Strategic Turnaround: Recipe for Agency Reform

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BOOK REVIEW

Reform is fundamentally a leadership and governance issue. Although to reform government may seemingly take forever, but it is a worthwhile venture. And, if all government institutions are delivering on their respective mandates, then the entire institution of government will be considered effective and its impact on businesses and quality of living will be evident.

This is the crux of an exciting new book, ‘Strategic Turnaround: Story of a Government Agency’, authored by Dr. Dakuku Peterside, a former Director-General /CEO of the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

The 300-page book takes the reader through how one of the most important government institutions was transformed and made to be effective and efficient. It details events and turn around initiatives embarked upon in the agency in the four years of Dakuku’s management that transformed NIMASA from a laggard institution to a respected and admired government agency.

Aside from the story of bold changes, the 13-chapter book highlights challenges to anticipate when embarking on the reform of any government institution. It navigates through changes in culture, priorities, human resources, reputational positioning, commitment by leadership and stakeholder engagement.

Set for release in January 2021, Peterside shares the author’s lessons from experience on how to turn around government agencies to deliver optimal outcome for the benefit of the people. Using narratives, he explains how any leader can use different management and leadership tools to chart new path for public sector agencies and achieve excellence in delivery of services that meet public expectations.

The book shares a lot of stories that inspired Peterside to apply unusual management principles derived from indigenous knowledge to transform what was once a disparaged, mediocre and failed institution to a thriving one that commands local and international respect. Strategic Turnaround combines two writing styles to get the reader to grasp deep management principles without pushing them to master technical jargons. The book employs the narrative style to get the readers to see themselves in NIMASA and take them to the inner workings of the author’s mind as he makes critical decisions. It also uses the expository writing style to explain difficult technical issues so the layman can have a good grasp of the issues.

It was quite exciting reading the section that captures areas where the author believed his team could not accomplish set targets and so proffers solutions to barriers militating against reform of government or public sector institutions drawing from his experience.

All considered, Strategic Turnaround is an amazing read. It is a fresh perspective to the debate on whether to pursue the reform of government agencies or simply advocate constant renewal. What is not in contest, however, is that government institutions are failing and can hardly deliver on their respective mandates. Professionals and non-professionals alike – indeed, anyone interested in seeing well-functioning public sector institutions – will definitely be interested in reading the book.