The original report was written by Aiducation Ambassador Yves von Ballmoos and summarized by Kerstin Hockmann, Aiducation Communications.

Systematically reviewing the performance of a business can be a valuable way to remind yourself and others of the strengths of a team and to spot areas that offer opportunities for improvement. From 16th to 20th January, Yves von Ballmoos, Ambassador of Aiducation, visited our Partner Organization Pathways in the Philippines and had a close look at their workflow processes and operational efficiency. The five-day visit was dedicated to analyzing its current state, identifying problems and working jointly with the Pathways team on optimization options. “A highly professional, motivated, tolerant, open and capable Pathways team warmly welcomed me”, Yves shared after his return to Switzerland, where the Aiducation headquarters is located. “This amazed me even more as everybody knew about my mission to change their processes.” Although the suggested improvement actions will mean a profound impact on Pathways’ business management, we believe that the team has the right attitude towards change – and this provides the best possible base for a sustainable partnership with Aiducation for today and in the future.

Our motivation for this analysis

Pathways to Higher Education was established 15 years ago as a social involvement program attached to and supported by Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines. Driven by its values – integrity, commitment to excellence, love for learning, solidarity and service to society – Pathways elaborated a highly professional screening process and various educational programs for high school and college students.

Due to the partnership with Aiducation, Pathways was able to grow remarkably during the last three years. In order to meet their own, very high standards, the workload continuously increased. This led to a high fluctuation on the staff side and Pathways’ incapability to further grow and meet the expectations of Aiducation.

Key Pathways team members were actively involved in the analysis of current state.

The organization’s strengths and weaknesses

The Pathways team operates highly professionally, has a clear concept and applies a strong methodology. Pathways staff have a great attitude towards work and they do everything possible to achieve their goals. While their quality-oriented attitude and strive for excellence is one of their major strengths, it is at the same time a detriment in boosting the organization’s efficiency. Together with their risk-adverse culture, this makes it hard to impossible for Pathways to expand.

In line with Pathways’ claim for excellence, the team puts a strong focus of their work on the documentation of processes. While good documentation practices may be essential to maintain a consistently high quality, Pathways’ tendency to over-document and over-engineer processes on the other hand consumes much of their work time. The communication within the team seems to be excellent, however, the exchange of information with people outside the organization, for example with Aiducation or people reading their homepage, is rather weak. Infrastructure problems, such as limited internet access and workspace, contribute towards these challenges.

“Where do we want to be in 10 years?” – a vision put on paper.

Eight steps towards improvement

After brainstorming tangible improvement measures, the Pathways team together with Yves were able to cluster many of the arisen issues into a specific project. The outcome was an action plan with eight projects and subtasks which were assigned to different actions owners with clear deadlines.

There is a lot of potential, financially and workload wise, within each project, but the real leverage will only be achieved by implementing all of the suggested actions. Core of the plan are the following three projects:

  1. The implementation of an improved information flow between Aiducation and Pathways. This involves, among others, the explanation of money flow to Aiducation and the transparent communication of the audited financial statement by Ateneo de Manila University. In addition, the organization will improve the external communication with stakeholders.
  2. The redesign of the recruitment process with respect to its efficiency. This project is anticipated to significantly increase the number of potential students eligible to the program.
  3. The revamp of the Trailblazer Leadership Formation and Aiducation Academy Program into more flexible programs with less redundancies between the two.

Other actions, such as the foundation of a “Pathways Family Club” or the establishment of a “Pathways Talent Pool” to provide companies access to our AiduFellows, will furthermore help Pathways increase their awareness. These actions will also improve Pathways financial situation and thereby freedom of action.

Final thoughts

We have to acknowledge the huge change process Pathways has entered into by agreeing on the above action plan and by rethinking and reconsidering their attitude towards operational risks. We also need to understand that all these changes and actions will take its time. 2017 will be a tough year for Pathways and we have to support them as much as possible. However, once the improvement actions pays back, Pathways will have more financial scope, less workload and finally more students for the program.

Everyone agreed on the action plant after the five days of work.

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