Change Management in Emerging Economies

Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation Required in Emerging Economies

This blog is the 4th of a 5 part series:

This series provides more context to the change management situation experienced in emerging economy governments, like those in Latin America and the Caribbean.

It is often assumed that the most important critical element of a successful government digital transformation project is capacity building. This idea is a bit amorphous by containing all sorts of concepts like skills, training and maturity. We often see major efforts in Public Financial Management (PFM) training funded by donors which often precedes any design or implementation of Government Resource Planning (GRP) solutions. We believe that capacity building and change management are tightly linked. Efforts for one, without the other, are doomed.

Why is Capacity Building Not Enough?

Focus on a Core Group

This increases capacity among a small group of public servants creating a struggle between the untrained and the elite.

Focus on Best Practices Rather Than Correct Practices

This creates delays and complications through the implementation of so-called “best practices” rather than good practices that make sense in context.

Focus on Training

This develops theoretic knowledge rather than practical knowledge leaving public servants unable to abstract learning into practice, especially when the training is focused on PFM without project management, change management and technology in the curriculum.

Why is Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) Better?

Organizational change management following the PDIA approach is usually more successful in difficult circumstances in emerging economies.

The change management lessons coming from practical experience include:

  • Stories combined with statistics provides compelling persuasion while stories without statistics or statistics without stories are pointless
  • Leadership in successful projects is exercised by many people who act as change agents, the notion of a hero leader is a myth – the primary role of senior leadership is to give authority to change agents
  • High capacity in reform design and low capacity in reform implementation is a recipe for disaster
  • Change needs to be planned, organized and executed – not as a ceremony – it must be a robust engagement strategy
  • More effective learning comes from doing, rather than training
  • Making time for learning is part of organizational change management where learning sustains change and change provides more opportunity for learning

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