The Minister of Finance in his presentation to parliament of the 2018 budget and economic policy of the government – titled Putting Ghana back to work, emphasized the need “ to make the SDGs flow through the DNA of Ghanaians in our efforts to meet the 2030 targets.” Without a doubt it is a call for transformation, however, executing the “Putting Ghana back to work program for 2018” will require a coherent, agile and responsive civil service that has the right organizational design to deliver the policy initiatives announced by the Minister of Finance.
This paper will submit that the policy statement was inspirational with the programmatic priorities (WHAT) but weak on the over-arching organizational effectiveness intent and investment priorities (HOW). In simple terms, the organizational effectiveness intent and investment priorities details how the civil service as a major delivery model will be resourced and transformed to drive policy design, execution, monitoring, evaluation, and learning.
The organizational design of the civil service can either be an enabler or show stopper towards delivering the policy and the policy statement could have outlined the strategic intent and investment initiatives to build the capability of the civil service to drive execution. It is hoped that this will become clearer as we interrogate the details of the budget statement in the coming days and weeks. We will like to pose two questions ie to what extent is the organizational design of the civil service aligned to the “Putting Ghana back to work” policy agenda? And secondly what is the level of investment that has been set aside to transform the civil service to align with the policy to become a world-class agency that can deliver the ambition of government?
Organizational Design As An Enabler
This writer will define organizational design as the combination of six key variables. These are values-driven performance management that reinforces the right organizational culture, integrity-centred knowledge management that ensures data-driven decision making, organizational model for managing centers of expertise, communities of thought leaders and management hubs, robust talent management system that has breadth and depth to reproduce talented leaders who also produce equally talented next generation transformational leaders and rigor in harnessing information communication technology.
According to Edgar Schein, organizational culture is made up of the core values, written and unwritten rules, procedures, outward appearances, reward and recognition systems, symbols, myths, stories, heroes and villains, status symbols, power structures etc which put together define the ‘way things are done here”. Is the organizational culture of the civil service robust and adaptive enough to deliver the strategic ambition and plan of government for 2018? The execution of the policy statement will require transformational leadership. Does the civil service have the right leaders who role model the values of integrity, accountability, and transparency? To what extent is this aspect of the organizational design factored into the policy statement?
From an organizational development perspective, the civil service machinery performs three key expectations to ensure the right talent is available to deliver government policy. The first is the flow of people ie having the right flow of people with the right skills is critical in any organizational design to ensure it buys (hires), builds (grow internal talent), binds(retains top talent) bounce (transition and separate) and borrow( outsource) the required talent and expertise in a transparent a-political manner? A major enabler is the compensation philosophy of the civil service which we submit needs transformation to ensure a coherent total rewards strategy.
The second expectation is the flow of performance which is to ensure a solid performance management system is in place to measure productivity. The mission critical importance of having the right organizational design of the civil service becomes pronounced when one considers the fact that 54% of government revenue finances public sector compensation which includes Wages and Salaries, and social contributions (pensions and social security). We need to have value for money from the civil service to ensure accountability and good governance and we think the time has come for government together with its social partners to start reflections on how to transform public sector compensation to ensure a proper harmonization of a coherent compensation philosophy, policy, system, and practice to drive successful execution of government policy.
The third expectation refers to flow of information to enable the availability of quality data to drive economic growth and prosperity. Knowledge management will be critical in the execution of the 2018 economic policy and will require optimizing data integrity and quality to drive decision making. Does the civil service have robust quality assurance capabilities to test the speed, rigor, and integrity of data during execution of the economic policy initiatives? Investing in the operational excellence of the civil service as part of organizational design, e.g the systems, ICT infrastructure, processes, procedures with the appropriate internal controls will be key to successful execution.
Putting Ghana To Work will require a civil service that delivers maximum impact for all Ghanaian citizens. We need a civil service organizational design that delivers innovation, agility, speed & rigor that leads to sustainable transformation. We need a civil service organizational design that strengthens transparency and accountability with a very high focus on customer satisfaction. The new organizational model of public-private partnership presents a business case for transforming the organizational design of the civil service to become a change agent, administrative expert and a business partner to the private sector.
We need a civil service organizational design that eliminates skills obsolescence and needless complexity. We need a civil service which is not subject to petty political patronage and partisanship. The civil service is the most strategic delivery model for executing the 2018 economic policy of the government and investing in its organizational design will position it as an enabler for transformation for the citizens of Ghana.
How much is government investing in the 2018 budget to transform the organizational capabilities of the civil service?
By Casely Ato Coleman, Human Resources & Organizational Development Practitioner