National strategic documents should be based on residents’ consensus regarding their current state and future opportunities being as much as possible based on realistic understanding of their strengths and weaknesses to be able to realistically plan for the future.

I feel Slovenia, The Brand of Slovenia, Published by the Ministry of Economy, developed by Pristop, 2007

I feel Slovenia, The Brand of Slovenia, Published by the Ministry of Economy, developed by Pristop, 2007

Luckily Slovenia implemented a strong process defining the brand of Slovenia some years ago being later formulated as I feel Slovenia which is less important than messages being incorporated in a whole brand and its background. They tell who we are and what are we able to do in the future.

The Story of Slovenia is based on some facts from being enthusiastic towards everything we enjoy to being different and being oriented towards our vision: green boutiqueness to be delivered through mission oriented towards development with nature. The band is being very clear on Slovenians: we are society of individuals with common goals, we wish to contribute and we want to live in a safe state because we respect diversity where society’s quality of life depends on the individual’s balance. In economic terms we do understand that we need to be focused on niches while organic development is a denominator of

I feel Slovenia, The Brand of Slovenia, Published by the Ministry of Economy, developed by Pristop, 2007

I feel Slovenia, The Brand of Slovenia, Published by the Ministry of Economy, developed by Pristop, 2007The Brand of Slovenia, Published by the Ministry of Economy, developed by Pristop, 2007

our prosperity.  Slovenia is a tourist destination with diversity based on desires while green is the color of people and their environment.  Culture is our value while everybody is an artist while our interests and proximity are keys to science. Movement towards natural limits is in us in sports but is spread in all areas we live and work in. (Full document can be found here.)

Some could argue that all of these are just words but if you really look to us internally and if you really take time to explore our inner circles and the society we live in you will find answers very similar to what the brand says.

So while preparing the National Development Plan we have a rather simple work to be done while we should be careful of two important points:

  • Strategic planning process is a knowledge process not a document preparation. In order to be successful State will need to create large learning loop in order to get people understand their inner circle and our basic starting points this will help institutions and people get on. By developing knowledge on who we really are and how can we really be successful will give us a momentum to change borders in our heads. The logic of me being stupid and you being the most smart one will be turned to how can we function in the global market where only the best can survive.
  • Strategic planning is successful if it supports what you are and what you able to achieve. Strategic documents must be developed to support all of us to be what we are and support us in opportunities we have. By developing measures which support what we are not is damaging our future and our opportunities. Measures need to be in line with simple facts lied down in the Story of Slovenia not in some socio-economic analysis without understanding a context of data and analysis collected.

European union is asking us to understand our smart specialization in order to be able to use scares development resources more focused and concentrated and in order to get our priorities straight. Well easy task for us, we know it, our priority is: Getting people busy. Very busy.

Smart specialization sectors for next planning period may be seen as:

  • Further support to tourism.
  • Entrepreneurship and innovation in strong coordination with art, culture and sport to use our creativeness for personal and entrepreneurial growth and science.
  • Mobilization of government to govern and enable growth.

This offers a list of potential packages of measures for the National Development Plan:

  • Spatial efficiency and polycentric development (being focused to spatial, agriculture and rural, environmental and transport, regional and local development type policies).
  • Knowledge loop (being focused to social, education, administration, innovation type policies).
  • Cooperated entrepreneurship and innovation (being focused to business, education, administration, innovation, rural and agricultural type policies).
  • Public private partnership to employ the national capital (being focused to administration, education, financial and monetary type policies). 

Regions are in process of strategic positioning data analysis is a weak part of this challenge  so we found some interesting and very short guiding principles in doing this interesting job. Read this before you start thinking of analyzing the region.

I was talking to an old friend the other day who is involved in using the results of research to help grow a business. He told me some interesting stories that made me revisit some basic tenets of good analysis. Yes, you may think that some of these are obvious, but they still bear repeating. Here are seven interrelated principles to start with:

  • Process is a way of thinking, not a substitute for thinking. You’d be surprised at how many people fall into this trap. For example, in behavioral research certain metrics might be the norm for capture. These might include the number of times that eye contact was made, or the quality of the interaction with the examiner. However, simply because others have used these “tried and true” measures doesn’t mean that they necessarily fit the situation you’re currently examining. Think about it.
  • Data needs to be thought about and reported in context. This is a pet peeve for me. If someone tells me that 1.5 million Americans were out of work at some point during the Great Depression I may think that is terrible, but I don’t really understand what that means because that fact was not put into context. I don’t know what percent of the working population this represents, or for that matter if it includes women or other groups. When a vendor tells me that Company X saved $20M by utilizing its product, that’s great but what does it really mean? What percent of its overall costs whether by department or company does
    Radionica: Početak analize razvojnih partnera

    Radionica: Početak analize razvojnih partnera

    this represent? How is another company, looking at this information, supposed to respond unless it understands what the data mean in context.

