Setting the Pathway Forward for CIP

Periodically every organization engages in strategic planning. CIP is currently engaged in this process. After six weeks of small group meetings, one-on-one discussions, and sharing on a wiki, CIP’s strategic planning turned to its experts in the regions, research areas and operational sectors to put pen to parchment and develop a strategic plan for the next five years.

Last week, roughly 40 CIP staff gathered at the Lima headquarters from throughout the regions for an intensive five-day strategic development meeting. The first day was an open session that many from the Lima office took advantage of attending.

For a business school guy, the dynamic of having scientists, social scientists, and operational managers combine to create a comprehensive and achievable strategy is fantastic to observe. While the early sessions were devoted to reports from the regions, the CGIAR environment, and priority setting, the end game for the week was, of course, strategy. I’m reminded by my early days in strategy development where a mentor explained that strategy is the path that we decide to travel based upon the best information we have. It’s a road map. Keeping focused on this at this point will be critical to our success.

A real risk in strategy development is the phenomenon of “groupthink,” which is the process of like-minded people affirming the assumptions of others with very little discussion and questioning, resulting in a misguided course of action. Based upon the level of engagement throughout the week, this is not a concern. There was a healthy give-and-take that makes me confident that we are travelling on the right path. This is not surprising given that the vast majority of the discussants were scientists, who are trained to be skeptics and to challenge assertions until a valid way forward is achieved.

By the end of the week, the groups reconvened after days of working separately in writing groups with only occasional general reporting sessions. And while scientists are loathe to reporting preliminary results, business school grads like me can, and from the content and the character of the reports I believe that CIP is well on the way to delivering a sound corporate strategy. It will be thorough and deliberate. However, more importantly, the strategic and corporate plan for the next five years will place CIP in an ideal position to improve food security globally.

Joel Ranck, CIP’s Head of Communications