Alisher Latypov, Project Lead for the LMG/Ukraine Project, claims to have found “the key ingredients for success,” and he has our attention. According to Alisher, collaboration, prioritization, and a close partnership with the client are the three ingredients that have fueled the LMG Project’s success.
When Alisher began his work with the LMG/Ukraine Project in January 2014, Ukraine was amidst political unrest, with a forthcoming change in the government soon followed by the Russian invasion of Crimea. Having been through turbulent times in his native Tajikistan, working in a country during a crisis did not unravel him. With an impressive background in social and scientific research with Central Asian key populations, Alisher was well poised to take on the challenging assignment with the LMG Project.
From the beginning, Alisher focused on creating a collaborative partnership with the Ukrainian Center for Socially Dangerous Disease Control (UCDC) through developing and implementing a work plan that would yield the intended results: “From the beginning, I approached the whole project as working in unison with UCDC. I regularly met with our client and revised workplan activities to reflect mutual goals. We always went back to our UCDC focal point to present revisions and the rationale for these decisions. It was important for this to be reflected in the workplan activities.”
The LMG Project designed the support so that a strong collaboration with UCDC would be possible from the very beginning. Instead of sitting at a Management Sciences for Health (MSH) office, Alisher worked in UCDC’s office so he could engage regularly with colleagues: “When you are embedded with the client, you can see how they respond and if an activity is not a priority for them. You get motivated when you are doing something that is meaningful to the client and not just a part of the workplan.” With healthcare system reforms rolling out, and priorities changing daily, having this strong relationship with UCDC proved to be critical to getting work accomplished.
Flexibility is Alisher’s strength, and it helps him adjust quickly to the changing circumstances: “The two things I learned were to be open and be prepared for changes, and to always do your best to have workplans that meet the most immediate needs of the client—if this happens there is a very good collaboration, buy-in, and contribution from the client when jointly developing technical deliverables.”
Alisher attributes much of his success as Project Lead to his colleague, Stanislav Sereda, a Project Specialist. Sereda was a former UCDC employee before a reorganization left him without a viable position. Sereda’s experience working with UCDC proved to be fundamental: “As an employee of UCDC, he had good knowledge of our client needs, and it was easy for him to meet his former colleagues and discuss items requiring their input.” Alisher also credits the fluidity of the LMG/Ukraine Project’s work with his ability to collaborate with Sereda within the office: “For any project, there is a large technical component, but also inside knowledge of how to get things done administratively and operationally within a Ukrainian government setting.”
With the end of support to UCDC, Alisher reflects on what he considers to be some of the big successes of the LMG Project’s organizational development support. Strategy development and planning, including institutional and resource mobilization, was a priority. Developing internal management processes such as a management dashboard and knowledge management policy put systems and structures in place for UCDC to have data inform internal decisions, and to have documents and guidance easily accessible for staff. Communications is a key area–UCDC’s website was improved, helping UCDC increase visibility, effectively engage stakeholders, and establish and increase UCDC’s presence on social media.
Described by UCDC leadership as a member of their team, Alisher is behind the excellent results, including having a client who is extremely pleased with the LMG Project’s support. On Friday, September 25, UCDC and the LMG Project convened “Sustaining Capacity Development Results,” an event that reviewed 35+ strategies and plans, policies, communications, assessments, and other tools that in UCDC’s words have transformed them into a resilient organization, prepared to play a leadership role in the healthcare system reform process. Described as a breakthrough and significant milestone by UCDC, the partnership with the LMG Project allowed for a focus on internal capacity development that may not have been possible otherwise during a time of crisis in Ukraine. Today, UCDC staff feel ready for the exciting challenges ahead and their new roles in the Ukrainian public health system.