Saturday, February 5, 2022

Efficiency Without Effectiveness

The following is a short WhatsApp chat between Dasho Kunzang Wangdi (of Election Commission fame) and me – a few days back, on the matter concerning the recent announcement of the RCSC’s intention to “manage out” 50% of their top bureaucrats – on grounds of incompetence.

Dasho Kunzang Wangdi: “Yeshey, your worry is unfounded – if 31 goes, there are hundreds waiting in line to fill the vacuum”.

Yeshey Dorji: “Agreed Sir Dasho – but those hundreds would be beans formed and molded in the same pod”.

It appears that Bhutan has now entered a season of confusion and confoundment. An exasperatingly taxing situation is about to befall the RCSC.

The RCSC has already declared that 50% of their top bureaucrats are destined to be put to pasture. In the meantime a second tranche of their lot is under scrutiny.

True to trend, another 50% of the second rung of the bureaucrats would likely be declared unfit to hold their posts. This would give rise to a strange situation: some of the 50% remaining from the second tranche will be moved up to fill the posts of the top bureaucrats who have been released on Tsedar. This means that there will be precious few left in the positions in the second rung of the bureaucracy. This will call for assessment of the third rung of bureaucrats – to be selected to fill the vacuum created in the second rung of the bureaucracy – as a result of 50% of them being declared unfit, and some of the remaining 50% having to be moved up to fill the posts in the top rung of the bureaucracy.

In the process the RCSC will discover that, yet again, another 50% of the bureaucracy in the third rung needs to be “managed out”, if not more. To me the RCSC’s approach appears to be an exercise in futility - a never-ending case of diminishing returns.

In management parlance it is known as: “Excellent efficiency without effectiveness”.

We all acknowledge that the civil service is a house with structural failure. However, dismantling it is not an option. We need to reinforce it, mend its crumbling walls, strengthen its foundations – reinforce its posts and pillars and prop up its sagging beams.

The civil service is a zombie without a soul. Let us put back the soul – as the first step.

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