Appropriate decision-making

Appropriate decision-making

All that we are is the sum total of the decisions that we have made over the course of our lifetime, and fate or fortune’s whim has very little in terms of roles to play in how we turn out to be, either on a level individual or as a collective community. That the community is prosperous and peaceful is dependent on the type of individuals living in it.

This means in short that the first point of focus should be on the cultivation of good individual habits and tendencies that lead to the achievement of good character. Without individuals of good character, we are bound to end up with states that are plagued by corruption, unemployment, high rates of crime, drug abuse, depravity and related unsavoury habits that express themselves as bad deeds.

These have an adverse effect on the universal progress of state and society.
It is with the cultivation of appropriate individual character that decisions can be to the benefit of all citizens resident in any given domicile.

Poor cultivation of this salient aspect of human living leads to regress or stagnation in terms of tangible progress in different spheres of communal or individual living.

From Biblical times to the present, there has always been the occurrence of what can be termed as the pilgrim’s progress undertaken by the prophets and the individuals.

This pilgrimage is taken on two levels and for two purposes. The first level is personal, that is, it is related to the individual understanding themselves, and the second is related to the enhancement of one’s comprehension of the world around us.

The first purpose therefore, is to improve one’s sense of purpose, that is, to clarify one’s mind with regard to what they are in this world for. The second purpose is to ensure that one is always in touch (not out of touch) with the world.

From Moses’ ascension onto Mount Sinai, to Elijah’s isolation and divine provision in Kerith, to Jesus Christs’ sojourn in the Judaean desert, to the Prophet Mohamed’s spiritual search in the deserts around Mount Jabal al-Nour, to Morena Mohlomi’s wanderings across the vastness of the mountains and savannahs of Southern Africa, there has always been the need for the individual to first know and understand themselves before the impartation of their knowledge onto the general public. Moses got the tablets of God’s Laws for the world, Elijah got us the understanding of tolerance in its plainest terms, Jesus got us one of the largest religious denominations hinged on faith and tolerance, Mohamed got us the alternative perspective on God’s spirit of providence, and Morena Mohlomi taught the Moshoeshoe that we now know on the true tenets of humility and reconciliation.

It took the introspection of one individual or a group of individuals from different backgrounds to change the world for the better. This means that it took an individual or a group of individuals to lead the world into the state it now is in. We suffer because we have an uncultivated leadership that does not honour the idea of national progress to the core.

It may well be thought by those that fail to read between the lines that the quest for excellence begins when we look deep within ourselves and do away with the negative aspects of the human character such as natural racism.

What the process of making decisions should focus on is to address the real notion of humanity that all of us are equal inspite of, or, despite our race. All should be allowed equal opportunity to express themselves as they are on their own basis, and not on the basis of some standard that favours one race or a certain section of the colour bar at the cost of, or to the detriment of other races and their systems of value, belief, race, culture, or custom. In brief, no man should forget that he is himself human just so that he or she can be a more effective tool that serves not only the interests of one but also the interests of another.

In I Write What I Like Steve Biko asserts:
We do not need to apologise for this because it is true that the white systems have produced through the world a number of people who are not aware that they too are people.

Our adherence to values that we set for ourselves can also not be reversed because it will always be a lie to accept white values as necessarily the best. The fact that a synthesis may be attained only relates to adherence to power politics. Someone somewhere along the line will be forced to accept the truth and here we believe that ours is the truth.

Figures such as Thomas Mofolo held ideas which represent evidence of the nascent ideological awakening and resistance of black Southern African writers with regard to the issue of inclusion when it comes to the process of decision-making. Mofolo was a highly politicised intellectual (as can be seen by his involvement as a founding member of the Basotholand Progressive Association or the BPA).

Alain Ricard explains that at the time of his writing, Mofolo’s world was losing itself to written literature, and, some saw in this novelty the chance to express themselves. Thomas Mofolo’s first novel Moeti oa Bochabela so closely follows the tenets set in John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress in its character’s quest to reach heaven.

It is a beautiful tale exploring Mofolo truly believed in the tenets of virtuous living, and decision-making is expressed in the book in the pilgrim’s journey to the east. The pilgrim is a man of principle who is deeply pious, and his moral cultivation has him chin it on to the end of the journey despite the travails he encounters on the long journey to the east.

Thomas Mofolo’s Chaka served as a retrospective outlook on the Africa of the past, written in order to help Africa reflect on its future direction. It takes the decision of the individual to help the masses to think of their past to map the future, and for a writer to decide to force them to do so in a work of literature is a decision that not only benefits the writer in terms of accolade but also the masses that are left with a better sense of purpose for the future after reading the story about their glorious or hardship-filled past.

