Why is the Foundation based in Liechtenstein?
The Principality of Liechtenstein is the ideal location for the Foundation and perfectly suited as the forum for the Platform’s training program. Centrally situated in the heart of Europe this extraordinary country is a hereditary monarchy on a democratic and parliamentary basis. Liechtenstein’s political neutrality and strong relations worldwide make it the perfect choice for the Foundation’s operations and activities, and the country’s beautiful sites delight training program participants from all parts of the world.
The vision of the Reigning Prince, H.S.H. Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein, and the Hereditary Prince, H.S.H. Hereditary Prince Alois of Liechtenstein, on healthy and sustainable forms of state governance are expressed by the Princely House’s commitment to significant sovereign issues, evidenced, among others, by the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination at Princeton University, and by the Reigning Prince’s recent book, The State in the Third Millennium.
What makes the Platform more effective than other development and reform efforts?
For decades, development institutions and donor nations have attempted to provide development assistance to countries worldwide. Tremendous sums have been spent throughout the years on external experts and advisers, who regularly attempt to import those models and “solutions” that they are familiar with – models that are often far from perfect in the advisers’ own countries, and almost always useless in the recipient country, because they fail to take the country’s particular political, economic, historical, legal, social and cultural realities into account. Instead, the Foundation’s approach is radically different: rather than import inept “solutions”, it focuses on the complete transfer of the knowledge base to key professionals and decision makers in a particular country, together with all the necessary tools to ensure that this very knowledge base can and will be implemented.
In addition to the knowledge arsenal and the execution tools, the Foundation’s Platform contains extensive public education programs to ensure that development efforts are not only carried out by local capacity on an informed basis, but also that the general population can experience, participate in, and benefit from these initiatives that are vital to the country’s development. This allows a country to determine its own reform goals and to implement its initiatives based on its own national interests and aspirations.
Is the Platform based on any particular national model?
The Platform is not based on any particular national model, but rather incorporates best practices from countries and regulatory regimes worldwide. The Foundation has made a conscious decision not to advocate any particular dogma or philosophical approach in its Platform, but rather to incorporate modules that work and have a proven track record. This pragmatic approach ensures that the reforms and development efforts in a particular country do not remain empty rhetoric, but instead are effective and sustainable in the long term.
How does the Platform work?
The Platform consists of three primary pillars: Education, Infrastructure and Execution. Each pillar has several programs with numerous modules devoted to an essential state need, such as public education and capacity building for Education; legislation, regulatory reform, structure of efficient and effective supervisory institutions, financial markets and stock exchanges, and court reform for Infrastructure; and implementation and transaction realization for Execution.
One of the essential qualities of the Platform that ensures its success and effectiveness is the inclusion of all the necessary implementation tools in addition to the actual knowledge transfer. As an example, the legislation modules contain not only the heavily annotated model laws with their various alternative options and permutations, but also all the ancillary modules that are necessary to ensure the laws’ actual implementation, such as project and task force software for the national team mandated with the particular project ("who does what? how? when?"), as well as media kits and press releases to explain the process to the press and the general public, thereby inserting badly needed transparency and accountability. Through this approach, the Platform addresses two glaring weaknesses of traditional academic and technical assistance initiatives: no longer should critical development efforts in all areas of state governance be purely academic exercises without practical applicability, and no longer should technical assistance initiatives be driven by outside advisers who only deliver excessive diagnostic reports and "solutions" based on the prevalent practices in their own jurisdictions, without any implementation guidelines and safeguards. Instead, the Platform combines academic excellence with practical applicability, together with all the tools to ensure actual, tangible and visible results.
How long does it take for the Platform modules to be implemented, and how much tailoring to a country’s particular needs is required?
