I consult with a group of Central Asian leaders that desires to adopt and implement organizational best practices. The changes they are trying to make are inordinately difficult  because of the absence of local role models, unsupportive social structures, and governmental interference. It seems that everything around them hinders them. However, they desire that their organization has integrity and practices good stewardship.

Currently they are attempting to produce an expense budget for next year. Normally producing a budget for a small organization would be a relatively simple process – gather a list of expected expenses and group them into categories down the page and spread them into cost centers across the spread sheet. However, unlike most Western leaders, the Central Asian leaders have never worked with a budget and do not have an intuitive understanding of how a budget will help them or how to create one.

Last summer, I walked them through the budget creation process. After I demonstrated each step they split into their regions (cost centers) to begin thinking how they would apply that step. The process I gave them concludes with someone rolling the regional budgets into an organizational budget. Following the training event, their intention was to actually produce a budget by this fall.

Last week, I received the document they have created so far. It is a huge step forward, but falls short of a typical budget. This first attempt is a list of anticipated expenses; more like a funding project list than a budget. After reviewing their work, I was tempted to reformat the list into a spread sheet. Most of the needed information for a coherent expense budget was there. I know it would be much easier for me to do this than for them. However, if I do it, I rob them of the learning experience and of ownership of the final product. So, I carefully reminded them of what their next step should be and illustrated how the spread sheet should look using some of their data. I sent this back with a word of encouragement and assurance of my continued availability to help them.

I need to discipline myself to help them create their organization. I am committed to not do anything for them that they can do themselves. My job is to encourage, teach, and coach. It is their responsibility to actually do the work.