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An Agenda for Organizational Change 1

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Lifting UNDP performance from
Good to Great
An Agenda for Organizational Change 2


UNDP is a strong and effective organisation; but we cannot afford to be complacent. The external
environment poses many challenges; our understanding of how best we can support countries achieve
their development ambitions continues to evolve; and there are high expectations from our partners to
demonstrate impact and value for money.

UNDP’s performance is good – and I have been privileged to see time and time again the real impact we
can have on the lives of the poor in countries across the world.

But we need to lift our performance from good to great if we are to stay ahead of this rapidly evolving

It is essential that UNDP operates as a forward looking organization – an organization which has clear
strategic priorities where it can demonstrate impacts; and an organisation which can continuously adapt
to changing circumstances and refine its priorities accordingly.

This agenda for organizational change outlines the next phase of the program of change to shift us to a
future state where UNDP is positioned at headquarters and regional service centres to more effectively
support our country offices to deliver visible, consistent impact on the ground. This program builds
from and will, in future, encompass projects already underway from our Action Plan.

We are building from a strong base. I have personally witnessed the commitment, the dedication, and
the passion which UNDP staff have for this organization. Now we will need to harness that energy at all
levels to move forward and ensure we are strongly positioned to meet the development challenges of
the 21st century. In doing so, we will also create an organization in which staff themselves feel satisfied
and are empowered to contribute effectively.

While the directions for change are clearly outlined, we will need to work collaboratively within and
across bureaux on the details of implementation to make change happen. I hope that staff will engage
actively in discussions and in the implementation programme.

I look forward to working together with you to build an even better, stronger UNDP.

Helen Clark
UNDP Administrator
April, 2011
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NDP’s mission is to be widely acknowledged as a world class, knowledge-

U based development organization which helps developing countries make

transformational change and helps channel the strengths of the entire
UN development system to that end.

UNDP helps countries determine their own futures. UNDP supports countries to pursue
human development – development that is about improving people’s lives, based on
equitable and inclusive growth, enhancing resilience, and ensuring sustainability for
people and the planet. In doing so, it supports countries make progress towards the
Millennium Development Goals. In order to help improve people’s lives UNDP focuses
on helping people to participate fully as stakeholders, get access to the opportunities
and services they need, and have a meaningful say in decisions that affect their lives. In
delivering its programmes, UNDP focuses on capacity development. UNDP currently
delivers on average an annual five billion dollar programme in 166 countries through
135 country offices. UNDP also has a key role in leading UN development co-ordination.

An organization positioned to meet the development challenges of

the 21st century
Fiscal and other circumstances have altered in most of UNDP’s traditional donor
countries. As well, UNDP has received a clear message from key donors that its future
funding is at risk if significant reform steps are not taken to improve the way we
function. Going forward, we will need to be more cost effective, efficient, responsive,
and nimble to retain our leading role in what is now a very crowded development space.

Over the past year UNDP has been implementing an Action Plan to improve
performance in a number of areas. Some good progress has been made. But now
UNDP needs to accelerate the rate of change.

For UNDP to succeed in the 21st Century, it must deliver visible, consistent impact at the
country level.

It must be future focused to play a leading part in helping respond to and shape the
global development agenda, and adopt integrated approaches to key development
challenges such as achieving inclusive growth, poverty reduction and sustaining good
governance while addressing the environment and climate change.

It must adapt to the evolving financial landscapes for development.

It must be a unified, efficient and agile organisation, which can continuously adapt to
changing circumstances and country specific contexts, and can make strategic decisions
about the areas in which it can best make a difference.

UNDP’s programme delivery must be supported by excellence in integrated policy and

corporate services.
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Therefore, in order to lift performance from good to great UNDP will, over the next
twelve months, move demonstrably towards:

 Focusing on a set of strategic priorities and demonstrating effectiveness in them;

 Being an intellectual leader on global development issues, and being able to translate
policy to solutions in different country circumstances; and
 Strategically planning for and maintaining an increased range of partnerships, and
accessing new financial opportunities to achieve greater impact.