A country facing a particular developmental challenge, such as the need for comprehensive economic reform, cannot afford to wait for several years for the changes to take place and be felt by its general public. In fact, this lack of patience has been one of the reasons why misguided external models have been imported through outside experts, instead of focusing on the creation of a core group of professionals within the country that possess the technical know-how and skills as well as the integrity to execute these reforms in accordance with the country’s particular objectives and reality. The Foundation has recognized this problem and addressed with one of the Platform’s primary features: it is immediately implementable and in all respects ready-to-market. For example, the public education programs contain multi-episode television and radio programs and games that can be produced within days, together with project and task force software that instructs every member of the implementing team what to do at which time in order to meet the given deadlines and objectives.
Each one of the Platform’s programs can be implemented immediately, based on the instructions of the country’s government. The parameters for the tailoring of the various Platform modules are an integral part of the Platform and are explained and taught to the initial country team that is sent to Vaduz for training at the Foundation’s training center. Because of the seamless manner in which these tailoring parameters are integrated in the Platform modules themselves, the adaptation to the country’s specific needs can take place immediately and without causing any delay to the overall implementation.
How can the Platform know-how be transferred in one week to the initial team from a country?
The initial team that is selected by a particular country and sent to Vaduz undergoes a very intensive training program at the Foundation’s training center. In the course of this week, all the team members are taught the Platform’s methodology and manner of implementation, and are given a substantive introduction to all the Platform modules. Thereafter, in several group as well as one-on-one sessions, the team members are introduced to the particular subject matter that is of specific relevance to their profession and area of activity. For example, members of parliament and representatives of the ministry of justice are instructed with higher intensity in legislation modules; representatives of bank, insurance or capital markets regulatory and supervisory authorities are instructed with higher intensity in supervisory agency modules; lawyers and judges are instructed with higher intensity in court reform modules; journalists and members of the media are instructed with higher intensity in public education modules; teachers and academics are instructed with higher intensity in capacity building modules.
This concentrated and targeted approach, which focuses not only on contents but also on methodology, allows the Platform’s knowledge base to be transferred in a short and intensive training period.
How can the application and implementation of the acquired Platform knowledge be ensured in a particular country?
One of the most damaging aspects of failed development and reform efforts worldwide is that countless initiatives, despite being well-funded and based on the best intentions, never are implemented. Many reasons exist for these persistent failures, including meaningless project selection criteria, lack of local support and motivation, careless waste of funds on (at best) useless features, inexperienced advisers, or simple disinterest and absence of sustained commitment after some initial enthusiasm.
Despite the multitude of such causes, one common denominator that is always present in failed development and reform projects is the utter absence of strict, disciplined and mandatory work distribution guidelines for the task force mandated with the implementation of the projects. These guidelines are usually missing not only out of negligence, but also because no effort is being made to transfer the know-how to the local professionals and decision makers, together with the necessary implementation tools. Instead, external advisers have a natural incentive to avoid strict and mandatory implementation guidelines and milestones for their own projects, and it has proven to be illusory to expect external advisers to introduce accountability parameters for their own work. As a result, delays, mutations and aborted projects become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The Foundation has addressed this critical issue by providing the local team members, who are mandated with the implementation of the various Platform modules, with very detailed and specific tasks and milestone guidelines as an integral part of the Platform modules, and failures to comply with these guidelines are automatically flagged and reported to the central command of the overall project administration. This important Platform feature inserts the vital ingredient of accountability to much needed development and reform efforts, by ensuring that know-how is not only acquired – in itself indeed a worthy goal – but also applied and implemented for the benefit of the country and its general population.
Where is the Platform’s immediate as well as long-term value tangibly manifested?
The transfer of the Platform know-how to the initial country team that is selected and sent to Vaduz for training immediately creates a critical mass of professionals and decision makers who are now in possession of international best practices in their particular area of expertise, and are now armed with the tools to succeed with their respective responsibilities. Furthermore, since the Platform’s programs are implementable without delay, because the tailoring parameters are built into the pertinent modules, an immediate result can be achieved and measured in the near term. For example, public education episodes on television, radio or print can be produced, aired or published within just a few days; legislation can be proposed to parliament within weeks; professionals such as lawyers, economists, judges, journalists and academics, who undergo the Platform’s capacity building training program, are within weeks given the specialized technical know-how they need to succeed and excel. In fact, all the Platform modules have immediate applicability that can be felt and measured in tangible ways, such as a functional supervisory authorities, added liquidity on a stock exchange due to increased public awareness and participation, successful corporatization and privatization of state-owned enterprises, and many additional results.
