Why Strategic Planning Matters: Interview with Hakan Harman, CEO of Multicultural NSW

In 2014, Fyusion worked with then newly-appointed CEO of Multicultural NSW, Hakan Harman, to develop the agency’s Corporate Plan. The resulting document Harmony in Action: Strategic Plan 2014-17 gave MNSW a roadmap to achieve their strategic vision over the following three years.

At the end of this three-year period, Fyusion Principal Consultant Amy Simpson-Deeks met with Hakan Harman to talk about his experience of implementing Harmony in Action, what he had learned from the process, and why strategic planning matters.

Fyusion: What are you currently doing in terms of strategic planning for Multicultural NSW?

HH: We are coming to the end of Harmony in Action and are looking at the next iteration of our strategic vision for Multicultural NSW. We built Harmony in Action in 2014 as a roadmap for where we wanted to get to, with detailed actions, and have delivered on all of the things we identified as objectives.

Our next plan is being developed as a higher-level strategy for Multicultural NSW, and one that can be adopted more widely across the public sector in terms of embedding a cultural diversity lens into the work of all NSW Government agencies.

Fyusion: How well has Harmony in Action stood up over time?

HH: Across all of the government changes we have seen in the last three years, Harmony in Action has stood the test of time with all of our key partners and across agencies. This has also been the feedback from external stakeholders outside of government.

Harmony in Action is perceived as visionary and positive. People reflect on the transformation of the agency under this strategy, including our relocation, and the new organisational structure with many new staff. We have also received additional funding to implement a telephone interpreting service and to implement the transfer of full responsibility for settlement immigration planning for the state.

We have received significant additional funding for the COMPACT program (which stands for Community, in Partnership, taking Action to safeguard Australia's peaceful and harmonious way of life) as part of our grants program. Stakeholders have become better connected to MNSW, including through the reconstitution of our Regional Advisory Council structure.

Fyusion: Why do you think Harmony in Action has been successful? What did you do when building this strategy that has allowed it to succeed?

HH: Getting buy-in from a full cross-section of stakeholders into the final document was one key thing. We consulted very widely, with key stakeholders across government, communities, advisory committees and regional councils. The final plan resonated with everyone.

It was also timing. People understood the need to refresh the agency and welcomed involvement in building Multicultural NSW.

Fyusion: How will you engage stakeholders in developing your next strategic plan?

HH: For our next strategic plan, we are engaging with those who contributed in 2014, and have also broadened our external engagement further. We are basically saying, ‘We are closing the Harmony in Action chapter; how did we do, and what can we do better?’

We are in many facets a different/new organisation now. The next strategic plan will be our first real opportunity to look at Multicultural NSW and reimagine our future.

Fyusion: Part of developing Harmony in Action was creating a vision statement for Multicultural NSW. Why do you think it is important to articulate an organisational vision?

HH: This enables people to connect with the remit of the agency, and it enables you to get buy in from people. This is particularly important for us in dealing with social cohesion and harmony. Building cohesion can be made a bit easier when you are trying to do something that clearly resonates with a societal good.

The profile of Multicultural NSW is growing. We need to continue our collaborative nature and being an indispensable part of the machinery of government. We also need to keep innovating the manner in which we positively embed an understanding of cultural diversity as one of our state’s most significant assets.