August-September. Time for Ganesha festival for those associated with Indian traditions. While there are many interpretations of the symbolism of Ganesha, here is what I liked the most:
Lord Ganesha Is the Government in Personified Form. Ganesha is known for the ability to help and the ability to harm.
- Large ears: Ability to listen. We now know enough about Surveillance programs of the governments.
- Gigantic body: The bureaucracy
- Mouse as vehicle for gigantic body: Signifies heavy government machinery supported by constrained power. i.e. The slow pace of the government’s functioning.
- There are more details. But I guess I can stop here.
Possibly owing to this definition, Ganesha festival was promoted in early 1900s as national celebration by India’s freedom fighters to promote the sense of one nation. There are further details of the interpretation and history. It is not relevant for our discussion.
This idea of Ganesha is similar to Uncle Sam. When US government wants something from Americans, it is ‘Uncle Sam’ asking for it.
I am talking less about the political leadership. Irrespective of the nature of political leadership and structure, there is steel frame of bureaucrats governing the countries. It exists with all the contradictions – Its commitment & indifference, bias for helping the local industries & desire to attract foreign investment, red tape & help in getting through it…. It is all there.
Got the idea? Now think of how government(s) impact your business:
1. Regulatory and compliance bodies
All local and global standards and compliance codes for product design, installation and operations.
To name a few …
- FDA for healthcare.
- UL, SIL, ASIL for safety related industries
- FAA for aviation
- ISO standards and certification authorities on variety of domains and topics.
Interpreting these and proving that the products are compliant is a herculean task. Those in product R&D would know the pain involved in getting through these. Lot of time and money are involved in getting through these.
However, these give credibility to your products in the markets. And your brand.
Governments support your through concessions of various kinds.
- Tax holidays for your industry – SEZ / STP in India – helping in getting tax breaks for the operations, exemptions for imports for R&D purpose etc.
- Tax heavens in certain European countries – helping the banks.
I am sure every country and region has enough laws and regulations to support local businesses.
3. Thought Leadership:
the government frames policies for the larger good of the industry while every organization is thinking about itself.
Here is an example from Europe. EU is funding study and thought leadership on innovation strategies for automotive industry and its long term health. The industry report is ‘here‘.
4. Soft Power:
The cool dudes at Silicon Valley would say – I am creating the great stuffs on my own. Government is not involved. Country boundaries are no more relevant, it is one
Well. Facebook and Twitter would not have been popular across the world if it were created in some other country. Overall ecosystem, glamour of the country, the world media swept by the entire package. There is bureaucracy that keeps it going. Hard to see it with naked eyes and closed minds.
Global management is heavily dependent on people movements across locations. This set of people definitely are dealing with this part of the government. They have the tough job of balancing – social and business needs. people aspirations, business priorities, local insecurities. Too many conflicting and sensitive factors to weigh upon.
And, this is apart from the countless services such as law & order.
The part that does not work is readily known in the media. The heads of the countries and the think tanks supporting them are at it all the time – supporting their businesses.
The bureaucrats are the middle managers of the government. This part of the government & regulators which work .. perhaps you know it as person working with government bodies.
How does this knowledge help? What should I do?
1. Identify which part of the government has influence on your work. There will be something for sure. Ability to work with government definitely will help your reputation and career.
2. If you are directly involved with government bodies, just give a call to thank for the support. The chances are that it could speed up the work you need them to do.
3. Stop resisting the word – government. Just engage in the right way. Stress will reduce.
4. Still can not deal with Government? Buy the shield of consultants.
Dealing with government and succeeding could be the best experience in program management and project management. My perspective on program manager role is ‘here’. The job of working with government can take the experience to new levels.
As I write this, at work, I am up for another task requiring to deal with a government agency. I am starting it with this positive note and hoping for the best.
So it is the time to thank the government – the functioning part. And to pray for the dysfunctional part to work better.