Indian bureaucracy needs game changing transformation
Recently Prime Minister Narendra Modi made it crystal clear that the Government is in favour of “reforming, performing and transforming” the Indian bureaucracy to make it a change agent instead of keeping it as an archaic architecture incapable of good go
Why is so much antagonism against once the much-acclaimed Max Weber’s hierarchically structured system? It is a fact that the quality of governance is largely a reflection on the performance of the Government which is dependent on the competence of its bureaucracy. An efficient bureaucracy can only plan, design, implement, monitor, and take timely deterrent, corrective and preventive action for a desired outcome.
The current trend across the world is that the top-down approach in any entity is down. What’s up is a horizontal, vertical, bottom-up, top-down and all-round 360-degree free flow of ideas and communication. The conventional compartmentalized silo approach is unable to find fine ideas to edge an organization to survive in a fiercely competitive present-day world.
Holacracy is the evolving unique alternative to the traditional hierarchical organizational structure and the “flat management” approach. Holacracy is based on a flexible organizational structure and discipline. It delineates clearly the roles and accountabilities of individuals and teams, providing them increased autonomy in decisionmaking for problem resolution without the conventional bureaucracy which is vested in the monopoly of wisdom of the top bosses on the rooftop of the pyramid.
Busting the traditional bureaucracy is possible only when it can be substituted or reformed by a credible alternative. Disruptive innovation is generally an anathema to bureaucrats. The challenge before the Government, business and corporates is to find customer insights to add value for arriving at new ways to solve complex issues of governance, administration and management. Silicon Valley companies are leading the world in knowledge management, creativity and intellectual leadership. The tech-savvy companies compete among themselves breeding baby ideas to grow giant size to conquer the whole world. The rules are all set for game changing, allowing no rules to impede problem solving by innovation.
The traditional bureaucracy seldom promotes knowledge leadership, a free flow of ideas and effective communication in the entity as it is driven by authority, and an unquestionable unitary status of command and power. It has to pave the way for new thinking, generating maximum possibilities and options. Its emerging organizational leadership cannot ignore to adapt itself to new methods for its survival.
NEED FOR PRAGMATISM
The business of governance needs pragmatism and continuous improvement. Bureaucrats must be ready to factor in a customer feedback rather than degenerating themselves into control freaks. The efficacy of doing things is tested by the ease of achieving the results. Control and discipline are important but these aspects must not be overwhelming to subdue the higher ideals of total alignment with the organization’s vision, mission, goals and targets. Accountability, flexibility, risk-taking and result orientation are inevitable perquisites for the present-day bureaucracy to bring a breakthrough in problem resolution.
As the bureaucratic paraphernalia is multi-layered, it adds overheads by retaining redundant structures by duplicating things, and causing delays. The decision-making power needs to be decentralized based on specific knowledge, skills and expertise. Incentives and rewards have to be based on merit and competency.
When PM Modi talked about “minimum government, maximum governance”, he was probably hinting at de-bureaucratic functioning. To cite an example, the Civil Services Examination is for the recruitment of officers for 24 services having divergent prospects. The same examination and the interview divide and discriminate officers since the recruitment is based merely on rank. The supremacy is based only on the initial service and rank which can only be altered by reappearing at the competitive examination rather than providing opportunities to excel during the course of the career based on administrative talent, leadership attributes, decisionmaking abilities, proven competence, knowledge and skills.
The divide and rule policy in the initial recruitment is compounded by a system promoted by different ways of recruitment and promotion in Group A, B, and C categories of government service. The nature of service and cadre and the method of entry permanently determine promotion prospects, bringing the multiplicity of castes and creeds in the plethora of categories of the Indian bureaucracy which encourage animosity among members of the Services. ■
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A file picture of PM NAreNdrA Modi interacting with senior bureaucrats