Moving Forward
To achieve more effective programme delivery at the country level, UNDP will embark
upon a multi-faceted agenda to lift performance. This reform agenda will focus in the
first instance on headquarters and the regional service centers - to sharpen UNDP’s
strategic focus, reduce the operational burden, and to ensure that country offices
receive effective, integrated support and services to deliver visible results on the
ground. It will build from UNDP’s strengths and integrate key elements of the Action

This agenda focuses on four inter-related areas:

A. Improved governance within UNDP

B. Improved organizational effectiveness
C. Lifting leadership, culture, and behaviour
D. Effective programme delivery

• Setting strategic priorities

• Integrated Budget framework
Improved Governance • Clear and strategically focused decision making
• Clairty of functions and accountabilities

• Strategic role for all bureaux Effective

Improved • Integrated crisis prevention and recovery
Organizational • Value added corporate services Programme
Effectiveness • Strategic and high quality policy services
• Organizational strategies which properly align incentives

• Leadership values and behaviours are clear

Leadership, Culture and • Accountabilities captured in performance agreements
Behaviour • Improved communciation and transparency
• Strengthened performance management system
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UNDP is governed by an Executive Board - the body which makes the ultimate decisions
regarding the organization’s strategic plan and the budget. The Administrator is
responsible for leadership and management of UNDP in line with the Board-agreed

UNDP’s internal governance structures will facilitate strong oversight of its strategic
agenda and provide the capacity for UNDP to recognize and respond flexibly to
emerging opportunities and change. UNDP will operate as one organization with a
coherent focus and mission. Staff, no matter what role they play in the organization,
will be clear about that mission and will understand how what they do is linked to and
contributes to it.

Clear Strategic Priorities

Within its broad human development mandate, UNDP will identify its strategic priorities
in order to more effectively contribute to helping countries pursue their development
goals. These priorities will be developed from the knowledge of what is needed on the
ground and will be understood throughout the organization. Decisions at all levels will
be driven by this shared understanding of what is most important. UNDP will be able to
demonstrate the achievement of specific results in these identified priorities.

The Management Group will have the function of regularly identifying strategic
priorities to provide focus to all parts of the organization. These will be the areas
against which UNDP expects to deliver substantial and measurable impact and against
which its performance will be judged. Priorities will be established for 3-5 years and
reviewed annually. Organizational resources will be aligned to support their

Integrated budget framework

UNDP will develop an integrated budget that enables resources to be considered

collectively - for the first time bringing together a unified framework of core and non-
core resources while continuing to report as required to the Board. This will enable
internal resource allocations to be more tightly aligned with agreed priorities.

The integrated budget framework will capture all resources (core and non-core) for the
purposes of more strategic resource planning and monitoring.

A strengthened budget and results based resource allocation process will be developed
to support:

 resource allocation in line with strategic priorities, so that the balance of allocations
are determined by needs and results
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 flexibility to provide a differentiated service and presence; and

 capacity to respond to new opportunities and strategic initiatives.

Strengthened and strategically focused leadership and decision


The Management Group (MG) must be the strategic leadership team of UNDP. It will be
a unified collective executive team, operate at the strategic level and provide strong
leadership and direction to the whole organization.

The Management Group will become the Executive Group (EG) and will continue to
comprise the Administrator, Associate Administrator and Bureau Directors. It will be
responsible for:

 setting the vision and strategy of the organization;

 setting high level priorities to focus the organization on the achievement of that
strategic direction;
 allocating and aligning resources to priority areas; and
 making the highest level decisions involving significant risks, opportunities, sensitivity
or reputational impact.

The Executive Group will be supported by a reformed Operations Group (OG). The new
OG will also assume a collective leadership role, advise the EG on strategic and
organizational priorities, and identify corporate policy changes required.

The Operations Group will become the Organizational Performance Group (OPG). It will
be chaired by the Associate Administrator and comprise all Bureau Deputy Directors. It

 advise on key priorities for operational policy to support organizational performance;

 take decisions on changes to operational policy and procedures where appropriate.

Throughout the organization, UNDP will ensure that decisions are taken at the right
level based on an assessment of risk, opportunity, and sensitivity.

Decision Making in UNDP

Highest level of risk, opportunity, • Administrator

sensitivity and changes in UNDP
strategic focus • Executive Group

• Associate Administrator
Higher level risk , opportunity,
sensitivity • Organizational
Performance Group
• Resident representative

• ASG/Bureau Director
Medium level risk, opportunity, • Bureau Deputy Director
sensitivity • Division Chief
• Country Director
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Clarity of functions and accountabilities

All Bureaux will have three key functions within their areas of responsibility:

 To provide strategic advice to the Executive Group and the Organizational

Performance Group
 Accountability for delivery of programmes and services; and
 External outreach.

Bureau Directors will play a collective leadership and organizational strategic decision
making role, and through their individual Bureau responsibilities, have a clear
accountability for taking forward the identified strategic priorities and achieving results.
They will also have a key role in external outreach to stakeholders and partners.

Deputy Directors will also have a collective organizational leadership role, focused on
supporting the Executive Group and operational policy. Within their individual Bureaux
they will have accountability for day to day bureau management to achieve the
identified objectives.

