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sc-arts-college-articleMajority of colleges in Manipur (fully funded or aided by State Government) are created as Arts and Science colleges and few of them also offer Commerce degree courses. They must be operated more innovatively to deliver development of the state (similar to the ways how professional degree colleges are managed and perceived). Their presence must bring about socio-economic impact locally around the towns wherein these colleges are located in Manipur. The course contents and delivery approach followed by these colleges must not blindly copy whatever and however is being taught elsewhere, and instead the overall goal must be for a ‘fit for purpose’ relevance to the local scenario. They need to be reoriented towards ‘applied studies’ approach so that ‘non-professional degree’ graduates produced in Manipur are empowered to become job creators within Manipur in their field of study. Special consideration must be also given to employment standards of staffs (i.e. academic and non-academics) and feasibility of sharing teaching infrastructures on external knowledge exchange activities.
Highlights of current Higher Education (HE) scenario in Manipur may include ‘negligible student numbers in colleges’, ‘non-employability of graduates out of colleges’, ‘unmotivated academics and lack of professional support staffs in colleges’, ‘poorly maintained infrastructures in colleges’, ‘negligible socio-economic impact because of a college’s presence in a region when compared to the public budget being spent annually on staff salaries and maintenance of the college’. It’s doubtful whether any official or Hon’ble Minister of Education in the Government of Manipur has analysed the principle questions such as ‘why a student has to go to a college/University after school education’, or ‘how attending a course in a local college add values to the students as compared to attending a distance learning course from a reputed institution elsewhere’, or ‘how skill training and vocational courses are aligned to degree courses so that graduates can experience both aspects during the three years degree course’ or ‘should colleges in Manipur run courses with contents as same as those running in other states of India’, or ‘should colleges be only about teaching students or be used for socio-economic development agenda’.
State Government seems to believe that ‘facilitating setup of few private universities in Manipur is the only and best way forward to improve HE scenario in Manipur’ and ‘new HE policy means focusing only on private university setup’. Such standalone policy without rectifying the core HE policies is rather likely to fuel further deterioration to social values and economy of Manipur; because the State Government has failed to recognise the ‘in-principle’ connection between ‘the presence of a local university/college’ and ‘the purpose of a local student to attend a local university/college’. The guiding doctrine for a new HE policy ought to be such that ‘the policy facilitates a youth to empower self to create own career even if the graduate is unable to be absorbed into the available job market (in Government services or Private Company jobs) due to whatever reasons after their graduation from the HE institutions’.
The foremost essential action for Government of Manipur to revive dying non-professional degree colleges in Manipur and aspire for a new HE scenario which is fit for the 21st century is to restructure ‘Department of University and Higher Education’ towards new roles and responsibilities, along with bringing changes in certain areas of HE policies as explained in this paper. Such a suggestion is because of the fact that overall operational control of these colleges (incl. topics of staffs employment, infrastructure management, Higher Education policies, student admissions, student welfare measures) are under this department in the Government of Manipur, while the role of Manipur University (a Central University under Ministry of Human Resource Development) over these colleges is limited only to awarding of degree certificates by holding examinations because of their affiliation to the university.
A 21st Century’s HE policy needs to consider various aspects such as: ‘employment norm of academic staffs to be practice-led researcher/tutor’, ‘expanding roles and accountability of a College Principal’, ‘administrative staffs to support non-academic responsibilities professionally at colleges (esp. estates and socio-economic impact agenda)’, ‘bonus/reward schemes and additional project funding pots to motivate/increase contribution by academics’, ‘centralised web-based learning course materials (video, audio, text) accessible to students via mobile or online’, ‘modular classrooms for dual-use purposes (i.e. teaching as well as external knowledge exchange) and flexibility to use joint learning infrastructures among colleges’, ‘accessibility of teaching staffs by students from other colleges’, ‘local job creation and economic development’, ‘involvement of local authorities in planning/delivering HE activities’. HE as a sector doesn’t work in silo and aligning HE policies to the agendas of other ministries (such as commerce and industries, social welfare, science and technology, tourism) are essential. HE institutions serve only as temporary transit point for youths from their homes to the real society/industry.
