Mapping a Transformation Journey: A Strategy for Malaysia's Future, 2009-2010

When Prime Minister Najib Razak took office in April 2009, he aimed to set Malaysia on a new course. The nation’s economy was stagnating in the wake of the global financial crisis, and citizen discontent with government performance had led to the worst election results for the ruling coalition since independence from the United Kingdom in 1957. To turn the country in a new direction, Najib created a new post in the Cabinet—Minister for National Unity and Performance Management—and appointed Koh Tsu Koon, president of a party in the ruling coalition, to the position. Koh assembled a team and proposed a series of Cabinet workshops to determine leadership priorities. The team reached out to an economic council tasked with piloting the country to higher levels of economic growth and engaged diverse members of Malaysian society in substantive discussions. During a two-year period, the team’s findings evolved into a national transformation strategy. Strong leadership from the top combined with data- and research-driven approaches helped streamline priorities and generate buy-in. The strategy helped improve government performance and increase private investment. Nonetheless, public reaction was mixed, and critics charged that the entire undertaking was too narrow in scope. This case offers insights about how to design a consultative strategy development process in a country with a diverse population.

This teaching case is available for purchase here.

Authored by Elena Lesley.

Published by Innovations for Successful Societies.

Economy, MalaysiaNYSEAN