This will cascade throughout the organization to accountabilities being more clearly
articulated at all levels.


Clearly defined Regional Bureau accountabilities

The role of Regional Bureaux will be clarified as being accountable for:

 implementing corporate decisions regionally;

 effectiveness of programme delivery;
 allocation of resources to country offices;
 oversight of programme quality, results reporting and compliance with corporate
requirements; and
 regional outreach.

All oversight of programme delivery functions (excluding disaster/crisis response) will be

progressively aligned under regional bureau management. This will ensure strategic
alignment with organizational and country priorities and greater efficiencies in
programme management. The transition of programme delivery functions currently
undertaken by other Bureaux to Regional Bureaux will be undertaken over the next
twelve months. Policy Bureaux will continue to work closely with regional bureaux and
country offices in support of high quality programmes and policy advisory services.

Regional Service Centres will be closely integrated into the work of the Regional
Bureaux. Their primary function will be to provide integrated programme and policy
support services to country offices. The heads of the Regional Service Centres will
report to the Bureau Deputy Director.
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Regional Bureaux will report to the Executive Group on a regular basis on the
implementation of strategic priorities; resource allocations (core and non-core) to
achieve these priorities; plans for lifting impact; and results.

Integrated Crisis prevention and recovery

Crisis prevention and recovery programmes will be closely integrated with regional
bureaux for more effective country support and mainstreaming with a jointly agreed
focus on priority countries. There will be strengthened policy alignment between the
Bureau for Development Policy (BDP) and Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery
(BCPR). There will be more effective and efficient country and regional crisis prevention
and recovery programme management, through stronger links with regional bureaux
country programme advisers and improved management of support and technical
services to country offices through a single entry point for accessing services.

Value added corporate services

As the critical enabler of front line performance, corporate services will be aligned
around the following three priorities:

(i) Customer service – providing integrated corporate services to all other Bureaux;
(ii) Providing strategic corporate advice to decision makers; and
(iii) Governance, compliance and risk management.

A plan to shift direction and approach to deliver high performance and quality on these
three critical business functions will be developed.

The delivery of corporate services will be more customer focused, providing efficient,
reliable, responsive and quality services. Service Plans will be developed between the
Bureau of Management (BOM) and other bureaux specifying what and how services will
be provided to meet their needs. These plans will be supported by a relationship liaison

All business processes will be simplified and streamlined to minimize transaction costs.
In particular, the timeliness of recruitment processes will be in line with best practice, as
part of a strong human resource management function.

In order to further build a professional management services career stream, all

corporate services staff in the organization will have a reporting link to the Bureau of
Management (BOM), and be supported by professional skills and career development.

Corporate services will be responsible for advising on organizational requirements to

deliver on agreed priorities, including the development of:

 an integrated financial strategy to ensure financial sustainability and ability to deliver

(including integrating finance and budget functions);
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 an overarching human resource strategy, including

 a people capability strategy to identify the size, shape and skills mix required
for UNDP’s future workforce in order to meet the increasingly complex
development challenges, country requirements for more ‘upstream’ and
integrated policy advice, as well ensure the provision of professional
corporate services.
 a performance management strategy that encourages a high performance
 a talent management strategy; and
 a learning and development strategy

UNDP will have a robust risk management framework in place, enabling the organization
to identify and manage risk effectively. Compliance against internal and external
corporate requirements will be actively monitored and managed.

Future focused, high quality policy services

UNDP will be a leading contributor to policy debates and will have in place a robust
policy framework to guide programming, advice, and other policy based services. There
will be a greater focus on the global sustainable human development nexus between
inclusive growth, poverty reduction, governance, gender, environment and climate
change. Policy bureaux will deliver integrated, high quality and practical solutions that
can make a significant difference in country programmes.

Policy services will be more tightly focused on the highest priority areas where UNDP
can best support countries. They will look over the horizon to emerging global policy
issues. UNDP will maintain a robust practice architecture connecting the country,
regional and global levels. At the same time the practice architecture will evolve as more
cross practice and integrated policy work is undertaken. New ways of working will be
adopted that utilize staff in cross practice teams in order to focus on identified policy
priorities and achieve greater integration of development advice across UNDP practice
areas and themes.

UNDP’s focus on inclusive growth will be strengthened through the establishment of a

new position of Chief Economist within the Bureau of Development Policy (BDP). A
small strategic policy team will be established, headed by the Chief Economist, to
provide senior leadership with integrated advice on global policy issues and emerging
trends, and the implications for country and regional programmes. It will also
coordinate an integrated strategy and prioritization process for the whole of UNDP’s
policy work, in line with organizational priorities.

