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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Other failure is our success

One colleague sent me news (dating Nov 30) from local newspaper with note: Community refused housing assistance from an NGO (non-government organization) as the houses didn’t meet standard building code. However, NICE NGO (edited, our partner name) got a good report for smooth construction & good quality of houses in the area (see bolded sentences below).

You can measure success in several ways:
  1. do your best, without any target

  2. set up the target and reach or over it

  3. do as you can and find someone else failure
In number (1), the measure of success depends on process evaluation: do we have done our best? Since it does not have a target or standard, it is difficult to say what is success or failure.

The number (2) is more precise measurement, especially when we have quantitative indicators.

The number (3) solely relies on our luck, which means not really our luck, but a matter of another people bad luck.

Now back to our program. Actually, in my standard and our partner plan, the project is not really on track. From 415 quantities planned, now in construction are 342. Around 50 of them are the project hallmark and suppose to be finished by Nov 20. Yet till now (Dec 11), we have not finished a single house. Then we plan for finishing at least 5 houses for inauguration by Dec 21. Personally, I doubt we can do it as rainy season really cause serious obstruction.

In term of quality, we also have problems. House construction through public participatory approach is not easy: the people lack of skill, knowledge, and experience in construction. We sit and learn together while our civil engineer tries their best transferring knowledge. The engineers, who also construction supervisor, have to give advice to owner, who responsible to build it.

Unfortunately, combination of lack of skills, ignorant, and needs (the owner want house and it must be ready soon), induce the owner to order workers to build as fast as possible and take the house as it is. In their head (owner & worker) it is okay, since in the past that is how they build house.

However in term of engineering standard, such as earthquake resistant, the building is not good enough. It could be the source of the danger for the resident, since earthquake regularly happen and may destroy it.

In spite all the problems and weaknesses, we are success. The success comes from another NGO projects failure and they cannot delivery people expectation, even the lowest expectation.

Well, an ironic rule in the land of confusion: another people failure is our success.

I also suspect that some of the villagers refuse to accept Fail NGO house because they are jealous, seeing the neighbor village house is permanent and larger. At the same time, fact also indicates the Fail NGO is not able to delivery its promise, since Fail NGO has approach NICE NGO (our partner) to take over the house construction.


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