Project Arrow Resources
Case Study NASSCOM
Project Arrow is a vision that was articulated and translated into action in a short period of time. This study highlights that the process of change can be effectively executed in government enterprises that may often be perceived as archaic, slow moving, and bureaucratic. This case study captures the essence of creating and managing change in India Post, a government enterprise, with a view (a) to improve customer service and (b) compete with private sector couriers to reestablish the preeminence of India Post. Most important, the case study serves to highlight that leadership vision, employee commitment, proper planning, and execution focus – even in a government enterprise – can result in a successful transformation.
Like any large government organization with a huge employee base, time-worn processes and systems, frequently changing leadership and imposed social obligations, the process of change needs an across‑the-board buy-in. There are significant barriers to get a buy-in. These barriers range from entrenched vested interests to human cynicism, which initially tend to stall change. This buy-in cannot be generated unless there is a commitment from leadership with a clearly articulated vision, well-defined goals, and unflagging commitment to execute in a time-bound manner and with a relentless focus on the end goals. However, at the same time, not totally ignore the fact that changing mindsets and an entire work culture have to be given time or takes time.
Project Arrow initially started off as an attempt, by the leadership to improve the ‘look and feel’ of Post Offices. While planning this facelift, the leadership team discovered that it was equally, if not more, essential to launch a comprehensive program to improve core operations. In the absence of operational improvements, cosmetic changes’ impact would decrease in a short time, leaving the organization unchanged. This realization kick-started the development of a comprehensive and integrated approach to improve the services of the post office to more effectively fulfill its assigned mandate to the “Aam Aadmi” (the common man). The study looks at the challenges faced in the process of evolving and implementing the strategy given the complexity and history of a large 150-year-old public sector organization. Elements of creating a buy-in needed to address a wide range of constituencies ranging from grassroot employees, officers (who could be apprehensive of the impact this project would have on them), streamlining the Information Technology (IT) systems, getting the right investments, improving employee capability through training, and above all, getting the trade unions to understand and support the change.
The attempt to transform India Post is not the first attempt at improving a government-run organization. There are enough examples of a revamp being successfully undertaken, such as Indian Railways, National Thermal Power Corporation, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), and many of the public sector banks. What makes this unique is that the transformation was being attempted over a very aggressive timeline. All the government/public sector organizations, which were transformed and guided by leadership vision and commitment, underwent the change and became more efficient and customer oriented. In a nutshell, the improvement at India Post under Project Arrow can be seen in the larger context of ever increasing capabilities of enterprises in the public sector under central government.