At the same time, the successful transfer of knowledge and application tools contained in the Platform lead, in the medium- and long-term, to a heightened and emancipated level of understanding and awareness not only among the professionals undergoing the training, but also among the general population that has benefited from several months of concerted public education campaigns. Even this form of medium- and long-term value can be measured and quantified, for example through an increase in bank account openings by individuals who now recognize that it is neither safe nor prudent to keep their money under the proverbial mattress, or who now know that they should not trust an "expert" who tells them of a magical investment opportunity that "guarantees" them a return of 100% in just a matter of weeks – issues and scenarios that are expressly and vividly dealt with in dedicated television episodes of the Platform’s public education program.
In addition to illustrating and explaining the short-, medium- and long-term value of the Platform, in the training sessions for the countries’ representatives the Foundation’s staff places a strong emphasis on questioning conventional measuring parameters for a nation’s progress and health by challenging the country team to reflect critically on factors such as economic growth and increased gross domestic product, and by introducing concern for human and social wellbeing as relevant factors, as evidenced for example in the considerable social costs of joblessness or the public health impact of pollution.
How can the success of a particular Platform initiative be measured?
The Foundation defines the success of a Platform initiative as the completed transfer of knowledge and its implementation in a country. At the same time, the country, in which the Platform modules are applied, needs to have the tools to measure the success of a particular Platform initiative or to fix any flaws or shortcomings that have come to the fore in the execution process (such as, for example, unsatisfactory levels of viewership for the educational television programs).
In order to enable a country to measure the success of a particular Platform initiative, the Foundation has integrated parameters with respect to schedule adherence and accomplishment milestones into the Platform modules, together with specific tools to address possible factors that could influence the effectiveness and success of an initiative (such as, in the same example of unsatisfactory levels of viewership for the educational television program: targeted advertisement campaigns for specific population groups; selection criteria for the television hosts in order to appeal to a broader audience; game segments in each television episode to bind viewers throughout the entire program; or timing acceleration between each episode in order to keep the audience interested and involved).
How can the licensee government recover the license fee?
A government can recover the license fee for the Platform in three principal ways: First, the public education program, and in particular the television episodes, are ideally suited for sponsoring and advertisement, and the placement of the programming in primetime television slots can generate considerable revenues from institutions that wish to sponsor episodes or buy advertisement time in programs that are watched by large parts of the population. Generally, the sponsorship of the television episodes alone can allow a government to recover the entire license fee, and additional sponsorship and advertisement revenues can flow to the government from the radio program as well as the internet and print publications.
Second, many modules themselves have considerable financial market applicability and value, such as corporate governance, due diligence, annual report or prospectus models and guidelines, and the government can sublicense these modules to public- and private parties in the country’s financial and capital markets for sublicense fees that in turn allow a recovery of the original license fee to the Foundation for the use of the Platform.
Third, in cases where the licensing government follows the Foundation’s recommendation and creates a dedicated Center for Excellence and Education in order to increase the pool of skilled professionals and decision makers through ongoing training of qualifying candidates, the government can demand a membership or subscription fee from participating institutions that have the privilege of sending their representatives to the Center for this training in the Platform. Often, this third mode of fee recovery is combined with a sublicense fee for the actual use of the Platform modules by the participants.
Which ongoing assistance does the Foundation staff provide following the initial training in Vaduz?
Following the training in the Foundation’s training center in Vaduz, the Foundation’s staff provides ongoing support to the country team that was sent to Vaduz, especially as the modules are being tailored by members of that team for specific application. The Foundation’s staff also guides the country team and its administrators in the creation and structuring of a dedicated Center for Excellence and Education in the licensing country, in order to maximize the effectiveness of the Platform’s implementation. Through the Foundation’s alumni network, LFSG Connect, country participants are kept informed of Platform updates and new developments in areas of interest.