In order to capture how HE institutions are delivering towards their intended mandates, a systematic measurement framework ought to be created (e.g. in UK, Teaching Excellence Framework, Research Excellence Framework, Knowledge Exchange Framework are used). Such an approach will help in measuring ‘teaching/learning outputs by students at each college, whether fit for purpose later in the society/industry’, ‘research/knowledge-exchange activities by academics and support staffs at each college’, ‘utilisation of college/university assets for local economies’, ‘alignment with NAAC and NIRF exercises conducted by Central Government authorities’, ‘effectiveness of programmes created for own agenda by other ministries to compliment HE agenda at each college/university’, etc.
With the growth of IT/Internet, and availability of hi-tech mobile devices at the disposal of students, a new infrastructural approach of providing learning system is necessary. The role of academics in colleges must be changed from ‘teaching’ to ‘supporting’. Infrastructures of colleges must be designed for dual usage by staffs/students as well as nearby public users. Various courses and infrastructures planned under the agendas of other skills training institutes, ITIs (Industrial Training Institutes), and professional colleges must align with the plans of nearby HE institutions. Staff support Intranet Portals should be made available (incl. new ‘Train the Trainer’ type courses). Also, it’s time to update roles and responsibilities of a College Principal by adding new accountabilities on socio-economic impact agenda to the local region via effective utilisation of available assets of the respective colleges and contribution by academic/non-academic staffs. Establishment of new local advisory boards to colleges is essential to facilitate such impact agenda with local governing Municipal councils.
Curriculum design and delivery structure may consider including ‘research project submission as form of examination’, ‘case-study based teaching’, ‘research paper on local industry/sector professionals as coursework test’, ‘non-tutor-led course materials for self-study’, ‘interventional add-on modules on skills trainings (e.g. centrally managed ‘web-based/video-audio’ courses and subsidised crash courses at some physical centres)’, ‘web-based intranet for all students and tutors similar to web-based distance learning systems’. One time investment may be necessary on the development of course materials and teaching/learning delivery system (e.g. ‘Blackboard’ software). Fixed dates on academic semesters should be maintained annually for all relevant activities at each colleges irrespective of any potential disruptive issues. Clarity of information necessary for use by students or parents of students or staffs should be maintained by the Department of University and Higher Education through dedicatedly designed Intranets and web-portals.
Thus, an overhaul of HE policy is necessary to make the current colleges in Manipur (delivering Arts, Sciences, and Commerce courses) relevant to local graduates. Otherwise, neither students are benefiting nor local towns where these colleges are located. Yet, huge expense is going out every year from the state budget to pay salaries of the staffs and maintenance of college assets without making much return to the society.
About the Author:
Shanjoy Mairembam (BEng, MBA, LLM) is an Innovation Consultant based at Leicester (UK). He supports mentoring of young entrepreneurs in ‘conceptualization of ideas into business case’, and offers role of a ‘Business Doctor’ to local NGOs/MSMEs in Manipur.
For further info, visit http://www.shanmaiconsulting.com; E-mail: shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com
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Thousands of working Manipuri professionals (within Manipur state, across Indian cities and foreign countries) wishes to contribute for a better Manipur, but they are mostly not sure how/what to do amidst complexities in govt administration and social chaos in Manipur. State govt can effectively benefit in terms of both financial and voluntary (knowledge/experience) contributions from high caliber Manipuris, if a systematic contribution management framework is developed at the state level with global usability focus. Any individual Manipuri professional willing to share his/her expertise and experiences must be able to do so in a simple and straight forward process towards improving public service deliveries. Thus, the Manipur State Innovation Council (headed by the Chief Minister) and the state planning department ought to consider adapting the current working model towards an integrated and comprehensive Innovation Management structure that can impact every village/town in the state with contribution of Manipuri People (i.e. professionals) residing across the globe.

