Closing the strategy execution gap in the public sector : a conceptual model

Olivier, Anton J. (2015-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The importance of strategy execution to achieve organisational objectives is increasingly recognised. However, successful execution seems to remain problematic, not only in government, but also in the business world today. Because of the gap between strategy planning and execution, the required benefits stated in this planning are seldom realised. The consistent and generally poor execution of strategic plans in the public sector leads to poor service delivery. The objective of the research was to develop, test and further improve a conceptual model that can specifically be applied in public sector organisations (PSOs) to help close their strategy execution gap. According to the research hypothesis, strategy execution will significantly improve by using a simplified, dynamically integrated conceptual model as guide in tailoring strategy execution in each PSO. The qualitative Participative Action Research (PAR) methodology was used based on case studies in Namibia, including ministries, state-owned enterprises and local authorities. The literature gap was found to be the limited number of resources addressing strategy execution in the public sector and the limited number of sources presenting a multi-disciplinary or integrated model involving the whole organisation. Based on previous literature reviews and experience, the researcher developed his first conceptual model in 2006. After the development of four more models, the final MERIL-DE Model was arrived at in 2014 as conceptual model to help close the strategy execution gap in the public sector. Additional literature review and analysis of the public sector context, supported by ten case studies in Namibia over the eight year period (2006–2013), led to the MERIL-DE Model containing and integrating the nine vital strategy execution components. These are as follows: 1) Leadership, 2) Strategic Planning, 3) Project Management, 4) Alignment (with organisational elements), 5) Performance Management (containing the MERIL elements Measure, Evaluate, Report, Improve and Learn), 6) Drive (mostly internal motivation), 7) Engagement (through dialogue), 8) Risk Management and 9) Stakeholder Management. The first seven components were identified through literature review and the last two from considering the unique public sector context. Features of the model include the critical role of leadership, the need to clearly link strategy and projects, the important role of project management, the shorter review periods for both strategic and project plans, the need for an institutionalised quarterly strategy execution cycle and importance of engagement and motivated workforce. The MERIL-DE Model shows the need to build adaptive and sustainable organisations in a complex and challenging public sector. The conventional plan-and-execute processes have to be complemented by sense-and-respond capabilities through a system of Measure, Evaluate, Report, Improve and Learn – linked to Drive and Engagement – in which components are dynamically integrated. Each PSO, however, needs to develop its own unique or tailor-made MERIL-DE model. This tailored model is referred to as the “Stratex Car” to be designed and built by each PSO, considering its own unique conditions. The Strategy Execution Framework (SAF) is presented as tool to assess the strength of each MERIL-DE component with the Total Strategy Execution Capacity (TSEC) to determine the total capacity of the PSO to execute its strategy. It is believed that the use and application of the MERIL-DE Model will significantly contribute to close the strategy execution gap present in the public sector, not only in Southern Africa, but worldwide – to see governments and public organisations deliver real beneficial public service. Monitored application of this model will be valuable for future research towards the ongoing closing of the strategy execution gap.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Daar word toenemend ag geslaan op die belangrikheid van strategie-uitoefening om organisatoriese mikpunte te bereik. Suksesvolle uitoefening blyk egter problematies te bly, nié net in die regering nie, maar ook in vandag se besigheidswêreld. Weens die gaping tussen strategie-beplanning en -uitoefening word die voordele wat in die beplanning uiteengesit word selde ’n realiteit. Die konstante en oor die algemeen swak uitoefening van strategiese beplanning in die openbare sektor lei tot swak dienslewering. Die doel met die navorsing was om ’n begripsmodel wat spesifiek in publieke sektororganisasies (PSOs) toegepas kan word, te ontwikkel, te toets en te verbeter om die gaping in strategie-uitoefening te oorbrug. Volgens die navorsingshipotese sal strategie-uitoefening kenmerkend verbeter deur ’n vereenvoudigde, dinamies-geïntegreerde begripsprosesmodel te gebruik wat die strategie-uitoefening in elke staatsonderneming aanpas. Die kwalitatiewe deelnemer-aksie-navorsingsmetodologie (Participative Action Research) is in gevallestudies in Namibië toegepas, insluitende ministeries, staatsondernemings en plaaslike owerhede. Die gaping in die literatuur het geblyk die beperkte hoeveelheid hulpbronne te wees wat strategie-uitoefening in die openbare sektor en die beperkte hoeveelheid bronne wat ’n multidissplinêre of geïntegreerde model wat die hele organisasie betrek, aanspreek. Die navorser het in 2006 sy eerste begripsmodel ontwikkel wat op vorige literatuuroorsigte en ervaring gegrond was. Na die ontwikkeling van nóg vier modelle het die finale MERIL-DE-model in 2014 as begripsprosesmodel onstaan om die gaping in strategie-uitoefening in die openbare sektor die hoof te help bied. Addisionele literatuurstudie en -analise van die openbare sektorkonteks, ondersteun deur die tien gevallestudies in Namibië oor die agtjaarperiode (2006– 2013), het gelei tot die insluiting en integrasie van die nege strategie-uitoefeningskomponente in die MERIL-DE-model. Hierdie komponente is soos volg: 1) Leierskap, 2) Strategiese Beplanning, 3) Projekbestuur, 4) Belyning (met organisatoriese elemente), 5) Prestasiebestuur, 6) Dryfkrag (meestal interne motivering), 7) Betrokkenheid (deur dialoog), 8) Risikobestuur en 9) Belanghebberbestuur. Die eerste sewe komponente is deur literatuurstudie geïdentifiseer en die laaste twee deur die unieke konteks van die openbare sektor in ag te neem. Eienskappe van die model sluit in die kritiese rol van leierskap, die behoefte om strategieë en projekte duidelik te verbind, die belangrike rol van projekbestuur, die korter oorsigperiodes vir beide strategie- en projekplanne, die behoefte aan ’n geïnstitusionaliseerde kwartaallikse strategie-uitoefeningsiklus en die belangrikheid van betrokkenheid en gemotiveerde diensnemers. Die MERIL-DE-model wys die behoefte om aanpasbare en onderhoubare organisasies in ’n komplekse en uitdagende openbare sektor uit. Die konvensionele beplan-enuitoefenprosesse moet deur waarneem-en-reageervermoëns gekomplementeer word deur ’n stelsel van Meet, Evalueer, Rapporteer, Verbeter/ ”Improve” en Leer – verbind met Dryfkrag en Betrokkenheid/ ”Engagement” (MERIL-DE) – waarin komponente dinamies geïntegreer is. Elke PSO moet egter sy eie unieke MERIL-DE-model ontwikkel. Hierdie situasie-aangepaste model staan bekend as die “Stratex Car” wat deur elke PSO ontwerp en gebou moet word deur hul eie unieke toestande in ag te neem. Die Strategie-uitoefeningsraamwerk (sg. SAF) word as hulpmiddel voorgestel om die gehalte van elke ‘MERIL-DE’-komponent na te gaan te bepaal met die Totale Strategie-uitoefeningskapasiteit (sg. TSEC) om die totale kapasiteit van die PSO te bereken vir die uitoefening van sy strategie. Dit word verwag dat die gebruik en toepassing van die MERIL-DE-model kenmerkend kan bydra om die gaping in strategie-uitoefening wat aanwesig is in die openbare sektor die hoof te bied, nié net in Suider-Afrika nie, maar wêreldwyd – om te verseker dat regerings en openbare organisasies ware voordelige publieke diens lewer. Gekontroleerde toepassing van hierdie model sal waardevol wees vir toekomstige navorsing vir die verdere vernouïng van die gaping in strategie-uitoefening.

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