  • Look before you leap. Before you start applying statistical techniques or cranking out charts and reports, take a good hard look at the data you’ve collected. Be thoughtful. Ask yourself some basic questions such as, “Do the data seem reasonable, complete, and accurate?” “What are the data suggesting?” “Is there some sort of hypothesis I can propose to test based on the data?” Often times people simply jump into running every sort of analysis on their data, simply because they can.
  • Question everything. If you are using the results from someone else’s analysis to build upon, you need to question how they got their results. Did this analysis make sense? How big was the sample? This is I hope a basic principle in scientific research but I haven’t seen it necessarily carried over into business. If your sales figures have jumped by 50%, you need to ask yourself, “Why?” Perhaps new products were added or new markets were tapped. Whatever the reason, make sure the data makes sense. Data quality is obviously important here.
  • Do a gut check. this is an extension of the question everything principle. Again, once you’ve done some analysis, you need to ask yourself whether it makes sense to you or not. Remember the old saying, if something is too good to be true it probably is. If your sales figures have jumped by 150%, you need to ask yourself if this is possible and then go and figure it out.
  • Coincidence is not the same as causality. Just because it may appear that two variables are somehow related it doesn’t mean that they are. Remember to question everything and do a gut check.
  • Just because the data exist doesn’t mean the data are relevant. Here, you need to ask yourself what you are trying to figure out. Just because you have the data doesn’t mean that the data are necessarily useful to your analysis.

via Seven guiding principles for analyzing data « Fern Halper’s data makes the world go ’round.

Several regions are thinking of applying for funding of energy agencies  in coming period. Before doing so it may be of importance to read an evaluation focused to operations and achievements of energy agencies round Europe.

Energy label, picture is from

Energy Label, picture is from

Value of energy agencies
  • Energy agencies are of local value because they provide information / advice to energy users, technical assistance and policy advice to public authorities, and facilitate the development of local sustainable energy markets.
  • Many of these activities require a long-term mandate and corresponding commitment from public authorities.
  • Information flows between agencies and EU policy makers (both bottom-up and top-down) need to be better structured and resourced. Existing feedback tools (including ManagEnergy) could be adapted to make bottom-up communication more effective and to facilitate its take-up at European level.
Demand for energy agencies
  • There is significant demand among a number of public authorities for the creation of energy agencies.
  • While the local added value of energy agencies is evident, there has been no observable snowball effect from the creation of the IEE energy agencies to date.
  • The current minimum population coverage of at least 200,000 people appears to be appropriate.
  • Agencies should only be created where they address a specific local demand, rather than merely to ensure a more equal geographic distribution.
Support for and sustainability of energy agencies
  • The majority of IEE funded energy agencies perceive the IEE establishment grant as appropriate in size.
  • EU support complements, rather than replaces, other sources of funding, and the number of energy agencies would be significantly smaller without IEE funding.
  • Securing local political support beyond the IEE funding period is vital for the sustainability of energy agencies, especially given the long-term orientation of many agency activities. While this has been forthcoming in most cases, there are examples where funding was discontinued prematurely, resulting in a scaling down of agency activities.
  • The availability of new sources of funding to ensure sustainability is a major concern for existing agencies. This is likely to exacerbate as agencies with larger IEE co-funding shares (up to 75%) approach the end of their work programme.
Organisation and work programme
  • The 3-year IEE work programme for new energy agencies is broadly appropriate and usually leads to successful and sustainable agencies.
  • Several administrative and legal structures (including the IEE model) are able to meet the needs of local authorities for energy advice and technical assistance.
  • Independence and not for profit status are important assets for energy agencies as they need to provide credible, high quality information, advice and assistance to a variety of stakeholders.
  • A simple and transparent evaluation and monitoring scheme could make this success more transparent to agencies themselves and to their stakeholders.

The evaluation of the relevance of Community funding of local and regional energy agencies was done by Matrix insight in cooperation with eco-logic and was prepared for the Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation. Oikos, namely Mojca Hrabar participated with evaluation of the energy agencies in Sweden, Spain, Bulgaria and Italy.


Financial problems of regional development appear in two phases of Program Cycle Management: in the formulation of the project and in its implementation.

