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The 4 dimensions of the organizational capacity building

For organizations, the necessity of dealing with change invariably brings a feeling of apprehension. And that is natural, for them are not always equipped with the resources needed to understand the increasing complexity introduced by the continuous acceleration of the social processes. Still, as Confucious said, “It is better to light up a candle than to curse the darkness.”

In that way, although in the area of social economy organizations have increasingly invested more in the implementation of strategic planning activities, the path to go is still long. To prove it is the emphasis put by the social investors, both public and private, in the using of organizational diagnosis tools. Recent examples of that are the governmental program Portugal Inovação Social and the program Cidadania Ativa, that provide support to civil society organizations promoted by the Gulbenkian Foundation. But it is clear that both at an international level and Portugal, this list could continue to be a reference to more initiatives.

This is in part because in the drawing of a social intervention, might occur that, while trying to implement short term activities and present results that can be used as levers for financing release, it is created a tendency to shorten paths. Not always, for instance, is made a pre-evaluation of an elementary resource: the intrinsic and distinctive capacities of implementational organization. The organizational diagnostic, in spite of being considered necessary, is sometimes forgotten. This is a crucial point, since it is mainly through the level of capacity of an organization that we can identify its ambition limits, which concerns the creation of social impact.

To that end, when we internally analyze the main methodologies of existing organizational diagnostic to, afterwards, define a 4C Diagnostic methodology, designed from the requirements of the Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation initiatives in Portugal, we kept a fundamental idea: the organization must be faced with a complex and evolving system, therefore, capable of learning. Peter Senge speaks of “learning organizations”, in which people have space to develop their competences, generating the results that they desire and innovating, without loosing sight of the collective. This concept bridges the gap between the complexity and the engagement of people: one cannot live without the other.

These two ideas – complexity and engagement – allow the comprehension of why it is important to diagnose the capabilities of an organization, in order to: identify the needs to improve; and implement the accountability.

In addition to allowing the identification of institutional strengths and weaknesses, the institutional diagnostic encourages the participation of different stakeholders, while exploring other informal factors that affect the behavior of the organizational system and facilitates the monitoring of capabilities throughout time. It is, therefore, a valuable tool for organizational learning.

In the case of 4C Diagnostic we chose to analyze, in an integrated and participative way, 4 different typologies of capabilities that, together, contribute to the global capability of the organization to create an impact and promote changes: strategic and mobilization capacity; implementation capacity; relationship capacity; renovation and adaptation capacity.

Finally, it is important to mention that, besides being a powerful tool for strategic planning, the organizational diagnostic is an opportunity to invest in the organizations empowering. The aim is to reinforce its organizational capabilities and management competences, focusing on making them better prepared to generate social impact and attract social investment.

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