WIPO Pitches Proposed Programme Of Strategic RealignmentPublished on 29 October 2008 @ 5:24 pm
Intellectual Property Watch
By William New
A few weeks after its new director general took office, the World Intellectual Property Organization has announced a programme of strategic realignment in the secretariat aimed at opening up the organisation and improving the focus on customer service. The plan includes creating 22 new posts, making permanent some 30 other contract employees, and a pricey feasibility study on construction of a new multimillion dollar conference centre, according to government sources.
On Thursday, an informal meeting with interested member states will be held at WIPO to further discuss the proposal, where governments may give their reactions, sources said. The secretariat, including Director General Francis Gurry, presented the programme to the WIPO Audit Committee in early October and again to all members on 20 October. Some presentations are available on the WIPO website here.
Gurry also explained his strategy and his style in an interview with Intellectual Property Watch, available for subscribers here.
The secretariat is consulting with members, including regional groups, in the lead-up to the Program and Budget Committee meeting on 10-11 December, followed by an extraordinary General Assembly on 12 December.
According to government sources, WIPO officials are proposing 22 new posts, ranging from a new chief economist and director of global challenges such as climate change, to employees in information technology and translation. WIPO has been under a hiring freeze in recent years.
Some changes have also happened quickly in WIPO organisational structure. The Office of the Director General is now headed by Marc Sery-Koré, replacing the previous Chef de Cabinet Michèle Weil-Guthmann, who has become senior director-advisor to Philippe Petit, Deputy Director General for General Affairs and Administration; and the Office of the Controller, which used to report directly to the director general, has been moved under the General Affairs and Administration Sector. Philippe Favatier is now the chief financial officer and controller, at the head of the newly streamlined Department of Finance, Budget and Program Management, replacing former Controller Carlotta Graffigna who moved to the Copyright and Related Rights Sector.
Another notable change to the organisational structure is the addition of a Development Agenda Coordination Division, reporting directly to the director general. This division is headed by Pushpendra Rai.
Early reactions from several members to the proposed realignment appeared positive, though many said they would seek more details, especially about the possibly $3 million feasibility study for the new conference centre (which itself presumably would fall under a future budget). According to sources, the centre would be separate from the new building being constructed at WIPO right now, and could possibly be rented out when not in use by WIPO. It is unclear how often WIPO would need such a large meeting space beyond its annual General Assemblies, but overcrowding in its current main conference hall occasionally is a concern at regular committee meetings during the year.
Streams of Realignment
There are three “streams” to the realignment, according to information on the WIPO website. The first is to change the corporate culture to instil shared values and move to an organisation-wide “customer-service orientation,” with consideration of every type of stakeholder. This will include introducing a culture of “value for money,” “performance” and “quality,” according to a secretariat presentation on the programme.
The second stream is re-engineering business processes to ensure that WIPO’s core administrative and management processes are “responsive, service-oriented and cost-effective.” This involves reviewing WIPO’s core administrative business processes and identifying ways to simplify and improve them. It also involves ensuring use of the latest information technology solutions, procurement and other processes.
The third stream is to realign programmes, organisational structure and resources in line with strategic goals, including to assess divisions’ objectives and mandates, identify any gap in human and financial resources as well as ways to address the gap, and implement a new performance appraisal system. An independent professional assessment of WIPO human resources in recent years showed appraisals to need improvement.
The timeline given by WIPO for the overall realignment is 2 to 3 years, starting with a new communications strategy and restructuring this month. This would be followed by review of patents and the Patent Cooperation Treaty, plus arbitration and mediation in November and December; development-related organisational units in January and February 2009; and trademark and industrial designs in March and April 2009. “A more comprehensive plan ensuring linkages across different streams and initiatives will be prepared,” the secretariat presentation said.
On WIPO’s new communications strategy would have internal and external aspects, according to a 20 October presentation. The external objectives would aim to increase confidence in WIPO through “trusted, two-way communication,” and position the organisation as “the leading provider of IP services and information.” The Communications Division will integrate different activities related to information and customer services.
William New may be reached at email@example.com.