FROM THE FOUNDERS
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Daniel Marco Siegfried
Co-Founder & Managing Director Programmes
I remember from my banking days 20 years ago, the countless discussions about whether to align the organisation according to sectors or geographical location. The result was often a complex and sometimes confusing matrix structure. Child’s Dream actually had the same dilemma until recently.
In September 2009 we introduced our focus groups: Basic Education, Higher Education, and Health. Colleagues in our offices in Chiang Mai, Siem Reap and later Yangon were assigned to one of these focus groups and reported to their functional supervisors in the Chiang Mai office. As our teams in Siem Reap and Yangon needed local supervision, we later appointed a country director for Myanmar and Cambodia. This structure was ideal during the build-up and high growth phase of Child’s Dream because it allowed for a lot of hands-on capacity building and knowledge transfer from our more experienced colleagues based in Chiang Mai to of our staff in these two locations. However, as our offices in Cambodia and Myanmar grew, this matrix structure became increasingly complex and led to confusion among the employees.
In December 2019, Marc and I started to work with the management team to discuss a new structure with the objectives of empowering our local offices, reducing complexity in reporting lines, increasing synergies among teams in each location, developing more customised country specific strategies and better utilising the organisation’s vast knowledge, experience and competencies. We had planned for a multi- day workshop with our management team facilitated by an external expert. Unfortunately, since covid-19 and the resulting travel restrictions made a physical meeting impossible, we organised a series of online video meetings until the most suitable structure was defined.
As of 17 August 2020, Child’s Dream is structured according to three geographical areas with a respective country director in each: Myanmar with our office in Yangon under the leadership of Dr. Tint Maw; Cambodia with our office in Siem Reap under the leadership of Mr. Yem Khlok; and Thailand and Laos with our office in Chiang Mai under the leadership of Ms. Charuwan Phaisantham (Tai). These three offices and staff are responsible for the implementation of our strategies in their respective countries. If needed, they are supported by staff with functional and technical expertise based in our regional HQ in Chiang Mai.
Some initial normal worries and uncertainties among staff has given way to a new excitement and to an enhanced team spirit and we already see many benefits from the new structure. Marc and I are sure that this structure will serve us well during the next phase of more matured growth. Time has definitely left its mark both on the organisation and its founders, which can be observed among other things from Marc’s graying hair and my receding hairline. However, we do not focus too much on the physical marks like our hair challenges, but a lot more on the realisation of the impact on our beneficiaries that we have already accomplished. We are as motivated as ever and something tells me that we are just getting started.