 Innovation Management in Manipur State

  To create and sustain innovations systematically within Manipur State, we needs –

(1) Local Knowledge-based Institutions enabled to support innovators and sustain innovations

(2) Network of professionals to provide a platform (esp. web-enabled) for ‘Great Minds’ to interact and engage, i.e. sustaining an interactive professionals’ database

(3) Aligning govt ministries (esp. finance support and officials) to support innovations and innovators in their respective sectors

(4) A facilitation centre (esp. created in a Public-Private partnership model) to coordinate all branches of innovation support and execute centre’s administrative activities for public support

(5) Annual face-to-face Networking and Group Discussion Event to bring together Manipuris (esp. professionals across the globe) and govt officials to build trust and relationships

(6) A business oriented forum to lobby or discuss business issues and govt policies that impact specific business sectors in the overall industry

Thus, the key building blocks for a Manipur specific Innovation Management framework may comprises (1) Academic and research institutions, (2) Govt departments, (3) A centralized innovation support centre, (4) virtualized knowledge exchange networks, (5) A business representatives’ forum. And the key activities required within the framework may comprise of (1) Conducting an annual semi-professional global summit, (2) Organizing webinars on topics relevant to Manipuris by inviting distinguished industry professionals on the panel, (3) Allowing students to undertake internship projects in various govt departments (4) Allowing professionals to contribute their work experiences through guest speech or tendered consultancy project, (5) Liaising with Manipuris in foreign countries and outside the state to promote Manipur tourism.

The KEN-Manipur initiative (started by few Overseas Manipuris after the Pravashi Bharatiya Divas 2011 in coordination with few dedicated state govt officials and local academic institutions) is aimed towards building an online database of high caliber Manipuri professionals (residing across the globe) per knowledge/industry sector as ‘Knowledge Exchange Networks’ and each network being supported by relevant departments in the state govt as well as local academic and innovation institutions within Manipur. State govt needs to embed this KEN-Manipur initiative within the state innovation council so that every Manipuri (who may belong or have originated in the past from any village/town within Manipur) can contribute and interact in the virtual web-platform under professional conduct comfortably without feeling discriminated or alienated by focusing on the topic rather than person/ethnicity. Also, relevant govt departments can send out press releases, tender notice, consultation invite on policy formulation, and internship/short projects on the KEN-Manipur website periodically. Interestingly, most social associations and professional discussion forums in Manipur are found being restricted to few individuals only on the basis of ethnicity, religion, birth-place, etc (thereby with own vested self-interest) and there seems no cross-sectors knowledge sharing mechanism connecting each other. Moreover, overall development in every village/town in Manipur may be feasible at a faster speed with active contribution from Global Manipuri professionals in addition to support provided by state govt officials. Knowledge Transfer Networks (KTNs) of UK Govt is one such example of KEN-Manipur initiative used elsewhere.

An annual Global Manipuris Summit (GMS) is the need of the hour to inspire Manipuris residing across the globe to visit Manipur once a year and create a bonding relationship with local Manipuris as well as state govt officials. The summit may be conducted as a semi-professional event by having theme-based workshop/seminar programs, and cultural programs. The benefits of such summit are (1) cause a mindset change impact among various local Manipuris (currently being segregated on ethnic/religious interests instead of humanity) towards a socio-economic development focus, (2) share working knowledge and life experiences received elsewhere by global Manipuris relevant to the local people, (3) contribute to growth of tourism and hospitality sectors in Manipur by the visit of thousands of non-resident Manipuris, (4) receive foreign direct investments (FDI) and professional expertise contributions to various socio-economic projects within Manipur. Also, unlike annual Manipur Sangai Festival, Global Manipuris Summit is likely to bring in extra revenue to the state govt as well as local tourist/hospitality businesses with the inflow of Non-resident Manipuris. Pravashi Bharatiya Divas of Central Indian Govt is one such example of Global Manipuris Summit conducted elsewhere.

A dedicated facilitation centre (e.g. Global Manipuris Facilitation Centre – GMFC) needs to be established in a Public-Private Partnership model to provide important administrative supports to coordinate KEN-Manipur activities (online as well as conducting of monthly local knowledge exchange event), to organize annual Global Manipuris Summit, to liaise with the industry partners for business engagement by global Manipuris as well as govt officials, and to link with the academic and innovation institutions within Manipur. With opening of Moreh as international trade gateway to South East Asian Countries, many visa/legal permission related issues that may impact overseas Manipuris (and local Manipuris) are often going to come up waiting for quick resolution. Such a centre can support redirection of genuine queries from Manipuris to relevant state/central ministries for quick action. Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre (OIFC) of Central Indian Govt (created by partnership between Confederation of Indian Industries – CII and Ministry of Indian Overseas Affairs – MIOA) is one such example of Global Manipuris Facilitation Centre created elsewhere.

