to a ‘technical’ vendors/consultants who have a limited strategic lens, poor systemic overview and often have incentives that are not entirely aligned with those of the state.
While the ultimate decision-making authority needs to continue to rest with the line administrator or bureaucrat—what is required are small but highly focused and capable teams who are tasked with the implementation design and are given adequate timelines to do so. These teams need to undertake the research, analysis, option design and evaluation—and hence assist the bureaucrats in their decision making.
3. Strong change management capability closer to the ground: To say that implementing a transformative solution that touches 67% of India’s 1.2 billion population and that involves 500,000 fair price shops, or a solution to be rolled in more than 1 million public schools across the country or something that needs to be done in the 6-lakh-plus villages is no easy task is a gross understatement. The best of the brains across the world will shudder with managing a change programme that spans that scale. However, time and again our policy implementation plans seem to indicate that we believe this can happen by the same people working in the same way as they have done for years—all we need to do is throw a small project management team and some training and communication budget their way. It is truly time we recognised that is impossible.
As we look to transform our age-old systems, as we look to the on-the-ground service deliverers (whether they be teaches/headmasters in schools, Asha workers in ICDS or FPS owners in the TPDS) to adopt new technologies, new processes, as we look to beneficiaries becoming more comfortable with a new system (that’s likely far better in the long term but confounding and seemingly difficult in the short term), it requires a change management exercise of a massive proportion. This capability cannot be assumed to be embedded in the existing systems and needs to be budgeted and provided separately just like the technical capability mentioned in point.
The specific change management challenges for each initiative need to be thought through, complexities, roadblocks identified and highlighted and people and processes brought in to manage this. Without this capability, the best of systems and technologies are unlikely to yield significant benefit.
4. Appropriate outcomes orientation: The examination of many of the schemes closely reveals that the focus is often biased towards the input to be provided