A two-day event which included a lecture for all African Development Bank staff on “Delivering Results in a Complex Environment” and a discussion session for senior management was concluded with success on 23 March 2010. The lecture is part of AfDB’s Learning and Knowledge Series and was delivered by Michael Barber, former head of the Delivery Unit from 2001 – 2005 under the administration of UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Welcoming the guest lecturer, Vice President, Aloysius Ordu, noted the lecture was propitious as it coincided with the continued institutional renewal carried out within the Bank. Mr. Barber proceeded to deliver a presentation drawn from his book “Instructions to Deliver,” highlighting his experiences as a proponent of results delivery within the UK in various sectors including but not limited to education, transportation and healthcare.
One of the core messages of the lecture is that bold reform, accompanied by high quality execution of programs and projects, would invariably lead to successful delivery of results. Staff and senior management in such institutions are also able to accomplish significant and sustainable results with: the understanding that delivery is spurred by ambitious planning; focus on clear and sustained priorities; clarity of purpose and issues confronted; urgency to accomplish set goals; and ensuring irreversible transformation of “structure, culture and results.”
According to the lecturer, a good delivery unit, whether this be in a government or in an institution such as the AfDB, will establish targets that set measurable goals. It will also create plans that are used to manage delivery and set out key milestones and trajectories to be used in evaluating progress. The plan must respond to issues regarding delivery chain such as: accountability along the chain, key actions for progress, bringing stakeholders on-board, risk management, as well as the collection and use of appropriate and reliable data. Mr. Barber emphasized the role of modern data systems and the importance of creating and maintaining relationships with stakeholders in an effort to cement and nurture a results culture.
The use of “priority reviews” in verifying the reality of delivery at the frontline, as well as publishing of “delivery reports” that summarize progress on delivery are other crucial elements for a successful delivery unit. Problem-solving actions should also be devised in the event of less-desirable outcomes.
Noting that reform can only occur when there is an electoral mandate for reform, Mr. Barber underscored the need for effective communication, policy design underpinned by solid research and analysis, and cohesive leadership. “The condition of the policy regime to be reformed matters a great deal and successful reform requires time and persistence,” he added.
Mr. Barber, who mentioned that the aforementioned methods of effective results delivery had been tested and yielded positive outcomes in more than half a dozen countries in North America, Europe and Asia, emphasized the importance of innovation and international benchmarking as a way of solving results delivery problems.
Closing the ceremony, AfDB Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Nkosana Moyo, thanked the guest lecturer for his incisive delivery and commended the adaptability of his methods on the country level as well as in institutions such as the Bank for tangible progress in development efforts.