“Perfect numbers like perfect men are very rare.”
There are several parameters that are and can be used to measure activity, success or failure of any endeavor. The same applies to industries, departments, ministries and so on. But there are so many of these parameters that vital information gets jumbled in this incoherent jungle of numbers. The transfers of top level officials (and managers in industry) are sometimes so frequent, that the new man sitting at the top may change every few days.
In such situations, the new man for the job will naturally take some time to learn about the area under his purview. But due to the jungle of numbers thrown at him (by the staff from his unit), the official will take even more time to learn about his area of responsibility. And where there is ambiguity and confusion inefficiency and corruption creep in. By then, he is/may be transferred again and the cycle of adjusting repeats itself. This is one of the greatest hurdles in our system. This prevents us from taking quick decisions and providing better and faster public services.
Most of the times, the staff in government departments spend their time collecting and documenting data that nobody bothers about. Present in this heap of data will be some vital numbers or parameters which reflect the pulse of the system. If Read correctly, these numbers will tell us whether the department is doing the right job and moving in the right direction or not.
The need of the hour is to develop a protocol where only the correct, relevant and vital data is collected and presented, by supervising which an official is able to manage his department well and take it in the right direction. Interestingly, numbers tell us a lot of things, if we are ready to listen to them.
THE "MANAGERIAL INDEX PROTOCOL"
The MIP (for short) is a kind of index, consisting of a series of numbers/parameters which concerns that particular department. For example the vital indicators for the Indian economy is the following parameters.
GDP,GDP GROWTH RATE, PER CAPITA INCOME,FISCAL DEFICIT,TOTAL OIL IMPORT BILL, GROWTH OF ANNUAL FREIGHT CARRIED, TAX GROWTH RATE and so on.
These numbers give us a more or less accurate picture of the state of the Indian economy to a person who reads and understands these numbers. To give a brief but accurate idea of any functioning unit (industry, department or ministry) we need to focus on data which is just a page or two long. Even to supervise the functioning unit, we need only focus periodically on that one or two page of data/numbers/parameters. This kind of data is the managerial index as it will give a quick holistic idea of the functioning unit to the official to manage his department.
The system that will be put in place where only the correct, relevant and vital data(i.e. Managerial index) is collected and presented is known as the Managerial Index Protocol.
You might have visited a doctor. Now what does he do? He checks your pulse(which is a number-beats/minute), he listens to your heart rate- again a number. He checks your blood pressure, body temperature, blood glucose, hemoglobin,cholesterol and so on (all numbers!) and comes to a conclusion about your health status. If something is wrong he administers a particular dose (again a number!) of a particular drug, so as to bring your health parameters(numbers!) back to normal. The beauty of numbers lie in their interpretation.
The beauty of numbers lie in their interpretation. And professionals are trained to interpret numbers the right way in their areas of expertise. Thus the data presented i.e the managerial index must consist of parameters that make sense when interpreted together and also provide no opportunity to misrepresent facts.
For example, a District Commissioner/Magistrate is presented a managerial index for the health department in his district (it can even be an administrator in a UN governed area, or a department in any organisation). Now this Managerial Index happens to be well designed. Now the District Commissioner/Magistrate sees that the Mortality in his district due to all diseases has reduced drastically. Surprisingly he also sees that the mortality in his district from TB cases has increased and the numbers do not match.
Given that mortality from other diseases have not changed, How can the overall mortality decrease when TB mortality has increased? When two sets of mutually contradicting data is presented only two things are possible- either the data has been manipulated or something is very very wrong. Now the attention of the District Commissioner/Magistrate has been drawn towards this discrepancy. He will now investigate what actually happened and why it happened. It can be possible that the data was manipulated. But it is also possible that people dying of TB in the district were not actually residents of the district. They might have come there to avail treatment or for better health care.
Why? Was good health care not available in their district? If not, why? And what can be done to help those patients. Thus the official (in this case the District Commissioner/Magistrate) gets a head start into why things are not the way they are supposed to be. This became possible only because of a well-designed Managerial Index Protocol.
