Organizational Health June 29, 2021

Strategies for Building an Organisation with a Soul

Hope Chigudu, Rudo Chigudu

In this creative and accessible toolkit, Hope Chigudu and Rudo Chigudu introduce new ways of thinking about how organisations can operate effectively and with meaning, drawing on their own histories as African women’s rights activists. 

The authors use the idea of ‘soul song’ – a song that pregnant women in the Beinika clan composes and sings to the unborn baby – to capture the idea of the culture in an organisation that motivates and energises people, and brings people into rhythm. The guide encourages the readers to think of organisations not just in terms of the mission, but in terms of the individuals they bring together, and the work they do together.  

“Wellness is not an additional responsibility or luxury. It’s actually the work. It’s about an organisation being so well that it has the energy to produce sustainable results for its constituency. It’s about enabling all of us to break free of limits created by power dynamics, resentment, suspicion and brokenness.”

Presented in a conversational format, the stories, conversations, questions, and activities in the guide are designed to prompt readers to consider issues they might not have thought of before, and to reflect – individually or in groups – about the implications for their own work. 

  For those with less time, the authors set out their ideas as a short dialogue between Hope and Rudo, which could be used to kick off conversations in any organisation. They also include two case studies, developed by drawing on real but combined experiences from a range of organisations. The first case study speaks to what happens when activists do too much, when they lose their joy in the doing and see only work and deadlines. The second describes efforts to build a collaborative, creative organisational culture, but also how this organisational soul song might wither. The authors suggest a number of activities that can be used to explore and respond to resistance – starting with small changes to current practice, opening up about undiscussable issues, making space for diversity – and can be used to ensure that the different individuals involved are acknowledged and supported along the way. 


You can access the complete toolkit by Hope Chigudu and Rudo Chigudu here.