It is not an accident that Leopold Sedar Senghor, Senegal’s political icon, poet and writer provided the first French translation of Mofolo’s work; it is because he had found it to be relevant to his negritude beliefs prevalent in the era when Africa was ridding itself of the chains of colonial subjugation. The writing of Chaka by Thomas Mofolo was seen by this great leader as reminiscent to the core beliefs and Négritude’s central tenet:

In order to recapture an identity that was destroyed by the colonial experience and white imperialism, the ‘black man’ needs to return to his cultural and historical sources – in other words, to recapture a pre-colonial Africa as a means to envisage a new future.

Dealing with the future demands a strategic outlook to give that which needs to be achieved a better chance of occurring. Strategy formulation and execution continues to be a challenge in many African states because it is not well thought out and decisions related to its formulation are often scattered and without structure.

The question of whether strategy should be a top-down, bottom-up or middle-up-down process seems to be interpreted differently by different leaders. This is clearly seen in the case of Lesotho where good strategies are often discarded with each passing regime.

It means that the opinion of the individual leader or political party take precedence over the needs of the masses, leading to half-baked plans that have no effect whatsoever in advancing the progress of the state in terms of the alleviation of poverty, the eradication of disease, or the easing of the burdens of unemployment.

Management of strategy is a structured process, that is, it is not a randomly organised entity without hierarchy; each component in the managerial process is interlinked with the previous (the higher), and the next (the lower) component with the sole purpose of reaching desired and projected organisational goals through the proper usage of management as a tool for the achievement of the desired goals, objectives, or targets.

Without proper management, the best any individual, community or state can achieve is a series of visions that end up in stalemates. This the disease of many of the visions of the present day that go beyond their sell-by date to be replaced by other poorly managed strategies that end up as their predecessors did.

The problem here is with the process of decision-making at an individual level; the individuals or groups involved are plagued by indecision, leading to the core of the vision not being re-taught on a daily basis.

Management is a daily task, needing each individual to self-manage to make it easier for the supervisory elements of the management process to ensure that the task or strategy at hand is executed within the timeframe.

Olum Y. states that, “Management is the art, or science, of achieving goals through people. Since managers also supervise, management can be interpreted to mean literally “looking over” – i.e., making sure people do what they are supposed to do. Managers are, therefore, expected to ensure greater productivity or, using the current jargon, ‘continuous improvement’.”

Management is one of the most important human activities, and it has been used from the time human beings began forming social organisations to accomplish aims and objectives they could not accomplish as individuals. It is an essential aspect to ensure the coordination of individual efforts in the attainment of the goals of a given group, state, or society.

With the advance of progress and marked increase in global population figures, society continuously relies on group effort, and many organised groups have become large. This means that the task of managers has been increasing and the complexity of day-to-day or periodic organisational challenges need to be dealt with timeously to reach the desired goals.

The idea of management works from the top level to bottom with the manager serving as a facilitator protecting and promoting the sharing of information between sectors, guiding the adaptation of the individual and the collective, facilitating learning of new strategies and ensuring that all commit to the achievement of the desired goals.

The main role managers play is that of an implementer of final strategy who reviews the strategy and does appropriate adjustments where needed, constantly motivating and inspiring the strategy implementation team as a coach would. The in-between manager does not use imposition at any point; he or she questions those on the ground first before presenting their report of envisioned strategy in parliament.

The case of Lesotho where wool and mohair farmers lost out in a government-fashioned deal was due to poor decision-making processes by individuals whose management acumen ranks far below that of a screw. This led to the poor execution of what could have been a well-intended strategy, leading to its failure.

According to Weick, sense and meaning creation is a social as well as a cognitive process and as a result of the sense making process, the change recipients create new understandings and interpretive frames to carry on with the vision presented by the new strategy.

This means that whoever presents a new strategy should be aware that they do not impose it to ensure that the recipients understand it fully enough to participate in the implementation process.

To respond to new innovations in strategy-making, individuals must enter a conscious and less automatic sense-making mode, that is, the implementation should comprise of conversation, storytelling, and tangible documents.

It is in these preliminary activities presented in forums, workshops, meetings or conferences that what has been decided upon as a strategy is given the clarity needed to ensure its success.

The presence and contribution of everyone makes it likely that the outcomes regarding the new change make sense.

Lesotho has enough for all of us, the best we can do is give ourselves time to understand how a poor migrant from some far quarter of the world manages to gather millions of Maloti to invest back in their homeland whilst we sit watching and waiting. This country is a beggar only because young women and men do not bother to understand how things work to the benefit of all the citizens senior and junior.

We cannot depend on the political or leader class for our emancipation for one basic reality glares: the leader class in this country are the products of colonial education and therefore, they will in more ways than one share the tendency to believe that the saviour will come from their colonial lords.

The only way we can get out of the prevalent demise is through ensuring that our decisions with regard to effecting positive changes are well thought out before they are termed as strategies. We should decide well before acting, not the current way which has missed the mark by a mile.

By: Tšepiso S. Mothibi

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