Moreover, a new District Commissioner/Magistrate/Manager who comes to the post need not spend much time in learning about his district/department/organisation. The unique problems in that particular district can be shown in the Managerial Index by numbers built-into it. The Managerial Index will be a standard set of parameters ranging from a page or two at most. As soon as a new official comes into the chair, he will be required to go through those numbers. A person, who is not new, needs to just periodically supervise and look into these numbers. This was just an example.
WHAT SHOULD CHANGE:
Every department/ministry/Organisation should implement this Managerial Index Protocol and come up with a set of numbers/parameters to be designated as a Managerial Index. These Managerial Index parameters may vary in content from one official level to the next. For instance a higher official of department may have only numbers for Infant Mortality Rate, whereas, his subordinate may have a more detailed disease-wise break-up of Infant Mortality Rate figures(like infant mortality from pneumonia, diarrhoea etc). The idea is to provide a holistic yet accurate figure to the official which can better help to manage the functioning unit more efficiently. And as the numbers involved are few (compared to earlier when boxful of irrelevant data were presented) the chances of corruption and manipulation will be reduced (provided Managerial Index is well designed).
The Managerial Indices of various departments may or may not be made public depending on the sensitivity and mandate of the department. (For example, defence ministry Managerial Index is highly sensitive and cannot be made public). A separate department can be created in the finance ministry whose sole mandate is to design, document and implement the Managerial Index Protocol for all departments of the central government, for all levels- beginning from the Prime minister at the top till the office worker in a remote tehsil.
State governments can have their own mechanism for Managerial Index Protocol which must be in sync with the central government department. A real time, secure website can be created with certain real time data in the public domain where all the Managerial Indices are clearly spelt out from top to the bottom levels.
By now you, you may have realized the immense benefits of the Managerial Index Protocol.
There will be increased efficiency due to reduced fudging of data, lesser confusion and improved clarity of departmental functions.
The learning or adjusting time for a new official in that position will be drastically reduced thus saving everyone's time.
Supervision and monitoring of data will be greatly simplified.
For Managerial Index data which is in public domain, it will be simpler for public to directly understand how the department/ministry is functioning.
Since only relevant data is being collected and documented for presentation, there will be regularity in data collection and improved credibility of data.
Since there will be a centralized system (in the form of a department)to design, document and implement the Managerial Index Protocol individually for all departments of the central government, arbitrariness in decision making and execution will be greatly reduced. Any official cannot change the parameters in HIS Managerial Index list without approval from a higher authority.
A system of accountability will be created where the ministers/officials will have to show their work in terms of improved managerial index parameters for their ministry/department.
The managerial index protocol will go a long way to become a cornerstone of the developing INDIAN STANDARDS with high credibility and acceptability around the globe.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH MIP
A few months ago, I was given charge of Ticket Checking Activities at Bengaluru Division(formerly Bangalore) (a part of Ministry of Railways-India). Ticket checking earnings (i.e. earnings by penalizing ticket less travelers) had been falling drastically in the months before I took charge. With my seniors' help, I drew up and implemented a Managerial Index with respect to ticket checking.
The change was phenomenal. Before I took Charge, Ticket checking earnings for every month would average around ₹ 40-60 Lakh (around $1, 00,000).
After the end of my first month of taking charge, Ticket checking earnings had reached ₹ 1.05 crores!(₹10.5 million or $1,75,000). That was about 60% more than the same period last year and about 45% more than the specified target (given by higher authorities) and it was also the first time in the history of Bengaluru Division that Ticket checking earnings had crossed the ₹1 crore mark. By the end of the second month, the Railways (Ticket checking earnings for the second month) had collected ₹1.12 crores (₹11.2 million).
I included in my MIP various ticket checking parameters,by monitoring which, I could obtain a high output. Other parameters can also be included. But as much as possible we should limit he relevant data to only a single page.
- Dr.Kartik Hegadekatti.
Dr.Kartik Hegadekatti is an Indian Civil Service officer presently serving in the Ministry of Railways in India. Views Expressed are Personal.