Moving from Development to Execution: Applying Lessons from the Corporate World to Execute Costed Implementation Plans
By Sara Stratton, Senior Technical Advisor, Family Planning, HP+
November 3, 2016
I spent the last two weeks at almost opposite sides of the globe—Seattle and Dakar—but the topic of focus was the same: how can we help countries develop and implement strong family planning programs. All too often we have seen beautifully written and formatted family planning costed implementation plans (CIP) launched and then sit on shelves or hide in laptops. Evidence shared by Palladium’s Consulting practice indicates that about 10 percent of organizational strategies are effectively executed. This is a frightening statistic if we think about all the resources (human, financial, and environmental) that are invested to develop CIPs. How can we contribute to improving the success rate? This is the question that Palladium and the Health Policy Plus (HP+) project are currently addressing.
I was privileged to share some new ideas about family planning CIPs with colleagues at the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition annual meeting in Seattle (October 10–14), alongside Suneeta Sharma, Director of HP+. Palladium and HP+ have created a new approach, and a set of tools, aimed at facilitating progression from countries launching their CIPs to implementing them—or execution. These tools are adapted from Palladium’s experience advising companies about strategy execution.
In our context of strategy development and execution, too often the CIP is considered “finished” when launched, but this is really only the beginning. Once the country’s CIP goal of a specified increase in modern contraceptive prevalence rate is announced, the journey along the road to achieving this goal can appear long, with many obstacles. Introducing CIP execution processes and tools can help focus countries’ efforts on the most important objectives and the interventions with greatest potential for high impact.
In Dakar, I was part of an HP+ team collaborating with the Ouagadougou Partnership (OP) Coordination Unit, Avenir Health, FP2020, the West African Health Office, USAID, and UNFPA on a workshop to introduce the CIP execution approach to a pool of experts based in the nine francophone countries of the Ouagadougou Partnership. As facilitators and participants, we discussed the challenges facing OP countries with CIP execution including government leadership and commitment, resource availability, and social opposition to family planning to name a few. We acknowledged that often CIPs represent the “the kitchen sink”—a complete and complex family planning program without clear indication of the “true” priorities of the Ministry of Health.
Using Niger’s CIP as an example, participants practiced developing a CIP map—a one page summary that articulates the CIP with a refined list of objectives that are catalytic to achieving the goal. The CIP map, along with several other tools, compels countries to make decisions to select key program priorities and facilitates increased transparency as the map is easy to share with stakeholders. This exercise led to an appreciation of the importance of prioritization and a focus on high impact practices, particularly in a context of limited resources and strong social opinions about family planning.
Strategic communication is essential for CIP execution and all agreed that it has been missing from CIP implementation. When shared as part of strategic communication, the CIP map is a tool for civil society to track government accountability. Equally important to accelerating execution is the sharing of progress or challenges; we need to know the status of CIP execution. The CIP dashboard, based on the map, holds great potential for enabling performance monitoring and greater stakeholder and civil society engagement.
These gatherings represent just the beginning. Now the hard work begins as we return home and endeavor to put into practice what we’ve learned. This set of tools, adapted from corporate experience, is gaining traction in the nine countries of the OP, along with Nigeria and other countries in Africa and Asia, and HP+ and Palladium will continue to assist experts with translating learning into action. We believe the CIP execution approach can help countries achieve their goals, meet their OP and FP2020 commitments, and ultimately increase access to family planning, leading to improved health.