By Prof. Vicente Falconi, FALCONI’s founding partner
“If there are no changes in the process, the results will remain exactly the same.”
The American researchers Muzafer and Carolyn Sherif of the University of Oklahoma conducted a successful study in 1954 on conflict and cooperation among groups. One of the hypotheses confirmed was:
– “When individuals with no prior relationship are brought together to interact in group activities with common goals, they produce a group structure with hierarchical statuses and specific roles.”
The obvious conclusion of the researchers was that a common vision or goal brings together and organizes the group. In fact, I have found in my own life that it is always easier to agree on the ends than the means. When a dream or a goal is put in place, it becomes clearer to all where we want to go and what has to be done. The group is more easily organized to achieve its desires.
Management is nothing more than achieving goals or solving problems, which is the same thing. Without goals, there is no management! We need dreams and goals for our country! This will facilitate union and cooperation. This dream originates from a call from the leadership and the goals come from strategic Formulation.
In Government, planning is usually viewed as developing the annual budget. This limits planning to the span of one year. Annual plans and budgets are important, but what we need in Brazil is the establishment of the organization of the State, not of the government, similar to the Police and the Internal Revenue Service, to develop the Brazilian Strategic Formulation with a horizon of roughly 20 years, renewed annually. A formulation of this nature implies many multi-faceted calculations, because all development factors are interconnected, and will require involving the country’s brightest minds in the process, as well as foreign experts. Factors such as climate and population change should be taken into account in such planning. Therefore, this body should have its own resources and independent management. This organization would develop the broad and long-term Strategic Formulation from which more specific and medium-term strategic formulations could be made, such as planning for states, municipalities, energy, logistics, communications, education, health, and defense, for example. This exercise of Strategic Formulation would create the conditions to prioritize projects and establish concrete goals (the states and municipalities would know what they could depend on) that would allow Brazil to grow continuously and vigorously. Where these plans are lacking, all three levels of the country end up managed at the mercy of crises and events, which causes inefficient use of resources, not to mention “blackouts” of all kinds. To manage in this way costs much more because only rarely are the resources, always scarce, employed in the right direction and based on the right priorities.
Policy provides a direction to follow. Policies should drive the government’s course and priorities within the established Strategic Formulation. This is why it should be mandatory for political parties to have well-defined programs that are understood by the people, so that their actions in government reflect popular will and not individual politicians´ personal interests. Popular will is the direction to follow, which reflects policy. From policy arise laws and regulations, which are the function of Congress.
Policy is not the operation of the State. Operating the State means carrying out planned actions in order to achieve the targets needed to better serve the citizen. The state operational machine should be stable, competent, and well-trained. This machine should be filled only with professionals who are continuously trained to stay up-to-date on the technological developments in the State’s administration. They should also have their performances periodically evaluated and consistently receive updated directives to achieve the goals proposed in the Strategic Formulation. Each process should be designed to pursue specific functions (citizen services) and these processes should be arranged in a convenient structure. Updating the structures and processes should be a constant task to react to new technologies, changing needs of the population, and different threats. The standardization of processes, operations, and on-the-job training should be done religiously. We need to build confidence in the state bureaucracy, value creative ideas, and give freedom to work. The consequences of an effective state operational machine would be much lower costs and improved services for those paying the bill, such as continuously better health, safety, and education!
However, what we instead see, regardless of the party in power, is an assault on the state operational machine through more than 22,000 commissioned posts. These are usually filled by inexperienced people holding important positions, each with his own agenda, costing the nation dearly, not so much in wages as in damage they cause. To put our situation in comparison with the current situation in US, the number of commissioned posts is only 200, which are filled by trusted experts.
Suggestions for improving the state operational machine
A good start for the next government would be the following actions:
1. Set up an organization at the State level to annually review the National Strategic Formulation in light of new realities and resulting targets for each Ministry.
2. Set up an organization to assess the performance of public policies and continually revise the processes and the Government’s structure.
3. Reduce commissioned positions as much as politically possible.
4. Avoid, when possible, political appointments to the board of state companies and the positions of General Ministry Secretary, including down the hierarchy (as is done today, for example, in the Internal Revenue Service and Federal Police).
5. Create an operational body at the state level to perform functions normally attributed to human resource sectors in companies, namely: education & training, performance evaluation & feedback, recruitment & selection, and organizational development, among others.
6. The best sectors of the State always have a structured career and associated school: Armed Forces, Federal Police, IRS, Foreign Affairs, etc. Why not structure the careers and set up schools for continuous training in all sectors of the State?
The country needs a good state operational machine! We need to strengthen the Brazilian State to reduce government-driven volatility. We need to strengthen our institutions.
VICENTE FALCONI, 74, is founding partner and chairman of Board of FALCONI Consultants for Results. This is one of three letters on sound management addressed to the President of the Republic of Brazil. Read the other two:
Text published in the Folha de São Paulo website – Opinion – 12/02/2014