The Bureau of Development Policy’s primary role will be the provision of policy and
knowledge services that can support high quality, relevant programs, drive development
of new and innovative solutions and programs, learn from evolving country-level
experience, and support effective advocacy in global development-related debates,
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negotiations and decision making. BDP will continue to manage and mobilize resources
in line with established priorities for global and thematic trust funds. As noted above,
country offices will have clear responsibility for programme delivery with regional
bureaux providing oversight.

The development of high quality, rigorous and credible policy advice will be supported
by the establishment of standards of what is expected in such advice and an agreed
policy development process for achieving those standards. To further support
professional policy services, appropriate reporting lines for all policy staff, wherever
they are located, will be developed to ensure that staff work to a coherent and
consistent framework, provide high quality products and services, and have access to
professional policy skills development and career pathways.

Other Organizational Strategies

UNDP will have clear organizational plans in place to ensure it can deliver on its strategic
agenda, including on its role as the leader and co-ordinator of the UN development
system. It will systematically plan ahead for its requirements, taking a three to five year
planning horizon. This will require the development of a number of new strategies,
particularly in relation to: external relations; external partnerships; resource
mobilization; and differentiated services in different country typologies. Existing
strategies on: knowledge management; communications; programme quality assurance
and results reporting; and UNDP’s UN development co-ordination and Resident Co-
ordinator system manager role, will be updated and strengthened, to take account of
identified priorities, this agenda to lift performance, and the outcomes of the mid-term
review of the Strategic Plan. Implementation of organizational plans will be facilitated
by cutting edge information technology platforms.

External relations

UNDP will be outwardly focused, engaging with a wide range of stakeholders and
broadening its stakeholder base. Its relationships and external communications with
member states, other multilateral agencies, other parts of the UN, civil society, the
private sector, and the general public all affect the organization’s standing and
reputation, and consequently its effectiveness. UNDP will sharpen its focus on external
relationship management and communication.

Partnership strategy

UNDP will strengthen and diversify its partnerships, recognizing the growing range of
actors engaged in responding to the challenge of sustainable human development.
UNDP will seek to become a multilateral partner of choice. UNDP will invest in
partnerships to strengthen its ability to be effective as an adviser to governments and to
deliver high quality programmes.
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A three to five year external strategy for building and leveraging future partnerships will
be developed. The strategy will be implemented via annual external partnership
strategies, with responsibilities assigned amongst the leadership team, for external
engagement to develop and support existing and new partnerships.

Integrated resource mobilization strategye

Resource mobilization will be driven by the external partnership strategy and agreed
priorities, and will be integrated, bringing together core and non-core resources for the
first time. UNDP will access resources from a wider variety of sources, including
traditional Official Development Assistance (ODA), knowledge based services, and
private sector financing mechanisms to help countries leverage the effective use of
domestic resources for development to achieve greater impact.

An overall collective approach to resource mobilization will be developed, building off

the external strategy and in line with UNDP’s priorities. Country offices, regional service
centres, and headquarters units will retain the capacity to mobilize resources within an
agreed overall frame and in line with decisions made on annual and medium-term
organizational priorities.

Differentiated services in different country typologies

UNDP’s services and programmes will be configured to respond to the needs in different
country settings – low income and least developed countries, middle income and net
contributing countries as well as countries facing protracted and complex crises.

A differentiated country typology business model will be developed to guide resource

allocations and the best configuration of knowledge, policy, programme and corporate
services to support effective delivery at the country level.


Senior leaders in UNDP are accepting the challenge to shift the organization’s
performance from good to great, including by helping people change the way they
think, act, and behave to achieve better results. UNDP will be an organization that
works collectively and in an aligned way.

Leadership behaviours at all levels in the organization are a key driver of organizational
performance. Leaders will help people look for new solutions, work in collaborative
ways, and engage together to provide packages of services to countries. There will be
clarity and transparency over decision making, and decisions once made, will be
communicated, translated, and implemented in a consistent way.

Best practice performance management tools will be introduced along with associated
support to build understanding of core leadership values and lift the quality of
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management. Performance agreements will identify expectations and accountability for

results. The performance management system will be updated and aligned to reward
high performance and address underperformance. Communication on outcomes of
decision making bodies will be systematized, with regular communication to staff on the
outcomes of decisions, action to be taken, and responsibility for it.