A new comprehensive business forum (e.g. Manipur Social and Business Enterprises Network – MSBEN) functioning under global professional ethics and represented by most business enterprises within Manipur is essential to complement any possible collective benefit to industry sectors in Manipur by coordinating with both state govt ministries and other local bodies. Currently available business forums in Manipur lack global perspective and are fragmented to only few industry sectors. The new business forum ought to cater to only Manipur specific businesses yet covering businesses run by Manipuris in other global locations in order to enable building global supply chain of Manipuri business owners. Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) is one example of such business forum.

Schools, colleges, training centres, and universities within Manipur may be transformed into innovation houses wherein not just students and staffs in those institutions indulge in creating new innovations but also local businesses and social bodies can gain business support services and avail innovation support resources for their benefits. Innovation also refers to bringing mindset change (i.e. way of thinking) in addition to creating new technology products/ideas. There can be a centralized (and web-based) innovation support centre having policy documents, and high value staffs; while few chosen or most academic/research institutions can have trained staffs (being delegated or newly recruited) to provide support for enterprise development and business activities. Some of the specialized innovation institutions may be asked to take ownership of conducting monthly/periodic KEN-Manipur workshops by inviting/receiving Manipuri professionals (who may be returning to Manipur state for holiday break), and video/presentations of such useful discussions may be uploaded in KEN-Manipur website for future access. This approach of institutional ownership also enables respective institutions to build strong ties with industry and professionals for the benefit of their staffs, students and alumni. In addition, these institutions can avail access to thousands of highly qualified Manipuri professionals via the database of KEN-Manipur. Innovation vouchers and Capacity Building funds may be made available centrally and be allowed for individual institutions to bid for project sanctions.

Most State Govt departments tend to work in-silo and people (esp. the intended target consumers of each department) often don’t receive govt dept’s announcement of relevant information on time. Most plans under each department (as created by state planning department) fail to reach success at a reasonable level of completion mostly due to implementation issues and bottlenecks during rolled out phase of the plans. Thus, there is a need for collective overseeing of innovation support services provided in each state govt department. Each department may delegate officials to contribute in relevant networks of KEN-Manipur by sensing ongoing discussions in particular networks and by promoting activities/policies/funding info available in their department for usage by professionals and local businesses. Also, there is feasibility to cross sell opportunities (tenders/projects) by govt department to networks relevant to another department within KEN-Manipur (thereby leading to effective usage of govt money).

One key hurdle to be overcome for enabling non-resident Manipuris and local Manipuris (including state govt officials) to engage effectively is the need for acclimatization by both parties to a mid-way work culture suitable to both i.e. adjustment of attitudes/egos. There needs to be orientation programs such as ‘Train the Trainer’ – to help industry professionals to learn working culture (ethics and attitudes) prevalent in Manipur state before they even start their personal contribution, ‘Openness and Team-work training’ – to help state govt officials to adjust their working style to corporate environment by understanding how industry professionals work.

If the state govt has the will to initiate implementing the above recommendations with funding from either state govt or Union Ministry of DoNER (or elsewhere), Manipuri professionals working across the globe can start contributing easily in a simple process towards socio-economic development of every village/town in Manipur. Also, current social unrest in Manipur due to mistrust among communities may go away faster in due course with mindset of local people getting changed because of knowledge inflow from non-resident Manipuris on a peer-to-peer contact basis.

 

About the Author:

Shanjoy Mairembam (BEng, MBA) is a Business Strategy Consultant based at London (UK). He supports mentoring of young entrepreneurs in ‘conceptualization of ideas into business case’, and offers role of a ‘Business Doctor’ to local NGOs/SMEs in Manipur.

For further info, visit http://www.shanmaiconsulting.com; E-mail: shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com

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Market Research on needs for management support to business and social enterprises in Manipur

Project Overview

An up-to-date report is necessary on the working profile of the numerous non-profit organizations and companies operating in Manipur. This will enable understanding the bottlenecks hampering their growth and impact of their presence to the socio-economic conditions of Manipur.

