Using management theory to govern states

Management principles and processes need not be restricted to companies. The same can also be applied to make states more accountable and transparent

Published: 28th May 2021 12:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th May 2021 09:06 AM   |  A+A-

For representational purposes (Express Illustrations by Soumyadip Sinha)

Peter Drucker is considered as the father of management. He was a knowledgeable person and asked some piercing and hard-hitting questions to companies to improve their awareness to run businesses effectively. His theories in management can be adapted to the governance of states as well.

Management theory, principles and processes should not be restricted to companies. The same can also be applied to make states more accountable, transparent and responsible for governance.

We have witnessed a fierce surge of Covid-19 in India. We had historical evidence that almost all countries had dealt with a bad second wave of Covid-19. India had dealt with Covid impressively in the first wave. But no one perhaps expected such a violent second wave and therefore preparations fell short.

Companies like Shell and even the Indian military routinely forecast different scenarios, predict the outcome and do contingency planning to prepare for any eventuality. The NITI Aayog, which is the planning wing of the Central government, perhaps could have used a tool called ‘scenario planning’ in management and forecasted different possibilities. It could have asked the Union government and states to make contingency plans. This could have helped in making preparations for oxygen, hospital beds, vaccination, medicines and doctors to face the second wave better. However, the Centre has moved fast and progress has been made to get oxygen, medicines, etc., and the second wave seems to be coming down.

For the benefit of companies and state leaders, I am mentioning some questions Prof. Drucker asked to improve planning and govern effectively.

1. “What is your mission?” Mission tells us what we want to achieve. Does your company or state have a clear mission as to what it wants to achieve by the next year and in the next three years? Is it clear about the objectives it wants to achieve and what it wants to see as the results? Has it developed milestones and evaluation parameters?

When Joe Biden became the President of the US, he set a mission that the US would vaccinate 200 million people in 100 days of his being in office. He has achieved it and the US is going back to normalcy. It is always a good idea to pick up the best practices in management. We can also create a vaccination mission and roll it out. India is a vast country with 1.35 billion people and therefore it is not easy. However, vaccination is the only solution.

2. “Is your company or state clear in what it should be known for, or known as? What is the perception you want to create in the minds of the citizens? Do you have a communication plan as to how you will build the image of your state or company by implementing some solid good work?” We are witnessing in state after state that when the CM has done real good work for citizens, she/he is getting elected for second and third terms.

3. “What is the value proposition of your company or state?” In the present geopolitical context, no one is alone. We are always competing with others. All countries and companies will need to have a value proposition. If your company or state has a value proposition, it will help it differentiate itself from others and get out of the clutter. The question to ask is how do we differentiate ourselves from others.

4. “Who is your customer?” How well do you know your customers? What do they want from you? Who is the customer for the chief minister of a state? Is the CM making attempts to know his/her citizens and trying to understand what they want?

5. “What is your business plan for the next year? What do you want to achieve?” A CEO/CM has to make a business plan, not just a budget, to govern the state.

6. “What can I, as a leader, contribute that can significantly impact the results of the institution I serve?” Jim Collins, an American researcher on business management, says a good leader has great vision and is ruthlessly driven for results.

7. “What should be the personal traits of a leader?” A true leader should be modest. Collins wrote in his book Good To Great that Level-5 leaders are self-effacing, listen attentively and very humble. He said that no company can grow where the truth cannot be heard. I guess the same applies to the nation and states. We must increase the agility of employees by engaging them to give ideas and allowing them to experiment. We must implement OKR as Google, Facebook, etc., are doing.

We have been advising companies to use scenario planning to forecast different possibilities and prepare for the future. We also ask the above questions to the top management of the companies so that they can think and create plans to improve productivity and profitability. This process has helped a large number of BFSI, media, agrochemical and manufacturing companies to improve profits.

Ashoke K Maitra
(Founder & CEO Sri Ramakrishna International Institute of Management)


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