“Why are we growing millet (their daily staple food)?” he asked.
The group replied, “Because we want big sacks of millet”
“Why do we want big sacks of millet?”
“So we can eat it.”
“Why do you want millet to eat?”
“So we will grow healthy and strong.”
He continued, “Now to the subject of our meeting today. We are translating the Bible into our language. Why are we translating the Bible into our language?”
He was right on target. We can so easily fall into the trap of focusing on just doing the activities we have always been doing. Our focus needs to be on the outcome, not only on the individual steps involved.
Results-based-Management (RBM) helps Bible translation and literacy teams to keep the projects we fund on track. How? By focusing on the end result, what they want to see at the completion of a project. The end goal is not simply a translated book, even though it is of great value. Rather, all involved long to see a community growing a strong and healthy faith, deeply rooted in the Word of God. And once planners focus on this goal, they can then trace backwards—step by step—to decide what must first be in place in order for this overarching outcome to be reached.
This past week, I was sitting with the administrators of PTGB, the Bible translation organisation sponsored by the Evangelical Church of Guinea-Bissau. As we went through the example above, I could observe that it suddenly made sense to them. Sure, they had attended sessions before about RBM, but probably thought it was merely the white man’s way of doing things. Now, however, they could see the connection between what the Church in Guinea-Bissau was trying to achieve and their own part in that big picture. The projects’ outcomes and activities had to fit into these necessary steps to reach the goal.
One day they (and we, their partners) will be able to say with confidence, “The people of Guinea-Bissau are growing a healthy and strong faith in Jesus Christ!”