Sunday, October 9, 2011

Celebrating 20 Years in Prague

This last week, we celebrated 20 years since the start-up of KNO Česko in Prague in Autumn 1991. Steven Kelly, who founded KNO after military service in 1979, and partner M Mari Novak who joined him in 1984, arrived in Czechoslovakia soon after the fall of communism. 

Starting out in initially in a small flat, they soon opened up the first office at the Benešovská 21 villa in the Vinohrady district of Prague.

Mari and Ivan, 1991

Steven, Sofie, Anetta, and Donna - 1992
The early staff started quickly with two projects - the beginning of a 5 year sales and service training relationship with GM/Opel and the introduction of country-wide salary surveys with Coopers and Lybrand, later to become PricewaterhouseCoopers.

First GM/Opel Dealers Training 1992

Flyer for Salary Survey - 1992 to 2002
In 1993, KNO started the beginning of a decades long partnership with World Learning, managing the USAID funded training initiatives in support of the ongoing reforms in that period.  In 1995, KNO was joined by Hana Hanibalová, for coordination of these program efforts.
In 15 years, over 70 training programs were conducted in Prague for USAID audiences from many countries. Hundreds of Czechoslovak managers were trained during the country transformation as well.

In the past 4 years, Hana and manager colleague Michaela Karásková, who joined KNO in 1999 focusing on customer service research, have taken the majority ownership in the Czech firm.

During the past 20 years, KNO has provided quality consulting, training and research performance support to many of the top businesses in the Czech Republic.  Notable collaboration efforts are linked here.

Several company milestones from 20 years of operation are detailed on the KNO website.

Below are a few historical team photos from the last 2 decades of KNO Česko operations.

Retreat with Slovak colleagues

Jana, Martina and Veronika

Robert, Miša and Jana circa 2005

Mark, Steven, Karel and Ondrej in 1995

KNO team circa 2000

1997 AmCham Cover

Team at Villa Safranka circa1998
10 Year Celebration in Crete, Greece 2001
Strategy Session on Ruska Terrace 2004

Happy Anniversary KNO!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Innovation in Government: Republic of Georgia

A McKinsey report issued in September discusses innovations in government services in transitioning countries.  Focused on Kenya and Georgia, the analysts detail some of the changes in government services in the past few years.  The short report is linked here.

New Batumi Service Hall
Much of the Georgia story discusses the improved services of the National Agency of Public Registry (NAPR), although it is not identified as such in the article.  The agency works under the Ministry of Justice and handles much of the paperwork registration and certification detailed in the story.  What makes this story so remarkable is that this progress did not happen by magic.  The Public Registry was one of a small group of government institutions selected for American donor support in 2006 as an element of the USAID funded Public Administration Reform program.  

M. Mari Novak
The implementing contractor was the consortium team MSI and AED. KNO consultant M. Mari Novak was hired to do the initial performance assessment of the NAPR, define priorities for action, indicators of success, and to design initial interventions to move the agency forward.  At the time, the CRA offices were trading floppy discs with data across the country, and struggling with a tiny budget.

Meanwhile, KNO consultant Steven Kelly was working in Batumi doing a similar assessment with the Autonomous Republic on the Black Sea.  It was winter, and the worn government concrete building was so cold that meetings were held in coats and gloves.  Both Mari and Steven as certified Performance Experts, applied the methods of Human Performance Technology (HPT) to addressing the capacity building challenge.

From these early beginnings, discrete intervals of consultancy and technical assistance were provided during the following years, from both American and other funding sources. The NAPR was fortunate to have a very progressive manager (since promoted within the Ministry of Justice).  

He was able to manage the support made available in the upcoming months - help with strategic planning, capacity development, etc - to build on his agencies strengths toward the "everything in one place" and the "customer is king" vision.  

Meanwhile, other parallel advisory efforts in support of improving business registration, customs processes, and overall administration where underway funded by USAID. Substantial additional funding was made available by the EU and other international donors to support the progress being made.   It was a true example of capacity development - momentum building year-by-year in a sustainable fashion, supported by multiple donors.

Of course, the true credit for the superb results fully rests with the NAPR managers and staff, supported by the Ministry of Justice.  They were able to discern what support they truly needed, not let the donors dictate emphasis based on their own agendas, and engage the staff to upgrade service levels.

It is a great case study of capacity development really working.

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