Building Institutional Excellence in Elections Management of Ethiopia
9-13 January 2024
UNDP Ethiopia SEEDS2, in collaboration with NEBE, organized a five-day BRIDGE Building Institutional Excellence modular workshop for National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE). The overarching goal of this modular workshop is to strengthen and protect Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) and their reputations, supporting them in executing their mandates with integrity and efficiency to ultimately ensure the legitimacy of the electoral process. EMBs need to be resilient, agile, and robust institutions. Striving for institutional excellence in electoral administration is a multi-dimensional and complex endeavour that focuses on the structure and operation of the electoral institution rather than the electoral processes and delivery for which it is responsible.
The workshop was facilitated by two international BRIDGE facilitators Natia Kashakashvili and Shalva Tskhakaya, and local facilitator Cherer Aklilu Shaffo. It took place from January 9th to 13th, 2024, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Twenty-five participants, comprising 12 women and 13 men, representing NEBE HQ, and four heads of regional election offices actively engaged in the workshop. The workshop was inaugurated by the UNDP Governance team leader and the NEBE chairperson.
The workshop agenda primarily centered on introducing the four building blocks and five enablers of the Institutional Excellence Model. In summary, the first two days of the workshop focused on providing participants with an understanding of the foundational building blocks. Moving into days 3-4, the workshop delved into the enablers of institutional excellence, while on day 5, participants synthesized their knowledge to construct a roadmap for NEBE’s journey towards institutional excellence.
Below is a detailed explanation of the flow and structure of the workshop content:
Days 1-2: Building Blocks of Institutional Excellence
Participants were introduced to the concept of institutional excellence, covering the building blocks, enablers, and potential inhibitors. The strategic elements required for driving institutional excellence in an EMB were explored (building block Strategy). Additionally, discussions focused on understanding organizational culture, emphasizing the significance of cultivating a positive, values-based, and high-performance culture (building block Culture). Participants reflected on how existing systems, processes, and resources impact their organization’s pursuit of excellence, considering how structures and procedures can either facilitate or inhibit excellence (building block Structure). The session also delved into recruiting, developing, and retaining staff essential for achieving institutional excellence (building block People).
Days 3-4: Enablers of Institutional Excellence
These days centered around the pivotal role of effective leadership in achieving institutional excellence. Discussions included advocacy, project management, and risk management as essential elements of leadership (Enabler – Effective leadership). Participants explored strategic communication and collaboration with external stakeholders, fostering partnerships for institutional excellence (Enabler – Communication and Collaboration). The importance of learning and development (L&D) in contributing to institutional excellence was emphasized. Participants identified NEBE’s learning needs and priorities, discussing ways to institutionalize learning with a strategic, long-term approach (Enabler – Organisational learning). The steps for conducting a meaningful organizational assessment were outlined (Enabler – Monitoring and Assessment). Lastly, participants delved into the concept of continuous improvement and its role in pursuing excellence, focusing on managing change processes and assessing performance.
After each building block and enabler session, participants engaged in a “reflection exercise,” providing a basis for further discussion and reference at the module’s conclusion.
Day 5: “Make it Happen” Activity
Participants actively participated in the “make it happen” activity, consolidating their reflections to construct an institutional excellence model applicable to their respective contexts. This led to the development of draft action plans or ‘roadmaps,’ outlining potential steps for attaining institutional excellence at NEBE.
Participants provided overwhelmingly positive feedback throughout the workshop, commending the engaging and participatory approach. They particularly appreciated the final day’s activity, which facilitated a comprehensive understanding of the four-day content flow. Additionally, it allowed participants to envision the crucial next steps for NEBE in its pursuit of Institutional Excellence. Below are some feedback provided by the participants within the written evaluation forms:
“Reflecting on “reflections” and the activity of pulling those together….as a NEBE Team. Helped show there is commonality and a shared analysis of challenges and opportunities. It is a great tool, methodology”.
- “Especially the last day activities enabled me to see what the complete picture of the intended workshop objectives were”.
- “All aspects were amazing, however the practical good practical experience sharing by the trainers and the reflection session were the most useful aspects”.
- “I can’t say this better than this, the process throughout is well planned & relevant to myself & NEBE”.
- “The objectives were clear, participatory, the provided resources/material and the reflection session”.
- “The objectives were put clearly, the topics have continuity, and the workshop was very engaging during all the five days”.
- “I’ve got a lot knowledge about the building blocks of Institutional Excellence and how to make them effective by use of institutional excellence enablers”.
- “It was an enlightening experience for me. I can’t wait to go back and do things differently in a manner that applies the institutional excellence principles”.
- “As always, I want to appreciate the trainers’ level of knowledge, preparation and style of training”.
The facilitators diligently incorporated participants’ comments and feedback daily to enhance the training conduct. Below are some comments and feedback for future consideration:
- As the contents of the course is crucial it will be better if the time allocated is a little bit extended.
- Some tasks needed more time.
- Good to have a separate PMEL module.
The workshop logistics was well-planned and executed with precision. Every suggestion and observation from the previous BRIDGE workshops were carefully integrated, significantly enhancing the participants’ overall satisfaction.
NEBE has reaffirmed its commitment to utilizing the BRIDGE curriculum as a crucial tool for capacity building; therefore, there are prospects to enlarge the pool of BRIDGE facilitators and conduct series of BRIDGE workshops.
As a result of the successful co-facilitation of the workshop, TtF-complete facilitator Cherer Aklilu Shaffo has been granted the certificate of accreditation and the “workshop-level facilitator” status.
At the end of the five-day workshop, participants were granted certificates of participation; certification was facilitated by the NEBE chairperson Melatwork Hailu.