The crucial part of the problem lies in the preparation of the project where the initial idea and definition of the project needs to be elaborated In the project preparation process several crucial questions regarding the project’s relevance, objectives, expected results, risks as well as financial and other obstacles need to be clarified before deciding – and this needs time and funds for the decisions to be taken based on serious studies and proposals. The technical preparation of a project, e.g. by a feasability study and by defining location, costs, duration, technical standars to be fulfilled, acceptance by population/supposed target group, etc. Can only be carried out based on regional strategies and priorities. If not done properly regions will not be able to implement any integrated strategies nor projects.

Volosko, Croatia, February 2013

Volosko February 2013

Most regional development policies rely on other sectorial policies to finance regional projects. If we are looking to national policies most of them are based on specific and detailed financial sector plans. Practically only regional and spatial policies offer an appropriate set of instruments to integrate projects on a territorial and on policy level. But these policy fields do not have own budgets for investment projects and need to collect the funding of the integrated projects from different sectors – and sometimes different EU-funds. This fact freezes all attempts of increasing sectoral integration. And also the European Union contributes to maintaining the situation by recommending sectors (transport, environment, economy…) to initiate and develop sectorial structures for the implementation of IPA and later structural policy. This disintegrates programmes and later on projects to sectors and leaves regional policy and other tools to work towards integration. Even European Commission calls for integration while recommendations go in the direction of disintegration of implementation structures.

Countries are later not able to pull the policies together and as research shows none of the countries studies has a system or tool in place to integrate policies on project level while regions are too weak in this respect. Some coordination has been tested in all countries with inter-ministerial working groups and similar in Slovenia with long list of priority projects of the country by 2023 developed by the Government of Slovenia but all of them fail as soon as they are let to be implemented by sectors. Apart from declarative coordination among rural, structural policies and other policies there is little or no real integration on the project level.

The article is a part of a comparative Study “Regional Development in South East Europe” Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia and Albania commissioned by Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Local Governance Programme South Caucasus done in November/ December  2012 by Stefan Elsing, strategieKONTOR and Jurij Kobal, Oikos, Sustainable development.


The EU-Cohesion Policy offers countries to choose their priorities and select them by own will based on internal analysis and decisions so is the national level to offer regions possibilities to choose priorities they need to follow and being able to finance to follow their priorities and strategies defined. Leaving the decision on priorities to regions raises their motivation to implement regional development strategies and capacity to implement them while national level’s function is to establish the necessary implementing structures and to supervise the transparency and efficiency of procedures. Strategies, priorities and implementing arrangements of regions need to be based on culture, history, tradition and opportunities of the region not on the base of decision of the Government or European Commission so should be funding opportunities.

The territorial dimension of regional development is important for the localisation of all kind of investment projects, which need to understand target groups and the relevance of priorities and results of regional development strategies for the target groups. Projects which are born and carried by broad decision making processes in the regions are “better” Projects in terms of impact and cohesion effects.

Considering the regional decision making a greater attention needs to be paid to urban cities and their capacity to form networks and partnerships in their territory. City networks or platforms will substantially support the identification and utilization of the regions` potential.

Budapest castle

Budapest castle

The national regional development policies in the countries are built on the experiences and approaches of the EU. Its cohesion policy is asking the regional level to develop integrated projects in order to reach target groups and minimize negative effect projects do have in their environment. Regional development strategies are here a welcome tool to develop complex or better integrated and cross-sectorial projects where several funding sources would be invested in order to share risks and intervene in the area of specialization of each fund available.

Moreover, EU-Cohesion Policy implementation is enforced by the EU and its legislation while national regional development policies are not. This can be considered as an advantage, because EU-Cohesion Policy can be the driving force of regional development policy formulation and implementation in a country/ region. Through the EU Integration process countries and regions are forced to think about regional development. The own national regional development benefits from the European Cohesion Policy, even if it is not in line with all its requirements.

Structures of cohesion policy remain administrative and rigid since their aim is to evaluate the project and implement it in a most efficient and transparent manner possible. People working in these structures are more technically trained and procedural. While on the other hand regional development strategies offer a more dynamics and room for changes and long-term view. It is the regional level to manage different projects and finance them from different programs while following the overall objective of the region.

The article is a part of a comparative Study “Regional Development in South East Europe” Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia and Albania commissioned by Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Local Governance Programme South Caucasus done in November/ December  2012 by Stefan Elsing, strategieKONTOR and Jurij Kobal, Oikos, Sustainable development.