Monday, February 10, 2014


Last week there was a discussion in class regarding how ideas like “Lean” and “TPS” could be implemented in the government organizations, especially where it is almost impossible to layoff or force people to change their way of working. With almost nine years of working for government and implementing various technology driven systems in government organizations I would like to discuss further on the topic by illustrating a recent example.

Pakistan Customs has shifted to a paperless environment from the typical traditional setup involving a lot of movement of case files from one office to another. Implementing this new setup was not at all an easy job but was very much needed to improve the efficiency of the customs clearance system and movement of traded goods. The major obstacles included an IT illiterate workforce, lack of infrastructure and a strong culture to resist change. It was easy to deal with the infrastructure as that only demanded money and time but the most difficult to deal with were the people and culture.

I was to lead implementation of this change in one fourth of the country including twenty different formations with a workforce of more than two thousand field officers and staff. I did get a feel of unease when I started working on the layouts to make necessary changes in the physical infrastructure and as the time passed I realized that the biggest obstacle will be my own people – to get rid of whom was not at all an option. When I started to discuss the idea of change and the positive effects the government was expecting by its implementation I was bombarded by all negative arguments that one could think of related to the new system and change itself with a strong belief that this will all fail and as Prof. Zak said in the class – “you will go and I will stay and keep on working the way I have been for years….” said by one of the workers he encountered during his days at IBM. But again, as the new management at Harley Davidson did I had to make them realize that it was a matter of collective win or collective failure.

My strategy for successful implementation used the following tools:

  • -         Testing of the new program to improve them by making user friendly
  • -         Repeated trainings of officers and field force at all levels
  • -         Professional demonstrations with individual attention
  • -         Mock testing using various simulations
  • -         Displaying the name of new system at all field formations to make people believe the seriousness
  • -     Regular discussions at all levels to make everyone believe that it is not an option to opt out and to make everyone own the project.

These all efforts were made side-by-side with the development of infrastructure which equipped me with a willing and trained workforce by the time the system was ready to be launched. Once it started, rather before it was actually launched, I started receiving requests from the field staff to be selected for the first run of the new system. These were the same people who were the biggest resistors in the beginning but now they wanted to become the foremost part of it. How did this all change? One short answer could be – by making them a part of the process. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.