Project Objective

(1)    To create a database of non-profit organizations and business enterprises operating in Manipur

(2)    To identify key management related issues hampering the growth of enterprises in Manipur

(3)    To evaluate enterprise support resources and systems across industries available in Manipur

Project Methodology and Analysis Approach

  • Surveys (online and paper-based) and interviews (one-to-one and group)
  • Literature review on management journals and research papers
  • Review on available enterprise support resources from Govt/public sources and private firms

Project Deliverables

(1)    A database of business and social enterprises operating in Manipur

(2)    A report on feedbacks/interests from enterprises in Manipur for management support services

(3)    A SWOT report on each enterprise support system available in Manipur

Project Duration

6-weeks; Feb 20th – April 1st 2012

Info for Researcher to conduct the Consultancy Project

  • Stipend Offered: INR 6000 (INR 4000 for research consultancy; INR 2000 for travel expenses)
  • Essential Skill : Data collection and report presentation, researching journals/papers/online
  • Desired Skill: Travel and face-to-face interview of officials in govt, companies and organisations
  • Desired Qualification: Research Degree / PhD / MBA / Graduate with relevant experience
  • Feasibility to adapt the project as internship project for students [conditions apply]

Selection Process

  • An application letter (along with CV) to be submitted by email to shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com explaining how to conduct the project citing earlier experiences and skills
  • Online interview (via Skype or gmail or yahoo) for only invited candidates; and also possibly a face-to-face interview at Imphal
  • Project to be offered on first come first basis and capability only, though last date for application is 12th Feb 2012

Project Sponsor: Shanjoy Mairembam [Shan Mai Consulting Ltd, UK]

shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com;  http://www.linkedin.com/in/shanjoymairembam

Also info available at: http://www.slideshare.net/shanjoym/market-research-for-msben-project-advert

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In simple words, ‘a Business Model’ refers to the pictorial representation of how the entire business of the firm works via diagrams and flow charts. The business model itself is not exactly the business of the firm but rather it provides the crucial ‘bigger picture’ on how the business of the firm should function at every instant in every employee’s mind. In short, it provides clarity on the vision/strategy, the operations, financial flow, value chain flow, etc of the organisation in the market in a simplified way.

How critical is to understand the ‘Business Model’ of your firm?

If an organisation is unable to draw and explain its business model, something is not right with that firm. The firm may be profitable today but it will run into serious trouble in times such as the current global financial crisis or any unexpected external market turbulence. Uneven market dynamics and changes in the ways of doing business is a never ending phenomenon in the business world. Not only the management of the firm but also every employee of the firm needs to realize what the company does, how the company makes money, which direction the company is going forward, and so on; yet all such info in a crisp and simplified block diagram presentation. Making frequent changes to the already tested business model which has been found working well till date is not a logical approach for any firm for future growth. Yet, the company management has to be ready when and how to make the adaptation to the business model if the company has to perform better in the coming decade amidst the competitive market scenario.

What to consider while making ‘Business Model Generation’?

To create neither an over-simplified nor a complex business model is the suggested norm. Yet, the business model should depict most critical aspects of the business operations in the firm, such as finance, manpower, resources, route to the market, etc. One of the suggested ideas (and book) on ‘Business Model Generation’ worth reading is ‘Business Model Generation – By Alexander Osterwalder’ which is recently being launched into the European market around October 2009. Further links about the book/ideas can be availed from

http://www.businessmodelalchemist.com/ & http://bmdesigner.com/.

The 9 Building Blocks of a Business Model (from the book)

An example of how this reference model has been used is provided via the link http://www.slideshare.net/shanjoym/hospital-rtls-emergency-alertpersonnel-locater

Which next step to be considered after designing the ‘Business Model’ of your firm?

Once the business model has been created, the next step is to transform the model into a business plan having detail info about how the business is going to be operated. The business plan will enable the management to focus every aspect of business operations with clarity and purpose.

