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Saturday, 19 July 2014

Opening of the "Strategy into Action", 19 July 2013

Opening of the "Strategy into Action" for the Senior Executive Management Team of the Papua New Guinea University of Technology, in Madang from 19-21 July 2014.


This workshop is facilitated by Ralph Vossenberg MBA from "Greef, Vossenberg and partners". Ralph has a Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Delft University of Technology, and an MBA. He has over a decade experience working in various executive roles in multi-national companies (e.g. Unilever), and more than 10 years experience as an executive trainer and coach.

Ralph Vossenberg in action
This workshop is called "Strategy into Action" for the Senior Executive Management Team of the Papua New Guinea University of Technology. We will be here in Madang for a 3 days intensive workshop from 19-21 July 2014. As a result of this workshop, we will have a multi-year action plan together, based on a sound strategy. We are also here to learn to work as a team, and continue to train our skills. You will need to discard some of your cherished beliefs, and get out of your comfort zone. We are not on campus, so we can not be interrupted, and more importantly we take a physical distance necessary for some deep reflection.

It will be 3 days of hard work. First, a review workshop 17 May 2014. Then we will clarify and bring more focus the vision, mission and strategy of UNITECH. We will analyse and work on the organisational structure and setup, information flow, financial issues and budget, culture in the organisations, bringing bad news, operational framework for the next 12-18 months, KPI's and internal and external communication. As a result of the works we will have a list of actions, responsible owners, and milestones so that we can monitor progress.

Inspiring Examples

In 2009, I visited Kocaeli University in Izmit, Turkey. The purpose of my trip was to attend a conference on the effects of natural disasters, at Kocaeli University. In 1986, the city had been hit by a rain cloud filled with radioactivity from the Chernobyl disaster. In 1999, many cancer cases had developed. To make matters worse on 17 August a devastating 7.4 Magnitude earth quake hit the city killing around 17.000 people.

What I saw in 2009, was not a double disaster zone. The city was struggling to rebuild, but there was a new industrial park where university was conducting research. The university campus had been completely destroyed, but a new campus had been built on a new site. The postgraduate programs had been growing. The target was that each Masters thesis should be a publishable article (in a peer reviewed article), and each PhD thesis in engineering discipline should lead to a marketable, new product.

What I found in 2009 was a new campus with state of the art library, class rooms and lecture theatres, and campus wide broadband, reliable internet. Even more impressive there was a state of the art research hospital with 500 beds. I was shown around campus and the industrial park by the Pro Vice-Chancellor Academic. I asked him: "How did you do it in a mere 10 years after such terrible disasters?". The answer was essentially hard work, team work, network, sound strategy and sufficient investment. Hard work is required, but the positive results would energise all team members. They had been working hard for 10 years, and were not tired of it. There was also a good sense of team. In fact, the Rector (Vice-Chancellor) was not available, but the PVC Academic. Networking as important to organise the support from external stakeholders. Sound strategy was expressed in a limited number of Key Performance Indicators that everybody new. Finally, investment was done mostly by the Turkish state which was publicly committed to have one research intensive university per province. Universities can only finance themselves for 10-20% of their revenue, unless they have many billionaire alumni like Harvard University, or University of Oxford.

At UNITECH we had no radioactive cloud, nor an earthquake that destroyed the university. Why are we not at the same stage of development as Kocaeli University, which was completely destroyed in 2009?

Where to with Papua New Guinea University of Technology UNITECH?

Why is the campus infrastructure UNITECH in a bad state? Why are our administrative processes and systems not working adequately? Why has the staff not been trained? Why are may people not working in the correct place in the organisation? Why are departments understaffed, so many of our Faculty still not sufficiently qualified? We can think long and hard about it, and find all kinds of ultimate causes. The short answer, however, that inadequate leadership and incompetent, corrupt, and self-interested management over almost 2 decades did a lot of damage. Lack of investment was a consequence of a lack of trust the management was able to generate.

Can our team provide the leadership to make UNITECH fly? We can see the individuals in our Senior Executive Management team are sufficiently qualified and experienced, and are performing well as individuals. Now we must take the next step, and start to perform as a team based on a shared values, vision, and agreement about our mission, strategy, and specific actions and key performance indicators. I am convinced each team member can and will step up to the challenge.

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