No matter where an organization stands on its journey, ensuring that its performance management practices are up to par can influence its progress. Done correctly, this could be the edge that sets it apart from the competition.
The KPI Institute (TKI), through the efforts of the dedicated members of The Global Performance Audit (GPA) Unit, has successfully collaborated with the Talent and Performance Management Department of the Tourism Development Fund (TDF) to evaluate the performance management practices of the organization. This evaluation encompasses various areas, such as strategic planning, corporate performance management, employee performance management, and organizational culture.
The TDF is a young organization established in Saudi Arabia in 2020 with the mandate of driving growth in the national tourism sector by enabling private investments. With nearly 200 employees, the TDF has set up a formal division dedicated to managing strategy and performance. It comes with specialized departments responsible for handling key processes like strategic planning, corporate performance management, strategic initiatives portfolio, organizational excellence, research, and insights. Similarly, people’s performance and organizational culture are guided by specialized teams.
The KPI Institute’s maturity assessment for the division adhered to a holistic approach in both project coverage and methodology. In terms of coverage, the following organizational capabilities were evaluated: strategic planning, performance measurement, performance improvement, employee performance culture, and organizational culture.
Figure 1. Integrated Performance Management Maturity Model | Source: The KPI Institute
Regarding the methodology, TKI’s Integrated Performance Maturity Model includes a review of formal procedures and other official documentation (outputs) and insights from employees in the organization obtained through surveys and interviews with key internal stakeholders. All findings were rated against best practices using a scoring methodology, and the final score positioned the TDF on maturity level IV out of V (see Figure 2).
Figure 2. Performance Management Maturity Level | Source: The KPI Institute
To read the full article and know more about the stages of a performance management system maturity assessment, download the PERFORMANCE Magazine Issue No. 27, 2023 – Government Edition now through TKI Marketplace.
Unlock best practices that drive success in the government sector with insights from the Tourism Development Fund’s performance management practices evaluation. Get your hands on the physical copy of the magazine via Amazon.
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Democratizing strategy planning refers to the process of involving various stakeholders of all organizational levels in the strategy formulation process. In the traditional approach, strategy planning is a top-down process formulated by selected stakeholders like the senior management and key decision makers. So, to make the process more inclusive and participatory, democratizing strategy planning comes into account.
One of the main advantages of democratizing strategy planning is that it increases employee engagement. Thomas, K. W. (2009) discussed in his paper “Intrinsic Motivation at Work: What drives employee engagement” that when employees feel that their voice is heard within the organization, they are more likely to feel connected and invested in the organizational success, which increases their motivation, commitment, and job satisfaction, and that means a lot for them as they feel more valued in the organization.
Another advantage of democratizing strategy planning is that it enhances ownership and accountability, which will be reflected in improved employee engagement, as employees who participate in the strategy planning feel a stronger sense of ownership and responsibility, which leads to extra accountability and willingness to go the extra mile in achieving the organizational objectives as per the psychological ownership theory, which emphasizes on the role of psychological ownership in influencing employee attitude and behavior which lead them to be more engaged, motivated and committed to their organization.
To implement democratized strategy planning, having and securing the leadership buy-in is crucial to its success, so it is necessary to present the benefits and potential of increasing employee engagement and fostering innovation in the organization.
After getting leadership buy-in, we need to define a clear scope of where employee inputs would be more valuable, which is recommended to be initiative-specific in the beginning to avoid any potential analysis paralysis. In addition, it is vital to develop a precise feedback mechanism to capture different stakeholders’ diverse perspectives and ideas and recognize and reward participation.
This process will take time to be implemented correctly without any issues, so it is essential to mention that continuous improvement is critical to reach a practical approach. A great starting point is attending the Certified Strategy and Business Planning Professional course by The KPI Institute. Learn more about it and secure your slot here.
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The distinction between divergent and convergent thinking was introduced by J.P. Guilford, president of the American Psychological Association, in the 1950s. Guilford and his colleagues defined divergent thinking as the ability to generate multiple alternative solutions to a given situation or problem (Runco, 2014). It is a useful technique for answering open-ended questions during brainstorming. Meanwhile, convergent thinking leads us to find the right answer as a consequence of previous logical steps and does not require much creativity.
