organization | Of Mind and Money

organization


Learning to Organize

Posted on June 7, 2011 by Tara Thiagarajan in Blog, Writing. 1 Comment

Back in 1996 when I was in business school we used to sit around and make fun of our organizational behaviour classes. Soft stuff. Not hard core like finance. Now I know better. Finance is the easy stuff. Organizational behaviour on the other hand is complex and can profoundly change socital outcomes.

So what is organizational behaviour about? If you really think about it, it’s about how human beings come together to share their knowledge and abilities to create, build and get things done. And why should we do this? Because when it is done well, the outcome can be far greater than the sum of the parts.

Paradigms of progress are exemplified by large scale organization. In the United States and most European countries, for instance, somewhere between 5 and 10% of working adults are entrepreneurs. In India it is almost … Read More »


The Decade of the Cow

Posted on January 3, 2011 by Tara Thiagarajan in Blog, Microfinance, Writing. 4 comments

According to the microfinance calendar, the last ten years were the decade of the cow. We celebrated the cow as the path out of poverty. At Madura we even benchmarked the loan amount to the cost of a cow. What good is a loan if it’s not even enough to buy a cow? And so over the last decade the microfinance industry has supported the purchase of millions of cows across the country. Millions of scrawny cows with poor yield it turns out; a hallmark of the inefficiency of microenterprise. I for one am glad to be past the decade of the cow and am excited and hopeful that this decade we will do away with celebrating cows – and pigs and goats and chickens and antiquated sewing machines and cottage industries – and celebrate instead the human being and … Read More »


Is organization an innate human trait or learned?

Posted on June 12, 2010 by Tara Thiagarajan in Blog, Writing. 2 comments

I’ve posted before thoughts on why the poor tend to be fragmented in their economic activity rather than organized into groups and it sparked some discussion (see Driving socioeconomic change by making women more dependent). I’ve been thinking now about the ability to organize in general. Our microeducation team at Madura just got back from the first pilot testing of our digital ‘mini MBA’ program. This is a video based training program that brings business education to the poor that has been developed in collaboration with Dr. Madhu Viswanathan at University of Illinois at Urbana Champagne and his Marketplace Literacy initiative. They tested with two different groups – one that was reasonably educated (10th or 12th grade) and one that was largely illiterate, and came back with some very interesting learnings. Here’s one: There are a couple places where the … Read More »


Driving socioeconomic change by making women more dependent

Posted on April 19, 2010 by Tara Thiagarajan in Blog, Microfinance, Writing. 6 comments

Yes, I meant to type dependent. Here’s why.

One of the great drivers of mankind’s progress has been our ability to specialize in our knowledge and functions, organize as groups or entities that share knowledge and create amazing things that no individual could do on his or her own. Done well, the outcomes of organizations are far greater than the sum of its parts. The most awesome things that mankind has created – jet planes, space stations, the power grid, they are all borne of interconnected, highly dependent networks of people. Our (Madura’s) women micro-entrepreneurs are the antithesis of this dependence. They are highly unspecialized and operate independently (women, only because that’s who we serve, but this applies to men too). These micro-entrepreneurs strategize, produce, market, manage accounts and do everything on their own. This means that they rarely … Read More »