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It seems that more and more authors are writing about the failure of and diminishing importance of strategic management. Numerous surveys are quoted to indicate that between 50 percent and 75 percent of strategies fail. 

A different point of view is that the speed of change is so high that the longer term strategic planning is unable to address the future comprehensively and must be replaced with shorter term planning.

Maybe both of these views show a limited perspective and understanding of what strategic management at its deepest level is and what it really entails. Let us consider just four often misunderstood issues about strategic planning.

Strategic planning is done at fixed intervals e.g. annually or every 3-5 years.

Strategic management documents or plans – yes they often end in a drawer – are usually compiled at fixed intervals. These documents are actually only the minutes of a special meeting. Compiling the document must however not be confused with the purpose and process of strategic planning and having a document called a strategic plan does not mean you actually have a strategic plan. Strategic management requires ongoing monitoring of the issues that were discussed, the conclusions that were drawn and the objectives that were set – and that were summarised in the strategic planning document - in relation to realities faced on a day to day basis. Strategic plans are statements of intent based on the expectation at a specific time of what lies ahead, and must be adjusted as required by new realities faced.

Strategic planning requires a large numbers of people.

It seems as if some organisations in South Africa confuse strategic planning and Indaba’s. At an Indaba everyone is welcome and by their presence they are seen as having participated and effectively accepted the outcome. Strategic planning is actually a process where key people can speak openly about anything without any fear of retribution or “upsetting” one of their seniors. If the most junior participant does not honestly feel free to speak, the session cannot be seen as a strategic planning session.

Special exercises must be done or documents completed to develop a strategic plan.

There are books of templates and exercises available that should apparently be used for strategic planning. One example contains more than 80 tools! If this approach is used, strategic planning often becomes a paper driven exercise and the plan only a list of exercises completed. Strategic planning requires integrative thinking and the exercises are in effect just “checklists” or prompts of things to consider when discussing current realities and anticipated futures.

It worked for company X, so it will be ideal for us.

A number of organisations fall into a trap of “fad surfing” or following approaches published as the new solution for everything. With strategic planning, as with most things in organisations, there is no one size fits all approach. 

Conclusion

It is clear from the above that strategic planning requires honest and unique consideration of; what works / does not work, what can be / should be achieved, what the company has / does not have and many more aspects regarding the future position of the organisation. Only once the future position has been thoroughly debated and reviewed can any decisions be made or broad based planning done. This must however be done with the understanding that plans might, will more than likely have to, change. Changing a day to day plan does not mean that the plans for the future positioning of the company has failed.

Deciding to go on an overseas holiday (strategic plan) by boat rather than previously anticipated aeroplane does not make the long term plan to go overseas a failure.

Delivered by Mr. Gyan Chandra Acharya, under-secretary-general and high representative for the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing states]

I am pleased to send greetings to all participants at this important event. I thank Bangladesh, Benin, the Netherlands and Sweden for organising it.

I congratulate Member States for adopting an ambitious and transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This is a plan of action for or planet and all people. We have collectively committed ourselves to furthering sustainable development by eradicating poverty, protecting our planet and achieving a life of dignity for all.

With the SDGs, our pledge is not only to finish the work we started with the MDGs but to embrace a truly ambitious agenda to eradicate hunger, poverty, and preventable child deaths. Such is the level of ambition of the new agenda.

But ambition alone is not enough. Words, however noble, need to become deeds. Implementation will be the litmus test of the new agenda.

Nowhere will this be more important than in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), where challenges are greatest. After many years of stagnation and low growth, LDCs are now achieving encouraging economic progress with some signs of structural transformation. The new agenda provides the opportunity to build on this encouraging signs to pursue sustainable development.

I urge you to keep the political momentum alive so that we can translate words into action. We must rally international solidarity and a stronger global partnership for development, mobilizing civil society, the private sector and others.   It will be essential to engage in the High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development – the central review platform for the agenda – to keep the focus on implementation. 

Inspired by their adoption, let us pledge to realise all the SDGs, and usher in a life of dignity for all.

For more about United Nations, refer to www.un.org.

 Human Rights and the HIV Response -  Eastern and Southern Africa

A rapid assessment of human rights violations in the context of HIV, in the Eastern and Southern Africa region, and a review of current approaches to protecting and promoting human rights for an effective HIV response.

Key populations, specifically people who sell sex (PWSS), people who inject drugs (PWID) and lesbian, and gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people experience significant human rights violations which underpin the continued high HIV incidence in these populations.

