The benchmarking peer learning session which was held at the Advocacy centre’s office on Tuesday, 22nd of February 2022 was led by DR. Nwanyanwu Kingdom. Six CSOs were in attendance, with a total number of 11 members. The meeting which kicked off at exactly 1:35 p.m. was spearheaded by MR. Oraeki, Temple who gave some introductions about the EU-ACT and their intentions to strengthen CSOs capacity. Furthermore, he explained the differences between a benchmarking session and action learning sets (ALS) for the sake of those attending the meeting for the first time, and those using them interchangeably. In benchmarking, a presenter is expected to share his or her organization’s best practices and the success stories that comes with it. In an ALS, a presenter is expected to share the challenges facing his or her organization, while other CSOs are to come up with possible solutions to that effect.
Moving further to the follow-up activity of the day’s business, the discussion topic was “Competition and Collaboration in the Civic Space.” Questions that were raised and answered by both the presenter and other peers were on valid point, which majority the majority of persons would later include as their Action Plan in their various CSOs. The presenter, DR. Nwanyanwu Kingdom asked members in the meeting to define competition. The following responses were given: Competition means trying your ability with others. This could involve an exercise engaged in, between a party and another, either in a context to win or achieve a goal. There were two elements mentioned above: context and winning. For instance, in a native community, if there is a wrestling completion, the whole essence of that wrestling in not to show off strength or power, but with the aim to subdue others and winning the goal. According to Wikipedia’s meaning of competition, competition is a rivalry where two or more parties strive for a common goal which cannot be shared: where one’s gain is the other’s loss (an example of which is a zero-sum game). Competition can arise between entities such as organisms, individuals, economic and social groups, etc. Competition has been defined as the activity or conviction of striving to gain or win something by defeating or establishing one’s superiority over others.
The truth of the matter is that people/organizations compete from time to time to strive at something better. Sometime ago, 2021 precisely, there was a restricted call from the EU-ACT for CSOs to apply for a grant. However, what most CSOs failed to understand was the non-disclosure from EU as to whether all the CSOs who applied would get the grant or not. Eventually, only very few CSOs were successful and selected. The main issue is since funding was involved, and limited to very few, everyone could not get the grant, and so there was that competition between the CSOs. The question CSOs should ask is if competitions are always bad. The answer is obviously no. A competition that have no elements of establishing one’s supremacy over others but trying one’s best to be good and outstanding, is called a healthy competition. There are some areas one needs to compete in. For instance, a man walks into his friend’s office for the very first time, and having seen the office with such a very high standard, should challenge him personally as his friend to strive for something similar and better. However, this has nothing to do with him competing with his friend. It is only a wake-up call for him, because his friend’s success is what would inspire him to do something better to be equally as good as his friend. In the overall, where there are competitions, beneficiaries and the societies are the ones who benefit. In a nutshell, drawing an inspiration from others can be challenging; and copying some person’s ideas are not usually the best practices, but it’s important to understand just what your competitors are doing to accomplish great things.
Forging ahead, Nwanyanwu Kingdom explained three benefits of a healthy competitions:
- Competition brings about innovation
- Competition creates large capacity
- Competition keeps CSOs accountable
Collaboration, however is a teamwork working together with the aim to achieve a goal. This could involve two or more persons coming together to share ideas. Team work and collaboration goes hand in hand. DR. Nwanyanwu Kingdom defined collaboration as a deliberate effort to work with others with an aim to achieve a predetermined goal. For a meeting involving two to more people, there may be up to 500 ideas and more which may not sound good to some persons, but each of those ideas have elements that can build them up. The ideas given may not be wrong, it only means that the viewpoints of people needs to be adjusted. In such meetings, there are no answers or ideas that is absolutely correct or wrong. Every idea are very useful.
While collaborating, there must be a deliberate effort or decision on the part of both parties. When resources comes into action, this would determine the kind of people to collaborate with. For instance, as a man, you are about to start up a small business but don’t have a dime in your account to run a business, no house to live in, no food to eat regularly, no job or salary to earn monthly, but the only the only thing you can boast of is your degree certificate, and there is another man living some few miles away from you, who has all the acquired properties, millions to spend, beautiful mansion to live in, healthy food to eat daily, and so on, but has no degree certificate, what comes to your mind? Obviously, collaboration. When there are collaboration, one stand to gain a lot such as capacity building, capacity strengthening, identifying strengths and weaknesses, connecting with others and sharing ideas that will expand your rising, increasing successes, building adequate resources, enhances team work, aside many other benefits but not limited to promoting inclusion and increasing credibility.
The reasons why collaboration fails most of the time:
- No terms of reference: the most reason while collaboration fails at some point is simply because there were no terms of reference through an established memorandum of understanding (MOU) on ground favourable to all parties to agree, sign and stick to the plans originated.
- Insincerity and personal hidden interests
- Lack of discipline from personal individuals
- Lack of visibility
- Unclear goals
The reasons why some CSOs does not like or do not believe in collaborations anymore:
- Betrayals: past experiences with wrong partners.
- Lack of trusts
- Lack of knowledge and communication
- Stolen ideas from the real sources
- Spirit of competition rather than collaboration
- Status pride