The Government of Liberia’s Center for Innovation
As part of the Government of Liberia’s approach to addressing recent macroeconomic shocks including a drop in real GDP growth to -1.6 percent and a decline in net foreign currency inflows, President-elect George Weah’s administration is now responsible for continuing the austerity measures imposed by the International Monetary Fund. These steps include a hiring freeze outside health and education and a reduction in travel allowances.
Now, considering the number of challenges facing the incoming administration in health, education, and infrastructure, President-elect Weah’s government needs to immediately adopt a management approach that increases productivity without requiring additional resources, says Professor Larry Kennedy.
Larry Kennedy is a Liberian-born former banking executive who led dozens of productivity projects at J. P. Morgan Chase bank in New York City. Today, Mr. Kennedy is a professor teaching finance, project management, data analytics along with his role as a managing partner in a consulting firm based in the United States.
“The best strategy President-elect Weah’s transition team could put in place is to empower the workforce with basic continuous process improvement skills,” says Professor Kennedy. This strategy includes developing a team or an office that focuses on innovation and project management. Nearly every country has a center for innovation – it’s interesting to learn that Liberia doesn’t have such a center. This department will create tools that eliminate waste, improve service delivery, manage medium to large projects and improve civil servant’s productivity 100 times without requiring more resources.
Professor Larry Kennedy went on to say his ongoing research on international development projects reveal some glaring data that confirms why many projects in Africa fail to meet their stated objectives. One is a result of using the logical framework approach from the 60’s that do not fit the unpredictability of today’s globalized economy and African culture. “Governments need project management professionals who understand how to implement agility in the public sector.” The mechanisms of agility differ depending on whether you are looking at the short term or long term.
In the short-term, Professor Kennedy suggests utilizing the seven basic tools of quality. In the long-term, he indicates incorporating innovation into the new administration – this includes developing databases, creating mobile learning platforms, connecting all ministries electronically to share data, and investing in workforce training and development – all initiatives he has successfully developed over his career on Wall Street and academia.