In simpler terms, divergent thinking answers questions like “How can a brick be used?” whereas convergent thinking answers questions like “Who won the 1988 World Series?”
Strategy planning is a process that requires considerable thought from stakeholders. During the strategy formulation stage, executives may consider many possible options. A lot of information and data relevant to accomplishing the strategy have to be gathered, too. SWOT analysis, Porter’s Five Forces, or PESTEL analysis are used in the external and internal environmental scan, and multiple scenarios can be drafted before reaching a conclusion. All types of information relevant to the analysis are gathered: historical information as well as internal and external data.
During strategy planning, the opportunity to innovate emerges. Broad research, asking relevant questions, considering multiple perspectives, and generating new ideas all require the use of divergent thinking. Brainstorming sessions are examples of techniques where divergent thinking is applied and can be used to gather as many options as possible while exploring many paths, some of which may be unusual. Divergent questions may be asked, such as what happens if factor A does or does not occur.
Divergent thinking answers the questions with an open-ended task “How can we do this?” followed by multiple possible answers. Convergent thinking is then used to narrow down the “right” answers until a single answer is found. This is done by correctly diagnosing a problem, making the decision to adopt the most cost-effective strategic objective, and selecting the best strategy by weighing the pros and cons.
Both divergent and convergent are useful for the strategy planning process, as the former fosters creativity to generate original ideas and new possibilities while the latter enables concrete solutions to be identified. Ideas from divergent thinking are transformed into structured, feasible plans with convergent thinking. In a complex strategy planning process, it is best to adapt both—divergent thinking for creativity and innovation and convergent thinking for efficiency and structure.
Nancy Samir Ibrahim Khalil, who worked as a Strategic Planning and Performance Management Expert at the Ministry of Health and Prevention in UAE from December 2016 to November 2020, laid down the best practices in strategy planning for government agencies and tools that can improve performance in the public sector.
- What are the key trends that have shaped the public sector in recent years?
The key trends in the public sector have been shaped in several domains, such as sustainable development in energy, transportation, education, high priority healthcare topics, and services.
Add to that big data resources, digital economy, innovation, artificial intelligence, smart government, and space discovery. There is also advanced research in science, society, economy, and policy.
- What do the public services of the future look like?
Public services have been developed much in recent years, especially in terms of time management, quality assurance, well-trained staff, customer satisfaction and happiness meters, and smart applications that save time, effort, and money.
Public services will step up ahead new horizons through managing and designing variety, reachability, availability, efficiency, and interacting services. Add to that the digital and robotics services.
- What role will strategy planning and KPI usage play in this futuristic scenario?
Strategic planning and KPI usage are the mechanisms of every improvement that can ever be desired. In fact, what is not measured can not be managed. Entities need to track and evaluate very closely the efficiency and outcome of their plans, objectives, initiatives, programs, projects, services, processes, and activities by designing different types of KPIs with ambitious targets.
Good analysis, auditing, statistics, reporting of the performance of the plans, and using different systems and portals empower entities to accelerate and excel in futuristic scenarios.
- How is technology impacting the performance of government entities?
Well-built designed systems and smart apps can help maintain an excellent framework to easily manage entities’ strategic and operational plans, contents, and requirements.
Systems provide graphs, live charts, statistics, historical data, comparison, and performance status, which helps handle gaps, take relevant decisions and actions, and optimize resources. Technology saves time, effort, and money.
- What are your recommended best practices in strategy planning for government agencies?
There are many best practices government agencies can adopt. Some of them are fundamental for every entity, and some of them can be much related to the specialization, culture, or work environment of the entity.
- Periodic performance management revision meetings for strategic and operational plans with concerned departments
- Periodic analysis reports of the performance and KPIs results
- Periodic top management steering committee meetings to discuss the status of the performance on a higher level
- Visits to the entities that won excellence awards
- Workshops and presentations
- Training of strategy coordinators to follow up closely with their departments.
