Shouldn't we start tracking the metrics of governments rigorously ?
October 10, 2016
When I visited a sugar factory at Mandya District - Karnataka, I was inspired to see an 80+ year old man running the whole show as its CEO. After interacting with him for a while, I realized that this seasoned sugar baron is highly dependent on a white board with a few numbers/metrics on it (like no of tons of sugar produced per day, price of the sugar in the market that day etc.) When I asked him what the use of those numbers was, he explained that his entire decision making is dependent on them. So if the numbers are correct, then he would be able to take correct decisions.
Being an analytics enthusiast myself, I re-learned the importance of metrics in running an organization. It is a different thing that his experience in business guided him in tracking the right metrics (it’s not always easy to know what the important metrics for your organization are – here's an article on these lines by Sandhya Hegde ). But the overall truth in this generation is that metrics are super important in determining the health of an organization – be it for profit or not for profit.
Just around the same time, Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc., was in Hyderabad to inaugurate their new office space. In a speech at that inaugural event, K.T. Rama Rao, IT Minister for Telangana, mentioned that Government of Telangana thinks very much like Private Sector. I suddenly realized that the most important organization of any society would be – THE GOVERNMENT. So, some of the activities that private organizations perform might also be applied to a government. Just like any other organization we do need to track the health of a government (be it central or state). And the tool that can help us do this objectively is again “METRICS/ANALYTICS”.
It’s clearly not an easy task to arrive at a few metrics to assess the functioning of a government. Unlike big businesses – which either publish quarterly numbers (if listed) or valuations (if non-listed) – it might not be that easy to arrive at a set of metrics that needs to be tracked for assessing the performance of a government. Also, different governments might have different goals. But this definitely cannot be a reason why we should give up on the task of tracking the health of the governments. Think of a situation where every state government on a quarterly basis publishes its metrics through media (they might or might not beat the estimates). But the thing is to realize the importance/need of having such metrics available to the public in the first place.
When we are interested in tracking how Apple is performing Vis-à-vis Google on a quarterly basis, I am sure we should be more interested in tracking how our very own governments are performing quarter-wise. If there’s any smallest doubt about arriving at the right metrics - we should realize that we are in the era of Artificial Intelligence, Driverless Cars, SpaceX etc. – and with some effort & discussion, we should be able to list down the metrics that every government must be tracked upon. This should make our job easy in comparing how a chief minister performed Vis-à-vis another chief minister or with a Prime Minister. Imagine if numbers could speak for themselves when we compare Narendra Modi with Arvind Kejriwal - not much of subjectivity would be required while discussing about their performance.
Why late then - let’s discuss on the metrics that you think are important in tracking the quarterly performance of a government.