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Planning on various govt projects in Manipur state are conducted by dignified (IAS & MCS) officials on consultation with external professionals. Then, the curiosity arises ‘why govt projects often get failed or stuck incomplete in Manipur?’ A first glance on this issue leads to the key probable answers – ‘Poor Project Management’ and ‘Unskilled Operational Structure’. Some of the areas within project management worth giving more focus by planning officials are as follows:

Project Management (PM) Skills: PM skills are achieved after extensive hands-on work experience via continuous improvement and knowledge sharing with other experts in the similar fields of work. Planning officials need to update their PM skills for better project planning and execution with global outlook. Govt should consider providing training courses for few officials in top management institutes within the country and aboard. In addition, officials should have access to reputed online research databases (such as Harvard Business Review, Business Source Premier, EBSCO Electronic journals, etc) for better planning. New online/offline forums should be created for interaction with public/professionals on various govt projects to provide suggestions/inputs. E.g. students of MU (such as MBA graduates) can be employed to conduct analysis and consultancy services of govt projects at low cost via customize internship projects.

Project Management Team: The chain of commands/management from planning till implementation seems unclear and unspecific to everyone involved. The flow of concept and responsibilities are not imparted properly in the entire govt administration, thereby most officials do not know their crucial roles toward the bigger picture. The very critical aspect herein to be remembered by the entire team is ‘Believe self first to succeed before asking others to believe on the brilliant idea’. Wonderful business presentations mostly do not lead to successful end results due to practicality of implementation and execution issues. There needs to be something similar to a corporate strategy group in the administration which evaluates the entire picture and guides the various divisions toward the goal. Such step will help in eradicating the prevailing concept of “Never ending govt project’, and overcoming likely implementation issues.

Stakeholder Analysis & Project Scoping: These two key areas seem missing often in most govt project plans. These documents do show the general contents of a business plan such as the planning team, resources required, execution plans, industry/sector research report, budgeting, timeline, etc. Yet, stakeholder analysis is the most critical activity of any project and it needs to be conducted periodically (not just only at the start of the project initiation phase, since stakeholders may keep changing their views on the project thereby impacting the project completion). Project scoping also helps in defining the focus areas for the project team to achieve the goals and it closely relates to stakeholder analysis. E.g. Stakeholders can be local people, central govt funding authorities, nature/season, private contractors, etc. Yet, one of the key stakeholders in most projects found often missing in the analysis is the underground militant organisations and how to deal with this key stake holder. The project team can’t satisfy all the key stakeholders throughout, but it should still move towards the completion of the project goals in a balancing mode to the stakeholders.

Risks & Uncertainty Management: Officials are often found wanting in most govt projects on how to deal with possible risks already recognized and any uncertain situation in the future. Moreover, there seems to be no special focus area in the planning documents for risks and uncertainty management. The officials should also be trained more on conflict management/negotiation skills (to manage the govt ministers, local people, non-state agents, etc). E.g. What is the value of building a hydro electric power plant on that river this year if the river is going to dry up soon in 6-7yrs in future?, why do thermal power plant need to be build in that year if continuous fuel supply can’t be sustained in future and also if the per unit power cost produced can’t be achieved lesser than the likely market sales energy unit price?, etc.

Opportunity Costs: Various project plans are created by officials under the influence of some great minds or learning from the visits to developed cities, etc. But, officials are again found wanting to provide business justification – why they choose to take up those projects?, Have they really considered ‘the Opportunity Costs’?, Which project would have been the best suitable or best value for money invested?. There should be a discussion room before initiating on any development project by inviting several drafts of possible solutions. The govt should choose one among all the project draft solutions which justifies with higher value to the people and state. E.g. Wasn’t there any other alternatives than building a fly-over in the middle of small Imphal city (with the huge money already invested) to ease the traffic issues?, etc.

Project Closure/Exit Strategy: Officials seem more concerned to complete the plan created by higher authorities without providing valuable feedbacks and timely inputs to the planning team so that the projects can deliver more value even after the project completion or expiry. The timeline of the project has to be clearly defined and monitored. There must be an option or strategy to exit at certain points of the project phase if the planning team feels the project is not worth investing. E.g. What is the business justification of building an entire game village homes with crores of rupees if those homes can be used only for one time during the sports competition?, etc.

(Detailed analysis on Manipur Government’s planning activities can be done by accessing the link: http://www.planningmanipur.gov.in/.)

The latest Manipur State Development Draft Report can be accessed via the link: http://www.planningmanipur.gov.in/Draft_MSDR.htm

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