Decision Paralysis in the Indian democracy
A couple of days back I was discussing with an entrepreneur friend on how to take his company from 150 people to 500 people and achieve the goals in next 2 years.
One major roadblock towards achieving these bigger goals, as we realised, were not inexperience or lack of knowledge or resources, but lack of decision making. Too many times one would hold on taking any decision because it would be difficult to decide whether that were the right decision or not. At times it would just be too uncomfortable for the person himself. Take for instance, the need to fire an extremely negative employee.The entrepreneur was too uncomfortable having ‘the conversation’ He was also unsure of the outcome of such a decision. Thus he just postponed this decision, secretly praying a way out of it that does not involve him. Offcourse, that never happened.
Decision paralysis, as we understood, was hurting the company more than perhaps several wrong decisions. The cost of doing any experiment, even if that fails, would be much lower now than at any point in future. So we closed the discussion with the resolve to take faster decisions.
Now extrapolate this to a larger organizations, perhaps one of those MNCs. Once you did that, now extrapolate this to the biggest organization of all, the Govt. of India.
Too often and for long, our governments and bureaucrats have suffered with this decision paralysis. We have identified problems often and have known them well. We then set to root out these problems. Thus we see all governments and courts forming special committees of some very eminent people. They perform rigorous studies, and after thorough analysis give valuable suggestions. But the recommendations are then never implemented.
Why? Simply because that is when the decision paralysis hits our govt. and departments. The consequences of each decision at such high levels are extremely uncertain and thus we debate about various outcomes endlessly. We often find court stays against most ambitious projects in India. We find activists taking to the streets on almost any decision by the government. Sometimes the ruling party too will shy away from taking critical measures for the fear of public backlash. The media plays further spoilsport with their own vested interests.
In a competitive environment, such decision paralysis means the organization will not survive in the long run. In case of nation, this will eventually mean that the nation will not prosper in the long run. However, the previous governments will escape all the blame because in democracy the ultimate accountability is of the people. One of the negative side effects being a democracy. The government that did nothing will not get any blame and thus the safest bet for anyone in power to take. Maintain the status quo and you escape all scrutiny and accountability. That is what Manmohan Singh did as a PM and all his peers obliged for their own selfish interests.
That is what Narendra Modi is trying to get rid of and has even succeeded to a great extent. One may argue the final outcomes of his decisions and even the intent but one thing is clear, he has clearly overcomed the decision paralysis. Status quo helps the people in power the most and hence so much resistance to his actions.
There are valuable learnings in his method of governance for both startups and corporates. Not only he is fast in decision and implementation, he has shown tremendous willingness towards improvisation on the go. He further embraced this corporate style of governance when he reached out to people directly for their feedback. Common people in India have not had such voice since centuries. The magnitude of this achievement is so humongous that irrespective of the outcome, the ability to move such big machinery at such a fast pace, that will put most startups to shame, is in itself sufficient to put Modi in the league of great rulers. To put that into perspective, talk to a CEO of any multinational company and you will know how difficult it is to create change. Old habits die hard. Modi has created a change in the complete bureaucracy that holds the legacy of decades and in the minds of crores of people.
Offcourse things may go wrong. I left my 7 figured job to start my own company and I failed to create one. Also lost all the money I had. But I still regard it is as a good decision and feel satisfied as my intentions and actions were aligned.
The risks in front of Modi and our country though humongous are still dwarfed by the gains. In the long run this will only benefit the nation. And I am sure there will be no regrets.
PS: Our media and opposition has a lot of catching up to do. For now, it seems ‘We the People’ are the only credible pillar left in our democracy. Let us citizens be more vigilant and aware and play the role of a solid pillar.
This is a followup post to our previous article which talked about how the Nov 8 directive is not a true measure…medium.com
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