Thursday, June 22, 2006

An Organisation Structure for a new-age Political Party!

I have been a keen observer of the Indian Political System. To put popular opinion in perspective, the system sucks! However, if we examine the system in context of our history and the assumptions made by the designers of the system, a whole new truth emerges. Under the stinky surface one finds how miscreants have taken advantage of good intentions and naïve assumptions of our elders. No doubt the system needs a complete overhaul!
In this context I believe we need not re-invent the wheel. We can learn from the organisation structure / functioning of corporates. While I agree that government/political party should not / need not function like a corporate, I believe that our new age political party can borrow good workable ideas from corporates and deploy them for its gains. Some of the ideas from corporate approach could be:
  • Managing Efforts: Political Parties tend to take volunteer efforts for granted. How many times have we seen grass-root level worker sacrificed for son-of-incumbent in partisan politics. I often wondered why people join political parties at grass-root level when a certain Mr. Gandhi or Ms. Gandhi is heir-apparent. This concept is keeping good people away from politics. To have a workable, unbiased, “secular”, political party we need to reward all efforts “secularly”. Current system does not measure the efforts and time spent by volunteers. A strong system needs to be implemented to document through a process effort expended by each person working for our party.
  • MIS (frequent – complete reporting): A CFO gets details of every effort spent across the company. Corporate managers often seek inputs from their teams about activities and projects/assignments they are working on. These inputs form critical part of plan-do-check-improve routine that corporate follows. We need to imbibe this improvement process for our political party.
  • Managing Finances: One word that is common to all corporates (maybe to a varying degree) is Financial Prudence. Current political system works on un-identified, un-documented sources of funds hence this implementing this for current political parties is not feasible. They are caught in an “un-accounted funds yielding unaccounted benefits” spiral. Our political party needs to establish credibly a system to manage and audit its account in a transparent manner. I would go a step further to disclose the accounts publicly and be open to scrutiny. (One can look at open-source model for tax and financial reporting).
  • Marketing and Sales (to prospective voters): My boss says at the end its all sales! And he is right; this new-age political party’s first success will finally depend on how effectively it can sell to Indian voters. Corporates have a sales plan in place wherein the sales team regularly meets, interacts and sells to the clients. A worth emulating thought I must say. Drawing parallels, can we not expect our party to have a contact plan for each of the customer?
  • Recruitment: Corporates have a well defined process for recruitment. We tend to believe that Political Parties should be volunteer driven. But when we need skills we need skills and skills we will have to recruit. Recruiting for political parties can have a two pronged approach of volunteering and recruitments. This is again similar to fresh-hires and lateral placements concept in corporates. For each person it is important to know what is expected of him/her when he is recruited. Obviously when the recruit brings some skills (like event management) to the table the expectation can align to his skill for maximum advantage.
  • Career Plan – Leadership program: Also one other thing we can learn from corporates is career planning and leadership development. When you have people, they come with aspiration. Aspirations can be positively channelled if performance is measured. Hence, it is essential to put in place a performance measurement and reward system that is reasonably objective and acceptable to everyone in the team. Existence of such a system drastically enhances talent retention and helps manage expectations of the new members. It makes comparing between two good performing individuals easy and avoids conflict.

These things are more must-haves rather than esoteric requirements. Don't you think a political party along these lines will actually renew India! I know of a party which is finding its feet and curiously examining these very issues. Click here to know more!