As speculation grows about the timing of Bob Zoellick’s departure announcement, it’s time to reflect on the process, and on the qualifications for his successor, independently of speculation on good or bad potential candidates.
In June 2007 the Executive Directors of the World Bank should have set in place their own oversight mechanisms, and procedures for evaluating Zoellick’s performance, and that of his management team. They didn’t do that.
A way to start would have been to get the a baseline measure of his skills as a manager and leader, from what he had done before in his long years in the US government, and his brief stints at Goldman Sachs and Fannie Mae. They didn’t do that.
They might also have agreed on a private annual feedback process from Board members, based on input from staff, senior colleagues, and clients on their interactions with him. They didn’t do that.
In 2007 very few anticipated the Great Recession, and its impact on both rich and poor countries, but they could have asked Bob Zoellick for his vision of the future of the World Bank Group, and his ideas for leading the organization and its stakeholders–including the Executive Directors–toward that vision. They didn’t do that.
As Robert Zoellick prepares to move on, maybe, to use IDA tagline’s, “now is the time.”