The following strategic management paradigm draws on the experience of Brazil's EMBRAPA research organization. This management orientation and process is useful for and might well be adapted to extension organizations when seeking to revamp their management system. Key features include (a) the important leadership role of the president, (b) a high level of employee training; (c) increased budgets and salaries; and (d) combat resistance to change. The five generalities and 16 steps in the paradigm are:
1. External environment. Commitment to the major social, economic and environmental problems and challenges associated with the agricultural, forestry and agri-industrial sectors. At the same time, the institution must continuously monitor its external environment to capture and interpret macro-change.
2. Institutional actions. Must stress the principles and values of 'total quality' management as well as those introduced by strategic planning.
3. Approaches and concepts. Must introduce a market-oriented approach to move from a research agenda shaped by researchers ('supply oriented') to one shaped by clients and partners ('demand oriented').
4. Perspectives. Must introduce perspectives that are holistic, interdisciplinary and eco-regional in order to take into consideration the complexity of reality.
5. Accountability. Must ensure administrative transparency, sustainability of development activities, partnership with the private sector, and sociopolitical permeability - the openness and flexibility to incorporate new issues which society considers of general interest.
Research (and extension) agendas must be responsive to the changing needs of users and clients. Establish local and eco-regional councils to define research demands and priorities and introduce interdisciplinary and (eventually) inter-institutional research projects. Decentralized management must give a high degree of autonomy to research centres (and agricultural extension stations) over budget and resource allocation, and establish mechanisms to improve the monitoring of emerging national and international needs and opportunities.
Major Steps: 1. Review internal documents; 2. Develop future scenarios for agricultural research (or agricultural extension); 3. Create a secretariat for strategic management; 4. Define guiding principles for the change process; 5. Publish information (for employees) on the change process; 6. Organize change process seminars; 7. Provide training in strategic planning; 8. Execute internal seminars; 9. Formulate baseline strategic plans; 10. Evaluate plans with stakeholders; 11. Formulate revised strategic plans; 12. Evaluate consistency of strategic plans; 13. Solicit international evaluation; 14. Pursue political negotiation; 15. Formulate revised strategic plans; and 16. Implement strategic changes.