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Two weeks ago, I facilitated a session on strategy monitoring and evaluation for board members and senior staff of a financial institution. The institution is in the second year of their second 3-year strategic plan. Part of the board was visibly frustrated by the slow implementation process of some key projects as well as perpetual non-achievement of some key performance indicators, notable amongst them customer numbers and deposits growth.

This was the first monitoring and evaluation session the institution had held since they commenced formal strategic planning. In their words, they failed to hold a similar exercise in 2020 due to the COVID 19 pandemic related restrictions. Interestingly, despite one of the KPIs in the second strategic plan being implementation of a staff performance management system, none had been implemented. In addition, the board had not discussed the matter during any of their quarterly meetings.  In addition, performance management system as well as other KPIs had not been included in the annual board work plan.

Upon discovery of the foregoing, I was in no doubt that the strategic plan was simply gathering dust in a shelf within the company. I therefore guided the discussion towards the actions necessary to ensure that strategic initiatives and projects are implemented on time. For a start, the board needed to overhaul its work plan in order to include strategic plan review amongst its activities. In addition, the performance management system needed to be implemented as a matter of priority in order to align staff activities with the strategic plan. Lastly, there was need to ensure accountability and transparency at both the board and management levels in regard to progress. This would only happen if there was clear and regular communication on strategic issues with corrective action being taken in a timely manner.

This institution was a classic opposite of the cliché that “whatever gets measured gets done.” Through their failure to regularly monitor and discuss strategic KPIs, little effort, if any was made to ensure that appropriate actions were taken towards implementation. Worse still, due to lack of performance contracts, holding staff accountable for their action or inaction was not possible.

Dr. Weru Mwangi is the CEO & Lead Consultant at Ultimate Management Solutions, a firm specializing in training & consultancy in Finance, Governance, Strategy, Risk Management and Leadership Development.  He can be contacted on weru@umslgroup.com  

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