Predecessor – Successor syndrome
Predecessor successor syndrome in the IAS
Very unfortunately, many of my innovations that have been transformational in scope and depth have not been continued by my successors. At the Harvard Kennedy School, I was taught by Mr.Mark Moore, that for am innovation to succeed, the following three conditions title the "Strategic triangle" have to be satisfied:
- Is it administratively and operationally possible? (The authorizing environment)
- Is it politically and legally possible? (Legitimacy)
- Is the purpose publicly valuable? ( The public value proposition)
But during the concluding class of Mr.Mark Moore, I proved to him by examples how an innovation is only as good as the successor. Even if the above three conditions are fully satisfied, still the innovation will not succeed, if the successor does not want it to..
Let me illustrate this… I succeeded Mr.Mangat Ram Sharma IAS as the District Collector of Krishnagiri in June 2006. As is the ‘dictum’ the ‘system', meaning your PA, your officers etc will not say anything good or bad about your predecessor, till they kind of deduce from your behavior or words as to how you are disposed to your predecessor. They will then act accordingly. I am sure this is the experience of many a leader.
So, the ’system” didn’t tell me anything about the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ that my predecessor had done. But I was seeing a lot of english speaking young farmers who came to my first Monday grievance day in large numbers, who were saying what my predecessor had done for them and how it was now stuck. I could easily have ignored the petitions and the pleas of the youngsters, saying whatever my predecessor had done was bad, and only i could do any good, as is the wont in our Indian bureaucracy. But I called these boys separately for a meeting, and then realized that Mr.Mangat Ram Sharma had indeed done a great thing with these boys. He had made three clusters of rose cultivating farmers in Bairamangalam, Thally and Hosur, had got subsidy sanctioned from the Small Farmers Agricultural Consortium, Government of India, had tied up with the nationalized banks for loans etc for 1008 farmers who were desirous of putting up greenhouses for rose cultivation, including micro irrigation. So, then what was the problem? The problem was that not one rupee had been released as loan to any of the farmers against the subsidy sanctioned!
Naturally I was aghast to say the least! I went after the bankers and the rest is history! Today most of the farmers are income tax payers! Since 2008, come an Onam, they will come to my home in Chennai in a lorry full of flowers worth lakhs of rupees, against my plea that I require flowers worth only Rs.1000/- which in any case I would be purchasing from the Koyembedu market as I have always done since I landed at Chennai…