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SPCSA and Salesian India - A Strategic Evaluation and Envisioning
By Mr. Conrad Saldanha
Mumbai, Feb. 9. In the context of a periodic evaluation of the SPCSA (Salesian Provincial Council of South Asia), it was thought appropriate, on this occasion, to also do a Visioning exercise for Salesians of Don Bosco, India.
SPCSA is a body, led by Father Maria Arokiam Kanaga, Regional Councillor, which brings together 11 Provinces as one body for common orientations and initiatives in the following areas viz. Education, Youth Animation, Mission, Communication, and Formation. Each of these areas functions with a Network Head. The concept of Network means the Network Head collaborates, intra - Network as well as Inter- Network, with the various relevant constituencies. Also the Network Heads interface with the Province Commission Heads and members to plan and implement programs and projects within the different Provinces.

Father Maria Arokiam Kanaga, Regional Councillor, SPCSA, appointed a Strategic Evaluation team comprising of Father V.M. Thomas (Chairman), Father Adolph Furtado, Father Noel Madhichetty, Father Thomas Pallithanam, Lourdes Baptista and Conrad Saldanha. The team was given a year to complete the Evaluation and Visioning exercise effective February, 2016.

Looking at the enormity of the exercise and its significance, a detailed proposal was drawn up. The Visioning for Salesians of Don Bosco, India would be done concurrently with the Evaluation of SPCSA.

The objectives of the Visioning exercise were to understand the necessary orientations and possible goals to be adopted, in the context of the Salesian identity, for Salesian India. This would include understanding the current perceptions of who should the Salesians be serving (target group), the Services currently being offered and any new Services which would need to be offered and whether a Change in Mindset is required to effect a greater impact.

The SPCSA evaluation would look at the Role expected of the SPCSA, its interactions with the Province Commissions, the Strategic focus needed, the Professionalism required in its structure, processes, people and communication.

The Overall Process of this exercise included the following stages:

a. In-Depth Interviews with the Provincials and Network Heads. These in depth interviews covered both the Envisioning for Salesian India and the SPCSA Evaluation.

b. Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) were also conducted among different constituencies viz. Youth, Parents, Parishioners, Alumni, Faculty, and Staff across all Provinces. The objective of these FGDs was to understand the perceptions and expectations of Salesians among the beneficiaries and the people whom the Salesians work with.

c. Based on the output of the FGDs, separate Questionnaires for the ''Envisioning'' part of the exercise were created to be answered by the respective constituencies viz. Salesians, Youth, Parents, Parishioners, Alumni, Faculty and Staff.

d. Based on the output of the In depth Interviews a Questionnaire was prepared for the SPCSA Evaluation, to be answered by the relevant Salesians.

The total number of responses (filled in questionnaires) received to date are 6056.

e. These responses were analysed and a Strategic Plan is in the process of being prepared and will be presented to the Rector Major and his team on March 1, 2017.

The learnings from such an exercise can be put into 3 buckets :

a. A better understanding of the Salesian Identity

b. Drawing up a Strategic focus for the Salesian Mission

c. Understanding how to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of people, structure, processes et al to progressively implement the Salesian Mission.

This exercise required an ''outside - in'' and ''inside - out'' mindset. The Salesians were willing to understand the perceptions which they have of themselves as well as the perceptions which people whom they serve and work with have of them.

They were willing to participate in a host of workshops which enabled them to understand the environment through Scenario Planning and drawing up priorities through the use of various templates like the 4 Actions framework and the Action Priority Matrix.

The exercise acted as an enabler which made the Salesians experience being participants in an all India process as well as facilitated among Salesians a sense of belonging not just to a Province but to an All India body.

But most of all it made the Salesians reflect on who they are, what is distinct about their charism and what should be the focus of their Mission.

The Salesians of Don Bosco aptly summarised the outcome of this exercise by stating that it was ''elaborate and comprehensive'', ''brought about self-awareness collectively as SDB India and as a Province'' and finally ''would pave the way for concrete future plans''.


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