I have always believed that any organization, no matter how small must always have a deputizing arrangement for the head of the organization. This is to ensure continuity and that the organization is not exposed to one dimensional leadership. As a growing organization, the MSG Secretariat is constantly changing, both in terms of its structure and scope of services. Change management becomes an inevitable necessity to ensure the right changes are applied with minimal disruptions to work flow and aiming to seize an opportunity before it escapes. Part of successful change management is deciding the approach – whether to occasion radical changes that totally, in one sweeping change, alter the way business is done, or to introduce incremental changes, as has been the case so far.

 Opting for application of incremental changes has allowed for learning to happen on the possible impacts of the changes as well as on the types of improvements that can be made along the way to ensure the changes introduced do achieve their intended impacts. Any introduced changes however must have an intended purpose – either to respond to an underlying weakness or to help position the organization in a better position to capture looming opportunities. But sometimes too it can be beneficial to effect changes following a change in leadership. This will ensure a new leader is able to apply their own ideas and thinking to how business of an organization should be organized.

All these factors I have considered when I sought approval from the Governing Body for soft reforms to be undertaken in 2012. The initial changes affected rationalization of some staff posting, to place staff where they could be effective and to deploy others to cover existing priorities that have become prominent consequent to changing circumstances. Although we knew staff affected will respond to the challenge of a new position, we didn’t expect the success to be evident so soon after the changes have been applied. The fact they did, indicate to me, the changes were necessary and timely.

However although the changes were successful, the fact they were not part of any organizational structure design meant that the new positions created in the rationalization process were not linked to the rest of the organization and so there are risks that coordination and reporting might be compromised. We responded to this and designed a new organizational structure as part of developing our new Corporate Plan. This important was approved by our Governing Body in Port Moresby in November last year. The new structure incorporates the new positions therefore reinforcing the coordination and reporting requirements that are so essential to a dynamic organization.

This year we had prepared ourselves to start implementing our new Corporate Plan, focusing on implementation of the new organizational structure articulated in the Plan. This process will be incrementally applied, starting with the appointment of Mr Peni Sikivou, formerly Director Economic and Social Development Division, as Acting Deputy Director General. This appointment was necessary to ensure the Secretariat starts complying with its Constitution but more importantly, to provide some balance to internal leadership and management hence avoiding exposing the Secretariat to one-dimensional leadership. With that appointment in place, an opportunity self-presented which allowed us to merge the Trade and Economic divisions into now one division called Trade and Economic Development Division. This took us another step closer to eventually begin implementing the new structure. Our aim in the new structure is to move to programmes and ensure our organization is relatively flat.

We will continue to assess what next steps to take and come beginning of 2014, we hope to have a new look Secretariat, with better alignment of functions and effective coordination as a result. Meantime, we will maintain the current arrangements for as long as necessary in 2013 so that we are able to support the important work that are now underway, notably the work of the EPG, and ensure these are concluded successfully. This will ensure a stable organization capable of taking on new changes in the months ahead as we attempt to fully implement the new organizational structure so that our organization can position itself to be more responsive to the challenges of the future.

Mr. Peter Forau
Former Director General, MSG Secretariat
21 Sept 2011 - 31 December 2015