Building Brand India Through Innovation
By C.V, Subramaniam
I read today (16 March) two interesting articles, in the Economic Times – one by Kiran Karnik titled ‘Will the Government Finally Learn to Value Time’ and the other ‘Babu’s Baby Steps to get Innovative’. I also read the news in today’s Hindustan Times what Philip Kotler said about India – viz. ‘India Brand Shrinking…. needs overhaul’. All these are relevant and, at the same time inter-related too.
Improving the Brand India
We should first be mainly concerned with Kotler’s observation which reinforces the need for a better Brand for the country and the need for proper marketing of this ‘Brand India.’ He goes on to say that there is need for a Ministry for Marketing which shows how important it is for projecting this brand image to the outside world. He also cites the example of Ireland which has such a system and have benefitted too. We could also seriously think on these lines.
Need for Innovation
If the Brand (of the country) has to be properly marketed, needles to say that the brand has to be appealing and here comes the importance of innovation, Since the country is run by the Government, innovation needs to percolate each and every activity associated with governance. In this context it is to be appreciated that the Government has already thought about the need for an Innovation Action Plan for its various Departments and Ministries. Even if it means ‘baby steps’, it is to be welcomed, since if the baby is properly taught how to walk and talk, it could result in the Government ‘walk the talk’ in terms of its actions.
Importance of the Citizens Charter
And, the question raised by Karnik, viz. valuing the time, is most relevant again, since the delivery of service is measured by the time involved – whether it is approval of pension, passport, various clearances and approvals for institutions wanting to set up their business in India etc. The ‘timeliness’ is thus again most important, since this factor will also be associated with the ‘brand’ of the country which we want to improve.
The citizen’s charter is a welcome step and needs to be implemented strictly. It is also necessary to identify other areas which could be covered in this charter, so that there is an all round improvement in the functioning of the Government.
Innovation Action Plan
Coming to innovation, every Ministry/Department should get themselves engaged seriously in bringing innovation in their working. For this, both employees and the public should be encouraged to offer suggestions and such suggestions should be acted upon,
if found useful, innovative and implementable. Really innovative suggestions should be recognized and rewarded suitably. Ultimately, the efforts should lead to bringing in a corporate culture within the entire Government system.
When I was in the Department of Electronics, handling the personnel division, I could, with the help of my colleagues, bring about some changes in our functioning by adopting a SMART approach, the letters standing for Simplify, (Be) Methodical. Adapt (to requirement), Review and Think (continuous thinking). A write -up on this approach was published in the Civil Service News. One could think of such SMART approach to innovation keeping the guidelines issued in the Innovation Action Plan.
The dictionary meaning of ‘innovation’ is ‘bringing in new style,’ making changes.
The changes could be even small, but they should result in something new, something which should result in beneficial effect. Even the Guidelines issued by Government has defined innovation as ‘the implementation of a significant change in the way the Government operates or in the products and services it provides.’ To quote Peter Drucker (one of his HBR articles), ‘Every organization must devote itself to creating the new. Specifically, every management has to draw on three systematic practices. The first is continuing improvement of everything the organization does, the process the Japanese call Kaizen…. Second, every organization will have to learn to exploit its knowledge, that is to develop the next generation of applications for it’s own success…Finally, every organization will have to learn to innovate. – and innovation can now be organized and must be organized – as a systematic process ‘. I would like to add – ‘innovation must be made a way of life.’