- The use of a project management system
- What key performance indicators should be reported for the successful delivery of public services?
KPIs should report the current situation of performance, whether it is good or needs more effort or bad. They should be coded with related colors (green, yellow, or red), along with solid analysis reports of the strength, weakness points, improvement areas needed, and recommendations with a timeframe to achieve. Dashboards also help a lot in generating quick results, important graphs, trends, and directions.
- What are the key performance management tools that any government entity should use to ensure performance improvement?
- SWOT and PESTEL Analysis
- Scenarios Planning
- Stakeholders Matrix
- Mind Maps and infographics
- Cause and effect analysis (ex. Ishikawa)
- Workshops and Presentations
- Systems and Dashboards
- Work forms
Among the challenges are:
- What are the biggest challenges that government entities face during the implementation and usage of a performance management system? Please provide your suggested solutions.
- The deadlines and the delay of submitting results and documentation,
- Resistance to change
- Poor strategy culture and knowledge inside the entity
- Inflexible administrative hierarchy
- The delegation of mandates and responsibilities of the concerned department (strategy development) to other departments
- Limited strategy team members
The solutions can be implemented by empowering the strategy department and giving them the needed authority, having enough specialized team members, using electronic systems in tracking and alerting, working closely with the management, addressing challenges and finding proactive solutions, raising strategy awareness, supporting and guiding other departments, and developing initiatives issues through accelerators.
- What are the crucial success factors in building performance and data-driven culture in the public sector?
- Trust and Confidence
- Knowledge and Specialization
- Time management
- Accuracy and documentations
- Numbers and Facts
- Addressing Needs and Priorities
- Evaluation and Monitoring
- What are the key competencies of a successful business leader in a government entity?
The competencies of a successful business leader are a reflection of the corporate values itself, such as transparency, commitment, credibility, integrity, trust, and teamwork. There are many examples of values that every entity adopts to control and organize corporate behavior and the work principles of employees and leaders.
Moreover, the leader should have a good vision, management competency, communication skills, and ability to build teams and solve problems. Besides, the leader should be a good listener, have an open-door policy, and be ambitious and positive. The leader must be empowering, encouraging, and decisive.
- What processes and tools do you look at when differentiating a successful performance management system from a superficial one?
There are some processes and tools that can be used:
- The mechanism of building strategy document, strategy, and operational plans
- The level of engagement of other teams of departments in designing and creating components of strategy
- Methodologies of tracking and implementing a strategy
- Mechanism of reviewing and evaluating plans, performance, and auditing results
- Periodicity presentations and meeting minutes of the strategy and performance
- Questionnaires’ results about strategy concepts and understanding.
- Other departments’ satisfaction rate towards the effort provided by strategy teams
- Proof of closing gaps and addressing recommendations within the deadlines suggested
- Project management system.
About the Expert
- Bachelor’s Degree, Double Majors in Econometrics & Social Statistics University of Khartoum – Faculty of Economic and Social Studies | Khartoum, Sudan – 2006
- Strategic Planning and Performance Management Expert | Ministry of Health and Prevention, UAE – Strategy and Future Department | December 2016 to November 2020
- Head of Strategic Planning Section | Ministry of Justice, Sudan – General Directorate for Development and Strategic Planning | April 2016 to December 2016
- Strategic Planning Specialist | Ministry of International Cooperation and Development | Corporate Development Dept. | April 2012 up to Dec 2015
- Customer Support Executive | Emirates Telecommunication and Corporation Company -.Etisalat, Dubai, UAE | June 2010 – December 2011
- Courses & Training: Creativity & Innovation, Strategic Planning and Strategic Thinking, PMP, Six Sigma, Change Management, Excellence Leaders, Institutional Excellence, Economic Analysis, Integration Strategies in Trade, Business English, TOFEl Course
This interview was first published in the 24th printed edition of PERFORMANCE Magazine. You can get a free digital copy from the TKI Marketplace here or purchase a print copy from Amazon for a nominal fee here.