29 April 2009

AIESEC Norway CEO's failure 1 out of ?? - New Financial Model: rejected

AIESEC is an organization that works like that: the national executive board is only there to support the local committees to grow. So, for instance, the national executive board has no reason to exist if not for the local committees. That's why local committees should support the national association - as in any membership organization: the members support the association to provide its services, not the other way around. You pay a club to become a member, your payment and the other members give you access to some services, simple as that.

On the other hand, as in any membership organization, the members rule it completly (usually by voting decisions) - thus one more reason for members to support the organization and not the other way around. In reality, in AIESEC this means that local committees decide how much we can spend in each area of our budget, judge how many people to hire and fire, vote directly for choosing the CEO, discharge the national executive board after their term, etc.

Last weeks I've been working with our VP Finance and people from the board of directors to present to our Local Committee Presidents a new financial model to AIESEC Norway. Skiping the in depth details, this would mean that a bigger share of national board financial responsibility would fall under the local committees in a form of monthly fees. As a counter-offer, local committees would get more money for their performance.

This proposed financial model had 2 sole reasons of being:

- Give more responsibility to local committees to hold the association together
- Support performance improvement by destinating a bigger share of money to local committees

The proposed model is in contrast with the current model, where local committees get very little of the money generated, because the bigger part of it is retained in the national executive board. But the twist is that today local committes have no problem/pressure if they don't perform, because they don't need to pay anything to the association. ONLY and IF they perform, the national executive board retain a bigger share of the money generated. That would be the main change of the new model.

Yesterday I had one of the first (and still biggest for now) failures as elected CEO, since the new financial model was rejected by the local committee presidents. Weeks of work just rejected and threw in the trash. This hurts. I know as CEO I should be calm and somehow work to reach an agreement. But I couldn't. I failed. I was naive to think local committee presidents would think with the national association well-being as their first choice.

I am sure it's not only my failure though.

AIESEC Norway failed on yesterday's evening legislation. Fear, lack of ambition, lack of boldness, negativism, failure to commit to own goals, failure to take responsibility to drive the national association...

...lack of leadership.

I am ashamed by AIESEC Norway, both by local committee presidents lack of responsibility and by my failure to make some sense of the chaos that the legislation became. My failure in reassuring that it would be alright, that we would support local committees to grow and perform on the next level.

It was a setback, but I will keep trying. Failure is just midway to success.

I just need sometime to get myself together, because that was a hard one. Not achieving my goals (in this case, approving the new financial model) affects me so much that sometimes I wonder if I am the right person to be a CEO in an NGO full of volunteers that I don't have any real control, but only influence. I am sure the same local committee presidents that rejected my offer are not so worried or concerned as me.

Is this worth it?

Looking through my tons of AIESEC t-shirts and other memorabilia, I can say: yes. My experience was so amazing in this organization. No one or nothing will be able to convince me otherwise. Not even when people in it act the way they did.

I, my team and the new local committee presidents, local executive boards and local volunteers, we all will change AIESEC Norway for the best. This was just the first challenge and we will win as a whole, one AIESEC Norway.

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