Jay Gribble | Medium - Aug 21 2018
Strategy Execution: What Works for Wall Street Needs to Work for Main Streets - Around the World

Palladium's Balanced Scorecard is a proven tool to drive corporate performance, but we're also using it for governments in the developing world. 

Corporate growth is linked to the successful implementation of strategies. Among the key characteristics of high performers in the corporate world are organizations whose strategy execution practices include the articulation of clear measures and benchmarks, a focus on a few key initiatives, regular meetings to report on and manage the strategy, and a clear communication plan. What works for Wall Street should also work for Main Street – in the capitals of the world’s developing countries. 

Governments in developing countries develop strategies with the intentions of advancing solutions to complex problems. In the health sector, for example, we come across strategies for strengthening health systems, reducing teen pregnancy, ending maternal mortality, delivering HIV treatment – to mention only a few. And in most ministries of health, strategies sit on shelves and gather dust because people don’t know how to translate them into action and results.

The Health Policy Plus (HP+) project, supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development, works with stakeholders in lower- and middle-income countries across a range of sectors to develop, finance, and implement strategies. In many countries, we have worked with family planning stakeholders to develop strategic plans referred to as Costed Implementation Plans (CIPs) to help them achieve the commitments they have made to Family Planning 2020 – a global initiative to help 120 million additional women and girls use effective contraception.

Drawing on tools and approaches developed by Palladium for the corporate world, HP+ has adapted these strategy execution tools to create three CIP execution tools:

1. The CIP map
2. The Priority Results Achievement Chart (PRAC)
3. The Performance Management Dashboard

These tools help countries manage CIP execution to achieve their family planning goals. The same key characteristics mentioned above are equally relevant for transforming family planning in developing countries.

Beginning with the CIP map – adapted from the strategy map – HP+ works with stakeholders to develop a one-page visual description of the CIP’s strategic objectives, showing how the strategic vision is achieved through mobilizing resources that support the coordination, supervision, and monitoring needed to deliver key elements of the family planning program (such as demand generation, service delivery, supply chain, and policy and environment) that lead to the priority beneficiary groups’ (such as women of reproductive age, youth, and men) obtaining high-quality services. Not only does the CIP map the interrelationships among the different parts of the CIP, but it can serve as a job aid – as Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health developed – to help providers and facility staff remember that achieving family planning goals is complex, requires many inputs, and that the work of each provider and staff member contributes to the strategic vision.

Priority Results Achievement Chart (PRAC)
Adapting Palladium’s balanced scorecard, which brings together the measures, targets and initiatives that deliver to the objectives, HP+ has developed the priority results achievement chart (PRACs), which links key results and measurable indictors to annual targets. The tool also includes the specific activities that help advance progress toward targets. In Mali and Madagascar, HP+ has worked with stakeholders to develop PRACs, along with basic data collection forms, so that as they can meet on a regular basis to monitor progress, they can be aware of which activities have been carried out, and track progress toward key results.

Performance Management Dashboard
A third new tool developed to support achieving family planning strategy goals is the CIP performance dashboard, which is a color-coded visual presentation of the CIP map to demonstrate progress on a regular basis along each of the CIP’s results areas. A challenge in many health systems is weak data systems to monitor progress. Nigeria, for example, manages its CIP execution with support from Palladium’s Technical Support Unit project; to facilitate CIP execution, the Federal Ministry of Health has revised the structure of its National Reproductive Health Technical Working Group so that it aligns with the CIP – thereby fostering accountability for progress within the key results areas, and using the performance management dashboard to keep stakeholders apprised of where advances are taking place, as well as the places where they need to redouble efforts.

Adapting best practices from the corporate world is a start for helping countries achieve their family planning goals, but tools alone don’t achieve results. A key element of HP+’s mandate is capacity strengthening. To support CIP execution, HP+ works with stakeholders to bridge the skills gap so that they understand how to use the tools, have guidelines for managing the strategy, and communicate with stakeholders about progress. HP+ has led the development of a resource kit to help countries effectively execute their CIPs and achieve the goals they have set for themselves. With the skills needed to execute strategic plans, health sector leaders are positioned to more effectively execute any strategy that improves the health and wellbeing of their populations – reducing HIV, immunizing children, and improving personal and public hygiene.

What works for Wall Street must have relevance on every street where governments and organizations make commitments to themselves and the public. HP+’s CIP execution approach build on Palladium’s tried-and-true methodology for the corporate sector but focuses on meeting the needs of ministries of health in developing countries. Through this work, HP+ is driving change and creating positive impact in several countries.

Achieving health-sector results can be difficult in the best of circumstances. Introducing these tools is helping countries better respond to the family planning needs of women and men, while using scarce resources more effectively. Given the resources invested in developing health sector strategies, it’s finally time that we turn attention to helping them translate those strategies into the results that save lives and strengthen health systems. Investing in family planning saves dollars – and makes a lot of sense.

This article originally appeared on Medium.com and was republished with permission.