It is not a great surprise that the non-government organization of young people AIESEC is considered to be one of the fastest growing and highly innovative NGOs in the World. To support the statement the following facts can be given:
– Successful history of more than 60 years (since 1948);
– Available good case practices (GCPs) of team / project / innovation management and organizational culture that serve as examples for other organizations and private companies;
– Long-term partnerships with large transnational corporations: Alcatel-Lucent, Deutsche Post DHL, Electrolux, Indersoll Rand, Microsoft, Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), UBS, Unilever, Vale and many more;
– Numerical achievements (based on the data of 2009 – 2010): coverage of more than 107 countries and territories, presence in approximately 1700 universities, around 45000 members and 9000 leadership roles, more than 5500 internships provided and 470 conferences organized per year, over 800000 alumni.
However, an obvious question arises here:
How an organization of students and recent graduates with few or no working experience engaged in its activity on a volunteer basis is able to deliver such impressive results and maintain constant growth?
Well, the answer can be found in the Monad Model of Development.
Monad (from the Greek “monas” – the whole) can be described as a single, neutral, and balanced system containing all existing elements. A well-known example of monad is the Chinese Tao that represents the interconnection and interdependence of seemingly contrary forces within a united system (the yin and yang concept).
Now, let us place the Tao monad in a system of coordinates, where the X axis represents the time, and the Y axis – numerical achievements (Gross Domestic Product, investments, sales results, etc.). And here you have it: a single segment of the economic growth cycle with its active growth (boom), growth peak, recession, crisis point (trough), and recovery.
In long-term scale monads can also represent the Kondratiev waves, or Supercycles, used for describing the development of world economy and civilization on the basis of innovations.
As you see, the Monad Model is a universal one and can be applied to the development of economy, society, organization, etc. Therefore, it is also suitable for displaying the growth of an AIESEC entity (committee). I have chosen an example of AIESEC Moldova, as I was a part of its history and possess detailed information about it. The timeline shown in the following diagram reflects the period between the committee’s reestablishment in 2004 and till the end of our National Executive Board team’s mandate in 2009.
One can apply the presented diagram to any local or national AIESEC committee in every country where it is present. Only the numerical data and description of periods and achievements will change, the overall structure should remain the same.
Now, what KEY SUCCESS FACTORS of organizational growth are shown here:
1) Each new monad (segment of growth cycle) is based on certain significant (even revolutionary) achievement / innovation that transfers the following system onto a new level (transfer point). In simpler words, during a mandate every generation of leaders in AIESEC create a solid platform for their successors to capitalize on and achieve greater results.
2) In order to create the transfer point the organization requires significant amount of resources (people, time, finance, etc.). That is why the preceding period is characterized by downfall in organizational performance and effectiveness. Still, as you have noticed, the downfall is the lowest point not of the whole cycle, but only within the current monad. This means the organization always has the possibility to gather resources from the lower level, combine them with the ones on current level (obtained from the booming period within the current monad), and invest all of them in creating the necessary achievement / innovation.
3) The stability of the whole cycle depends on interconnection of the current growth level, the preceding one, and the succeeding one. Each monad is present in all three levels at once, indicating that the organization actively uses current trends and opportunities, involves people (partners, alumni) and resources already obtained in the previous term, and performs strategic planning for the period ahead (5-years strategy “AIESEC 2010”) – all within one balanced process.
Additionally, what IMPORTANT LESSONS can be learned from the Monad Model of Organizational Development:
1) In order to gain something significant, you need to invest much in it. Often it leads to a certain downfall in performance. The key to further growth here lies in not crossing the limit and performing the investment in the right time and place to stimulate the recovery process.
2) The overall victory of an army depends on all preceding battles, be they successful or not so. For in victories the soldiers gain motivation to move further, in defeats they obtain the knowledge and strength to win. This is also true for the organization: the current growth is impossible without the achievements and failures of all previous generations of its members and leaders. You need to be grateful and respectful to them, and capitalize on their advice and support as much as possible.
3) The so-called Power of NOW is an impressive and inspiring thing, but it is extremely limited and useless without the Powers of PAST and FUTURE. For only the preceding results, present actions, and planned initiatives and innovations entangled in single process will create the enormous synergy of growth.
Of course, the information on the Monad Model is not limited to this article – there are many peculiarities to be found in various scientific sources. And the Model is appropriate not only for AIESEC – it is able to explain the development of any organization, company or public institution. The reason I have used it particularly for this organization is that the Monad Model allows explaining the global growth by using a part of it as an example, determining key success factors and coming up with lessons to be learned and implemented in order to support organizational development.
Thus, you have the answer on the question at the beginning of this post. No brainwashing, just pure science of AIESEC.