Objective: Get the most suitable person to be able to organise and lead the CDS process.

This checklist is an input into defining a Terms of Reference.

Help think through the sort of person needed to lead the CDS process and to write a Terms of Reference

Mayor and management team involved in setting up a CDS process

All involved

This is a checklist of the competencies to look for when trying to select a person to co-ordinate the CDS process. It a difficult, almost impossible task to find the perfect person. It is also not possible to standardise because the role of the coordinator is complementary to the role of the mayor and the extent of involvement of the mayor will vary from city to city and mayor to mayor.

Where a CDS is being run for the first time there will be a lot of innovation needed – it is not enough to know the bureaucratic routines of how things are normally done – it is also necessary to understand how things need to change in order to set and meet new objectives.

To put this list together we have consulted research on the subject and also linked that in with our own practical experience.

The reason that this tool is placed at the start of the list of tools is because the decision on appointing the coordinator is one of the most important that will be made. First, some key qualities in the person are highlighted and then a list of important competencies.



Trusted and respected. This is a new way of working and many people may feel threatened. Being able to trust and respect the person is an essential foundation. Trust of the mayor is vital, but widely held trust essential if different departments are to work together

Able to learn quickly. There will be many new situations arising which will require new knowledge and innovative approaches.



Being competent in an area means not only that the person has knowledge but also is able to apply it – which involves also attitudes and skills. The following list highlights important areas of competency. No one person will have all these in full, but if the person has earned trust and is able to learn quickly, then lacking areas of knowledge can be overcome.


The co-ordinator comes under the leadership of the mayor but has to show leadership within his or her team.

Collaborative and Multidisciplinary working/ teamwork

A CDS is all about working between existing departments and organizations to get better results.

Planning and organization

Planning of the process is essential and organization of the people involved is challenging because many will not be under the control of the co-ordinator. This is why the personality of the co-ordinator is critical.

Ethics and ethical values

Linked to the quality of being trusted by internal and external partners, the ethics of the person are extremely important. This can be critical if external financial support is being sought. Key words include respect and tolerance.

Internal and external stakeholder management

This includes a wide range of competencies including

  1. able to work at different levels of the bureaucracy
  2. interdisciplinary working
  3. Community involvement
  4. Private sector participation
  5. Negotiation
  6. Mediation
  7. Advocacy
  8. Conflict management
  9. Understanding dynamics

Political understanding

A strategic plan is about helping to direct resources towards commonly agreed goals. Politics is about directing resources. There is a close connection and it requires special competence to be be able to work in this difficult area.

Knowledge management including communication

Knowledge is often used as a gate to power and influence – so encouraging sharing can be difficult. At the same time, knowledge sharing is essential for coordinated urban development and for transparency.

Financial management

A CDS process requires its own finance and financial management as well as understanding the potential finance for development and its maintenance.

Risk management

A CDS has to be aware of risks and try to build resilience into the strategy. Risks also occur during the process itself and need to be managed.

Project and process management

Competencies are required in this area in order to obtain and coordinate the use of the human and financial resources that are essential.

Urban development management

Last but not least it is important that the person has understanding of urban development management – how city services work, how land development works, dynamics of markets, formal and informal, how a city earns its living and the impacts on the environment.


Overall, the checklist describes a “superman or superwoman“ who is unlikely to exist – but seeking in this direction is vital. Finally, it is about finding a person who is widely trusted and is able to get people to work towards common goals and to succeed.


[1] The basic competence list was adapted from Sohmen, V. S. and Dimitriou, C. K. 2015. Ten core competencies of program managers : an empirical study. It was added to from Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), Skill and competencies for planners and from the author’s experience. Notes are by the author.


Provides a list to discuss what is really important


No one person is likely to have all competencies

Terms of Reference of coordinator

Generally accessible documents:

This list was developed from two main sources – The Royal Town Planning Institute of United Kingdom, a research paper on experience in program management and the practical insights from the experience of the author.

The external references are:

Sohmen, V. S. and Dimitriou, C. K. 2015. Ten core competencies of program managers : an empirical study. International Journal of Health and Economic Development, 1 (1), pp. 1-7

Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), Skill and competencies for planners