Capacity building techniques and challenges

By Henry Brown

Capacity building is a term with many different definitions. So how do we define it here? Well, first, let’s define ‘capacity.’ It’s the ability to experience, understand, and to do. In business terms, it is how agile and fluid a company is when facing marketplace challenges. When you ‘build’ capacity, it’s also known as capacity development. Essentially, it’s a conceptual approach that fosters an understanding of obstacles that stunt the growth of an organization while simultaneously achieving sustainable results.

Understanding what is behind capacity building techniques

Capacity building techniques are intrinsically linked with one particular resource within an organization. However, it isn’t a binary commodity like money or assets – it’s people. Every human has the capacity to grow, so everyone has the potential to gain from leadership capacity building.

Leaders have to realize that people want to grow and that remaining in the same place for too long can lead to stagnation. When people stagnate, the business they work in will stagnate. Therefore, leaders also have to realize that organizations too must have the ability to grow, realize potential, and need fresh approaches and ideas.

In the case of organizations, this can be in the form of fresh people. The modern world moves far too fast, and organizations of all sizes, including small businesses, must continually adapt to new scenarios. It’s not a case of waiting until something is wrong with an organization – it’s a case of continually evolving to prevent there being organizational issues.

So how do you do that? There is by no means a complete list of activities that could be labeled as the vade mecum of building capacity. However, it can be as simple as securing access to resources for people, offering training (either in-person or online), employing consultation such as business coaching, facilitating, expert advice and performing research. If you’re wondering what is consulting? Click on the link to read more about it. It can also involve building alliances with other organizations. It really depends on the resources of your small business, whether or not the organization recognizes where its underlying issues are coming from, and whether the organization needs help in starting up or, if established, needs stability.

Recognizing the potential and problems in human capacity building

Human capacity building is, by far, the best way to build capacity within an organization. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t without its pitfalls. Take, for example, managers and leaders. Despite a leader and a manager’s skill sets overlapping, both have one major difference: managers manage and leaders lead. Managers are dependent on stability. If things become imbalanced in your organization, you’ll face problems.

Why is stability important for managers? Because this allows managers to predict future needs. If management is imbalanced, it can, for example, see you overinvest and be left with wasted resources, or you may underinvest at a critical stage and leave the door wide open for a competitor to step in.

Compare that with the leaders who thrive in change. They move the organization forward to experiment with new products or services and explore new markets. If things stagnate, the leader is stifled.

So what do you do? Ultimately, you need to keep moving forward. So you put your faith in people. Leaders, particularly in HR, can cut through organizational lines and enact organizational change. It need not be imbalanced, but balanced and inclusive so as to include management.


Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop, he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.

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