The Leadership Capacity Trust is a charity which delivers capacity raising to the public service of middle income countries. This document describes the new focus of this activity. Please contact us is you would like to learn more, or to support this activity.
Globalisation and economic development both generate sweeping change. Organic and stable development entails balance on three fronts, for whilst economic potential tends to be exploited quickly it must be supported by matching institutional and social adaptation if it is to be sustained.
Fast economic growth dilutes existing sources of wealth generation very quickly: in ten years, perhaps half of all former pillars of the economy can expect to be superseded or replaced. Social change is, however, measured in near-generations, whilst institutional alterations are often slower still. The capacity - the training, the insight - that allows for purposeful adaptation in the public sector is often absent.
The Leadership Capacity Trust (LCT) sets out to develop the capabilities and understanding of senior public sector workers. We began to do this across a broad front, both in terms of the subjects that we addressed and the nations which we sought to serve.
This is, however, a very wide remit for a small organisation. We are, therefore, focused in three ways.
First, we concentrate on nations which are both undergoing industrialisation and which are too small to solve these issues for themselves.
Second, we focus our operations through regional partnerships based on linguistic and cultural considerations.
Third, we provide insight on the external environment in which our clients find themselves. We provide help in understanding specific issues of law and obligation, as these flow from treaties and other international agreements. The scope and scale of such agreements can only increase. Direct technical assistance is supplemented by training in how such sweeping, multi-stakeholder issues are best addressed. We work to develop self-help and discussion networks amongst our alumni.
The following describes how we intend to proceed with this project. We hope to have three operational centres in place within five years, and to have established a network of debate and information interchange amongst thousands of senior clients.
The LCT was established in 2001. Its purpose is to expose public sector managers in developing countries to both best practice in their field, and to the problems and insights of their peers. The need for such a service is self-evident, and extremely welcome where we have been able to deliver it.
It has proven clear, however, that this concept is rather too general to be managed easily, and to explain convincingly. There needs to be a sharpening of focus, based on what we have learned. This note outlines the way forward.
There are three ways in which the LCT offer needs to be tightened.
First, the differences between the industrialising and the poor countries are so great that we must focus entirely on the one or the other of these.
Second, the LCT needs to offer a recognisable, specific service rather than a worthy but generic program. It is not feasible to take on a boundless list of potential topics - for example, health management and training for central bankers - and retain a clear brand. Our effectiveness and our access to the "right" people depends on appropriate brand recognition.
Third, cultural distinctions are such that regional segmentation is essential. Some form of regionalisation is also unavoidable on grounds of cost and effective organisation. Partnership with regional centres of excellence offers direct access to networks and to a credible presence, offers physical facilities and affords recognisable continuity.
We propose the following solution to these issues.
Country focus: Experience shows that our clients need a basic level of education and awareness before they can benefit from workshops. In addition, those who do achieve personal development are often thwarted by the intractable muddle in which they find themselves when they return home. These problems are generic and chronic to the poor nations. By contrast, participants from the industrialising countries almost invariably are able to make significant personal progress, and seem able to take practical steps with what they have learned when they return to post.
Recommendation 1: that the focus is shifted to servicing the policy needs of the industrialising nations. Larger nations - such as Brazil - probably have sufficient internal resource and it is, therefore, in the smaller countries where the greatest good can be done. These small, industrialising nations should constitute out future focus.
The offer: Workshops have surfaced a constant theme. Participants are usually senior figures, and their work-load is concerned with complexity management and communication. Most feel that they lack the techniques and tools by which to handle this. Crucially, as a consequence of accelerating global integration, they are confronted by extremely complex international agreements. In addition, the international environment is changing swiftly, and most feel ill-equipped to take these events into account. The issues which are raised often involve several branches of government, which often share only weak communications and limited trust.
Countries frequently lack the internal resource to handle the implications of the agreements to which they become signatories. Senior public servants have insufficient time to learn about the issues, even where this resource does exist. There is almost always a gap in the processes of communication and foresight by which such agreements are implemented. Each nation must, of course, finds its own way through these issues. Nevertheless, programs which tackle these new technical concerns from a perspective which addresses the problems of communication and implementation will, without doubt, be of great help in achieving this insight.
Recommendation 2: that the LCT should offer interpretation of international agreements and events that directly affect policy makers in the industrialising countries. Each workshop, despite tackling a distinct issue, should offer a mixture of interpretation and access to tools.
It may well be that occasional events try to bring the individual issues into the context of changing environment as a whole, and these could become significant regional events if managed properly.
Regional focus: The smaller industrialising nations can be clustered into four broad groups: the Caribbean, South America, Pacific Asia and the Mediterranean-Middle East. Each of these regions have institutions which could serve as partners. The LCT should focus on one initial region, prove the concept of partnership and then extend this to other regions, replicating a successful formula and also achieving scale economies.
Regional partner organisations should be influential, independent, non-advocative and apolitical policy-oriented institutes: business schools or think tanks. They should not be large, lethargic academic entities. The LCT should develop a local liaison office, with a small staff which is tasked to work with a selected partner, both to develop courses but also to handle participation and logistics.
Language, the facts of established relationships and European interest would point to an initial Caribbean base, and a promising institute in Suriname has been identified for the purpose. Thailand and Malaysia have equivalent entities, as does Costa Rica. Further research is needed in the Islamic region, where independence is usually hard-won.
Recommendation 3: Create a contractual relationship with a solid regional institution, and develop a working style which can be transplanted to a succession of other centres.
This section outlines some general concepts, before turning to a concrete operations and resource plan.
The LCT is a charitable body, and its income is derived chiefly from ex gratia support. Recent experience suggests that track record is crucial in winning this support. In order to establish this situation, the first phase needs a donor which will assume the full cost of operations, therefore, whilst future funding can seek multiple sources, as well as funding from donor bodies. This also points to a one-region start-up that offers the complete product.
Costs are addressed in detail below. Participants in the LCT come from relatively wealthy nations and they are expected to meet at least some of the costs. Major events - regional congresses, at which the 'big picture' was revealed - might well be profit making.
The LCT will agree an annual program and budget with the centre(s) with which it has an agreement. We should aim for six workshops a year per centre, each with 20-30 participants. Programs would take a working week, including weekend travel time. Some events might be longer: for example, it would be sensible to add a module on planning and communication to a topic-specific week. Related training modules could be developed specifically to be 'bolted onto' relevant workshops: developing regulatory excellence, anti-corruption techniques; and so forth. However, participant time will be at a premium and extended trips from their desk may not be possible. The use of distance learning, mentoring and the like needs to be investigated.
It will take at least two years to refine the "centre" approach, such that it can be cloned elsewhere. Each new centre will require the LCT to recruit a liaison figure, probably locally. However, it may well be that existing, experienced liaison staff would be ideal to help in the establishment of new centres. Recruitment should bear this in mind, both with respect to both language abilities and personal mobility. The LCT central staff will be kept to a minimum.
The sequence of establishing Caribbean, Latin American and Asian centres will be complete within five years, although the newer centres could still be learning how to operate in their milieu. Further developments - in the Mediterranean area, in bringing in nations such as Nigeria and South Africa - would probably have to wait until this learning was complete. This said, a full and mature network could be in place within six years, or by 2008.
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