Bureaucrats – Selection & Development
(Also solving the problem of Officer Shortage in the Armed Forces)
Understanding Bureaucracy – Learn discipline & to take orders before issuing orders – attitude of service before self – contract service period extendable on performance – lateral entry from Military and corporate world taking advantage of required expertise.
Quotations for consideration:
- “The perfect Bureaucrat every where is the man who manages to make no decisions and escapes all responsibility.” – Brooks Atkinson .
- “Any sufficiently advanced Bureaucracy is indistinguishable from molasses.” – Anon.
- “It is easy to prove a project or policy as a failure or as a success. To prove it failure just list the weaknesses without mentioning any strengths. To prove it a success list its strengths without mentioning the weaknesses.” – Anon.
- “Guaranteed salaries and tenured jobs and ‘No skin in the game’ i.e, benefits they claim credit for, losses they are protected from. Ex-post facto reasoning always shows the faults are not theirs or that they had actually predicted what they had really not. They thus believe that their intellectual contribution is greater than it really was and that they understood more than they really did.” – Nassim N. Taleb
- (Because power corrupts), Society’s demand for moral authority and character increases as the importance of the position increases.” – John Adams .
- “A light house is more than a building with a light on top of it. A light house is a building with a light and a commitment (of the keeper) to keep it burning… without the commitment to serve, it is just an interestingly shaped building with a light on it.” – Adm. James M. Lay
- “Put faith in the young officers, who have integrity, intellect, energy, drive and application and a commitment to make our Country prosperous. Pay must accord with performance, not time spent on the job.” – Lee Kuan Yew .
- “… it is always good to take competent men from outside the Services for specialized posts. That tones up the Services… Servicemen should realize that security in the Service depends on continued competence and efficiency and that they will not get promotions and indeed they may not (even) continue in the Service if they fail even normal standards” – Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru , speaking about the Civil Services.
- The Politician, the Professional & the Bureaucrat -need to constantly exhibit their worth.
“It’s much easier to sell ‘look what I did for you’ than ‘look what I avoided for you’ – ofcourse a bonus system based on ‘performance’ exacerbates the problem. No one becomes a hero for what they did not do. Even the doctor who advises letting the body cure itself instead of what may be an expensive intervention surgery, will not be as financially rewarded as the doctor who advises the surgery even if the odds favour self healing. The true hero in the ‘Black Swan’ world is the one who prevents a calamity and, naturally, because the
calamity did not take place, does not get recognition – or a bonus – for it. The aim is to avoid interfering with things we don’t understand” – Nassim N. Taleb.
- The ability to find a good explanation of why something could not or did not get done, is a skill that most Bureaucrats admire and seek to develop. They need to remember what Daniel Eagleman said – “Explanation does not equal exculpation” and would do better to seek the ability to find ways to do effectively what needs to be done and in time.
- “COMMAND is not about AUTHORITY but about RESPONSIBILITY.” – Anon.
- The pre-requisite for being put in to a position of giving orders is that one must have first served in a position to take and execute orders and develop a mind set of “Service before Self”.
- Ground Experience in various situations and of various types of tasks, and how to work as a team member, is essential to understand the implications of each situation / task one is faced with, and of each order one issues or policy one promotes (See Annexure – I below)
- Domain expertise and experience in Leadership and team work is essential to be able to properly administer / execute any task.
It is evident that the present method of selecting a bureaucrat via a onetime written examination and putting him / her through a few months of mostly administrative training is not working. Most new leaders try to quickly make their mark by doing exactly the opposite of what their predecessor was doing, or seek to gain immediate popularity by meeting the demands of the discontented in the organization, or of their political bosses, whether justified or not, and hence only end up harming the organization.