UNDP will aim to be an employer of choice, and to attract and retain the people it
needs. Career progression and development pathways for all staff, including corporate
services, policy, and programme management staff, will be put in place. Skilled and
experienced staff will be expected to mentor and support junior professionals, alongside
formal programmes to build capability and develop staff skills. The safety and security of
staff will continue to be paramount.


The agenda outlined above, focused on headquarters and the regional service centres, is
designed to ensure even more effective programme delivery by UNDP at the country





Strategic Organizational Integrated Change Partnerships Integrated Communication

Policy Strategies Resource Management Resource
Allocation Mobilization


Corporate: Policy:
 Efficient, effective, customer focused  Integrated and high quality advice to met country
 Risk Management and mitigation needs.

UNDP’s services and programmes will be driven by country needs. Country office
engagement will be future focused, underpinned by stronger analysis of current and
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emerging country needs, and supported by strategic partnerships to deliver the

identified assistance.

To enable country offices to operate more effectively, they will be able to access a
joined up package of services (both policy and corporate) aligned to organizational
priorities and strengths. There will be access to integrated and co-ordinated corporate
services through a single entry point. Overall, the corporate process burden will be
significantly reduced. Country offices will be able to access integrated policy advice and
services to help countries with thinking and practical, best practice advice that spans
across a range of areas such as inclusive growth, poverty reduction, climate change,
gender and governance. UNDP’s services and programmes will be configured to
respond to the needs in different country settings - low income and least developed
countries, middle income and net contributing countries as well as countries facing
protracted and complex crises. UNDP will be able to better assist countries to access
the increasing number of funding mechanisms to finance development.

The trajectory towards a stronger focus in programmes on assisting countries achieve

transformational change will continue. Strengthened support to enable UNDP to better
identify its contribution to that change through results reporting will continue, as will
efforts to strengthen the effectiveness of UNDP’s development contributions.

Implementation of the agenda to lift UNDP’s performance from good to great will be
overseen by a Steering Group chaired by the Associate Administrator reporting to the
Executive Group. It will be assisted by a small Strategy and Change Implementation
Group established in the Executive Office, which will be staffed from a small number of
staff seconded from Bureaux, along with external consultants. The Group will work
closely with specific change and strategy groups established in Bureaux, to ensure that
implementation moves forward in a prioritized and sequenced way and is supported by
comprehensive internal and external communication programmes. A budget is being
established to ensure resources are available to support implementation. The Executive
Group will regularly review progress and provide direction.

Discussion on and engagement in the change agenda must become part of our daily
business at UNDP. The agenda to lift performance has been carefully developed in
broad terms and provides a clear way forward. The process of implementation and the
detailed decisions that will need to be taken on how we will achieve our desired state
will, however, require all staff to contribute their ideas, thinking and practical

Regular updates, newsletters and other communications will be provided on issues and
progress as we move forward to ensure that bureau and country office staff can discuss
and contribute to the ongoing agenda. Implementation will proceed through normal
business processes. In particular, over the next 12 months, the Executive Group will
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systematically consider detailed proposals for taking this agenda forward. It is expected
that, once agreed, these will be reflected in business unit planning and in individual
performance agreements, so that within the next two years there will be visible change
within the organization.

Staff participation

Ultimately, the solutions to achieving transformational results reside in the collective

intelligence and experience of staff across the different parts of UNDP. We need to
work with one another, across boundaries and learn our way to new solutions.

As an initial step to support this process, a SharePoint space has been established:, which will contain all relevant information
regarding the agenda for change. Staff may also direct comments, questions, concerns
and ideas about implementation to, managed by the Strategy and
Change Implementation Group, which will respond individually to all issues raised.

Staff will also have the opportunity to participate in and contribute to Bureau-based
change teams and new strategic units, for example, the taskforce to be established in
the Bureau of Management to shift the corporate services business model and with the
strategic policy team to be established in the Bureau of Development Policy.

While the change agenda outlined deliberately focuses on headquarters, its outcomes
are designed to enable UNDP to deliver more effectively at country level. The feedback
and engagement of staff in country offices will hence be crucial if we are to achieve this

A call to action
The change agenda outlined in this paper is designed to lift UNDP performance from
good to great. By doing so, UNDP will be better able to harness the passion and
commitment of its key resource, its people. Consequently, staff themselves will feel
more satisfied that they are able to contribute effectively, and empowered to do so.

Responding to the challenges of the international development landscape will require

ongoing refinements and additions to this strategy and the planned changes. The key
issue is that UNDP moves to a position where we operate as a cohesive, forward
looking organization; and that the organization has in place the governance mechanisms
and accountabilities to be capable of continually making changes, refining priorities and
demonstrating responsiveness and flexibility to an evolving development agenda.