Kurdistan Regional Government - Protecting Stakeholders

Kurdistan
Today, our standards are international standards so international companies can come and succeed.
— Kamaran Ahmed, KRG Minister of Construction and Housing
I would like to express my warmest thanks for all of your hard work and outstanding for performing the task of Organizational Project Management Maturity Assessment. I know how much time and energy this assignment demanded, and I deeply appreciate all of your exerted efforts to make it a great success. I really want to congratulate you and your entire team on behalf of our Ministry’s stakeholders for this remarkable performance.
— Rasheed Hamawand, Ministry Engineering, MOCAH

When you have less powerful stakeholders who need to be protected from more powerful stakeholders, it is helpful to get an outside view of your ability to implement your strategies.

Challenge

Kurdistan

Iraqi Kurdistan or Southern Kurdistan is an autonomous region in Northern Iraq, bordering Iran to the east, Turkey to the north, and Syria to the west. It is home to one of the oldest civilizations in the world. The region is officially governed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

In 2014, Kurdistan was flooded by up to two million refugees fleeing the conflict with ISIS, placing great demands upon the region's infrastructure. Addressing the infrastructure challenge was the Ministry of Construction and Housing (MOCAH), whose teams were also working with the Peshmerga (Kurdish fighters against ISIS) on the front line. MOCAH was building new emergency roads and barriers, and providing technical support.

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The Kurds garnered esteem internationally for proving their bravery, prowess, and commitment to fight ISIS, and they were unique in their successful containment and repulsion of Islamic militants (before the United States settled the matter). The conflict was distracting the KRG from the multi-billion dollar project portfolio that was part of Kurdistan's strategic plan to develop the region, which held the richest oil fields of Iraq and was poised to become a major hub for trade. The KRG faced an imperative to improve its ability and capacity to deliver projects successfully, consistently, and predictably against a backdrop that was complex, volatile, and uncertain.

Solution

The Kurdistan Regional Government hired OPM Experts to advise them regarding implementing their strategies through projects. We considered (1) arenas, (2) differentiators, (3) vehicles, (4) staging and pacing, and (5) economic logic. We asked whether external opportunities could strengthen their position and whether they had the internal competences to capitalize on those opportunities in a manner that aligned to their social responsibilities and values. We considered stakeholder preferences, population trends, legislation and enforcement priorities, and power dynamics between the KRG and its neighbors. We envisioned how strategies could be implemented in stages to allow learning, incremental development of capabilities, and adaptation. In that analysis, we realized the unique opportunity to leverage the Ministry of Construction and Housing (MOCAH) to advance the KRG’s strategic intent. We evaluated MOCAH's portfolio of projects and their project management capabilities, and advised the Ministry regarding ways to transform those capabilities. To vet our data and to cultivate the political will necessary to enact our recommendations, we engaged His Excellency the Minister of Construction and Housing, all deputy ministers (e.g. for roads, bridges, housing, and public buildings, etc.), the Minister’s advisors, and the Director Generals responsible for the respective governorates and provinces.

Results

The Kurdistan Regional Government Council of Ministers issued an appreciation letter to OPM Experts for “outstanding work.” MOCAH went on to build up the KRG’s defenses by creating a security belt stretching more than 1,000 km (600 miles) from the Iranian border all the way to Syria – skirting around Mosul, a city of 2 million people. The city of Kirkuk and the surrounding area was seized by the Peshmerga without firing a single shot and added to Iraqi Kurdistan.

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