Even in the generalised epidemics in southern and eastern Africa key populations remain particularly vulnerable: only in sub-Saharan Africa do studies show HIV-prevalence amongst female sex workers higher than 50%; in Tanzania despite a declining HIV-prevalence in the general population (currently 5.6%), amongst PWID HIV-prevalence remains sustained and high at 35%; and men who have sex with men (MSM) in Africa are estimated to be 3.8 times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population. This sustained and high burden of HIV is intimately linked to the denial of these key populations’ human rights.

This rapid assessment of human rights violations in Eastern and southern Africa focuses on three priority key populations

– PWSS, LGBTI (including MSM), and PWID. The report outlines the normative international treaties that establish a basis for a human rights framework for the HIV response.

This requires a focus on the legislative environment and the development of programmatic responses to ensure populations are able to realise their right to health. As will be evident, despite commitments internationally by states to the realisation of rights of all people, these are not translated into national policies and programmes. This report explores the emerging evidence of how to promote and protect human rights of key populations and potential key entry points. 

About HEARD

HEARD is a leading applied research centre with a global reputation and through its research, education programmes, technical services, partnerships and networks, leads the dialogue in addressing the broad health challenges of Africa.

Our aim is to shape public health policy and practice to address health inequalities in Africa by catalysing, conducting and disseminating innovative research on the socio-economic aspects of public health, especially the African HIV and AIDS pandemic.

For more about HEARD, refer to www.heard.org.za

For more information, click here.

Your birthday is a celebration of life. Why not use the special occasion to give back?

By pledging to make a donation to Doctors Without Borders/MSF to honour your birthday you not only increase awareness of our work, but also save lives. A donation of this kind extends the goodwill of the occasion far beyond the day itself, helping to ensure emergency medical aid for people in crisis situations around the world.



 

How do I make a pledge?

You can make your pledge by clicking here and entering your details. You can also make a pledge by sending an email to donorservices@joburg.msf.org and letting us know when your birthday is and how much you would like to pledge.

How much should I pledge?

It’s up to you. A gift of R50 can provide vaccination and lifelong protection from measles for more than 30 children. R500 can provide first line ARV treatment for a child with HIV.

Is the pledge recurring?

The pledge can be for a single birthday, or you can make it a recurring gift. You may also make a pledge to give on an ad hoc basis, as and when you can.

For more information about Doctors Without Borders/MSF, visit: www.msf.org.za

Not long ago, AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria looked unstoppable. In many countries, AIDS devastated an entire generation, leaving countless orphans and shattered communities. Malaria killed young children and pregnant women unable to protect themselves from mosquitoes or to access the right medicine. Tuberculosis unfairly afflicted the poor, as it had for millennia.

Partners in global health came together, to fight back. By working together, by pooling resources and expertise, and by involving people affected by the diseases, civil society, the private sector and governments, we have made progress way beyond what seemed possible.

Today, the Global Fund issued a Results Report, showing that health investments made through the Global Fund have saved 17 million lives, expanding opportunity and achieving greater social justice for families and communities worldwide. Even better, the report shows that advances in science and innovative solutions are accelerating progress at an ever faster-rate, getting us on track to reach 22 million lives saved by the end of next year.

But it’s no time to celebrate. We are only half way there. Tremendous challenges in global health still await us. Adolescent girls are contracting HIV at a terrible rate in southern Africa. TB/HIV co-infection is on the rise, as is multidrug-resistant TB. Gains made against malaria could be lost if we don’t expand prevention and treatment programs.

We have to concentrate on several key areas, including focus on adolescent girls and women, advancing human rights, and building resilient and sustainable systems for health.

Many more lives are still at risk. We must seize the momentum, embrace ambition and move faster to end HIV, TB and malaria as epidemics. Let’s remember that it has been a magnificent display of the human spirit that has gotten us so far. The greatest reward for this collective achievement lies not in the massive number – 17 million – but in the impact every life saved has for a loved one, family, friend, community and nation.

A life saved from AIDS is a mother who can raise her daughter and teach her about staying safe from HIV. A life saved from TB is a father who can return to work and earn a living to support his family. A life saved from malaria is a child who thrives beyond her 5th birthday and becomes a doctor, or perhaps the next President of Liberia.

The achievements of the Global Fund partnership are the results of determination to make our world better and more just, with contributions by governments, civil society, the private sector and people affected by HIV, TB and malaria. The people whose lives have been saved owe their thanks most of all to the partners on the ground, who do the hard work of preventing and treating and caring for those affected by these diseases.

As world leaders gather next week to formulate Sustainable Development Goals, as building blocks for improving the lives of billions of people, the achievements of global health can serve as a model for what can be achieved when communities come together and aim for common goals, like a world free from the burden on AIDS, TB, and malaria.

- By Mark Dybul, first published in Voices

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