Sustainable Enterprise Development: A Five-Year Strategy

The Client

My client was the Job Creation and Enterprise Development Department of the International Labour Organization (ILO), a specialist agency of the United Nations headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. This department delivers global programmes designed to promote decent and productive employment in the private sector.

The Challenge

In 2007, the tripartite International Labour Conference endorsed a series of conclusions and advice for the ILO and its Constituents on promoting sustainable enterprises to achieve decent work and improve living and social conditions. Entitled, Conclusions Concerning the Promotion of Sustainable Enterprises, this document reflected new economic, social and environmental challenges facing enterprise development and job creation. While the ILO’s Job Creation and Enterprise Development Department had been providing enterprise support programmes and services for some 20 years, there was a need to ensure these reflected the contemporary challenges and approaches outlined in the new Conclusions.

The Process

This was a nine-month process in which staff were organised into three technical teams: (1) Business Environment for Sustainable Development, (2) Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development, and (3) Maximizing the Contribution of Multinational Enterprises to the Creation of Productive Employment. I provided specialist support to these teams and to the production of four specialist Think-Piece documents, which provided an overview of the issues affecting the theme, challenges for the organisation and options for strategy development. I formulated work plans for each technical team according to a broader, agreed-upon timeframe and facilitated processes that drew a diverse range of actors together. This process included consulting with and coordinating the inputs from regional specialists located around the world.

Along with a senior manager and contributions from an international panel of experts, I produced a strategy document, which was discussed by all professional departmental staff and finally agreed to.

The Outcome

I produced a strategy that presents a broad long-term vision for the department, which is embedded into the organisation’s broader strategy. This document was adopted by the ILO Director-General and has been pursued as a coherent strategy for the global sustainable enterprise program.

Lessons Learned

Competent staff, working in challenging global environments often resent management impositions placed on them through new organisational strategies. It is easy for such interventions to be seen as disconnected from the day-to-day challenges these professional face. Thus, it is important to focus on how to improve the technical offering of the agency and agency effectiveness. Creating opportunities to improve technical skills and relevance are important ingredients when designing processes for new program and strategic directions.

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