rights education.EU conference speaks up for kids online rightsURL‘Building a child-friendly Europe: Turning a vision into reality’ - this was the objective theCouncil of Europe discussed with its partners at a conference in Monaco in late November2011. Chaired by Princess Caroline of Hanover, around 200 representatives fromgovernments and civil organisations debated topics such as justice, migration and violenceagainst children. One special focus this year was on children and new media."It is vital that children and youths are involved on all levels in the consultation about theirrights" said Janice Richardson, coordinator of the Insafe network, in the workshop titled‘Making children the masters of the game: data protection and the new mediaenvironment’. To further boost youth participation in online matters, she added, EuropeanSchoolnet has developed the Pan-EU Youth project and will soon be appointing youthambassadors so that young people can report about their experiences on the internet andcan be sure that policy makers listen.Further objectives of the workshop included a discussion on childrens rights on data
  • protection (that is, for example, the minimum age requirement in online environments),data conservation of childrens online activities, data abuse and the general need toremove childrens traces on the internet. Some speakers emphasised the need for privacyoptions by default for children.Other topics on the conference agenda included ‘Empowering children through learning:democratic citizenship and human rights education’ and ‘Childrens rights start at home:strong families for strong children’. The conference was a follow-up to a 2006 conferencein which the Council of Europe programme ‘Building a Europe for and with children’ waslaunched.The delegates assessed where progress has been made on the issues identified earlier.The overall feedback was positive: "The protection of children’s rights has been improvedin important policy areas," a speaker of the Council of Europe stated, however adding:"Despite the progress achieved, many challenges remain, while new threats to children’srights have emerged."Towards a Council of Europe Strategy for the Rights of the Child 2012-2015Draft strategyURLThe programme will focus on four strategic objectives:1. Promoting child-friendly services and systems2. Eliminating all forms of violence against children3. Guaranteeing the rights of children in vulnerable situations4. Promoting child participationIn the period 2012-15, the Council of Europe will aim at the effective implementationof children’s rights standards. This will be done through:- Promoting a holistic approach: support member states in observing the four principles ofthe UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: non-discrimination; devotion to the bestinterests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; and respect for the viewsof the child as well as the interdependence and indivisibility of children’s rights;- Information, awareness-raising and capacity-building: improve the access to informationof all stakeholders – including authorities, professionals, children and young people – onstandards, monitoring reports, campaign and training materials and any other relevanttools and provide professionals with training on the same;- Mainstreaming and monitoring: sustain and develop a child-rights perspective in allCouncil of Europe activities, in particular Council of Europe monitoring bodies, as well asmaintain and develop spaces for exchanging information and good practices and debatingon current and emerging issues.Co-operation with non-governmental organisationsThe Council of Europe will intensify its relations with the non-governmental sector,facilitating their advisory role and their access to Council of Europe tools and decisionmaking processes. Co-operating with research and academic institutions will be reinforcedin order to promote data collection and analysis and to develop the impact assessmenttools needed to guide action. The Council of Europe will also seek to strengthen co-operation with media and the private sector to promote awareness on and implementationof its standards. The Council of Europe will seek to build bridges between donors andNGOs as implementing partners.