Monday, September 26, 2011

We commit to bring change

September 17th, 2011

It was the final round of the Jnana Fellowships– 2011 selection process and I was all excited to walk through the plans for the day. Out of the 400+ who completed the written test, top 50 were selected and were called for the interviews. Interviews were scheduled at the Vikasa Soudha from 9.30 am.  Candidates started walking into the venue from 8.30 am onwards; they were also served with breakfast and coffee. All the candidates were made to sit in a conference hall and register themselves for the interviews.

Two groups of panels were called to carry out the interviews. The general panel was a mixed set of leaders from Government, Private and Non-Profit Organizations. The department panel consisted of the secretaries from all the respective departments where the fellows will be posted.  I was very happy with the mixed set of people in the panel and I was sure of them doing a great job in selecting the final list of fellows. Candidates were called based on the 1st preferences of departments they had opted in their application form. Out of the 50 candidates, 48 of them showed up for the interviews and each interview took about 10 minutes.

My job was to keep talking to the candidates and panels; and make note of some observations. I was speaking to most the candidates and tried understanding their expectations. I was happy to meet some very interesting people with brilliant set of ideas to bring in change. I was ecstatic to hear about their plans and their confidence level with which they decided to risk’ coming out from their current jobs. Based on my interactions, I could categorize the candidates in to the following three sets. First set of people were those with a clear vision of what they want to work, a passion to work with the government, wish to use their experience and talent to bring in change; Second set of people were those who were waiting for such opportunities to use their talents and were ready to work on any assignment given to them and learn from the system; and the third set of people were those who had no specific plans and were mostly there to look out for an alternative job for themselves. I was very happy about the first two sets of people and was moved with the kinds of ideas they had.  I was also certain that the third set of people will get eliminated during the interviews. After all, they never expect candidates to see this as an alternative job.

As and when the panel were done with their interviews, the next department panel were called. And I used to run behind the panel who took the interviews for the feedback. I did get some excellent feedback and some good suggestions from them. Some of them were delighted with the quality of the candidates and their desire work with the system. I even heard that some of them were literally fighting over some exceptional candidates to take them to their departments. It was the eureka moment for me!

Feedback from the panel on the interviews summarized as under:
  1. So far everything looks perfect; we are waiting to see the results at the end of the fellowship period.
  2. Excellent presentations from the candidates.
  3. Candidates are certainly meeting our expectations.
  4. Process is designed very well. For the first time we are seeing a different way of doing things within the Government.
  5. More information about the departments to be given to the candidates much before the selection starts so that it would help candidates getting to know the work area better.
Almost all the interviews were really good. I could see a sense of satisfaction with the panel on their selection. After all, they were the ones who will be working with the fellows for the next 8 months. Some candidates did exceptionally well and some of them tried their best in convincing the panel. Even the panel did their best to give enough comfort to the candidates during the interview so that none of the candidates were disappointed while leaving the interview hall. Most of the candidates offered their help to make a positive difference to the system and some of them did carry the ‘I’m ok, you are not ok!’ attitude during the interview. But the panel were at their best to assess them before selecting them. Here are some of the key points that spoke candidate’s minds to convince the panel:
  1. It is very difficult to do things being inside the system and hence this platform will help me doing things that I want to do (some of them who are working with the Govt already) 
  2. Quality issues and the lacuna in the existing system. 
  3. Bringing the change at the grass root level. 
  4. To implement some of the proven scientific methods and low cost methods in the System. 
  5. To rework on the existing outdated policies in the system. 
  6. I have seen how things work being outside the system and I want to see how it works within the system. I want to assess how I can bring in more value addition being inside the system. 
  7. This is an alternative way to work with the government. 
  8. System is in need of new methodologies and techniques. We are here with what is required.

Finally all the interviews got over by 6.00 pm and candidates were getting exhausted sitting inside the room. They were served with timely snacks and couple of rounds of coffee/tea. We even gave them a round of chocolates so that they can keep themselves awake till the end of the day. We were impressed with the way the candidates conducted themselves throughout the day.

In the end, Dr M K Sridhar, Member Secretary of Jnana Aayoga addressed the candidates and explained them on how the Jnana Fellowships evolved and the integrity and transparency with which the process is being carried out thus far. Candidates did acknowledge on the process and praised the Jnana Aayoga on undertaking such a meaningful effort. The forum was open for candidates to give feedback and here are some interesting points:
  1. We gained more confidence in Jnana Fellowship because of the excellent process and the transparency with which everything is being executed. 
  2. It was completely a different experience. First of its kind. 
  3. We will certainly commit to bring change. 
  4. Selection process was the best and it should be replicated to all other departments as well. 
  5. Preference option in the application was a very good idea. 
  6. No reservations and only ‘capability’ was accounted. 
  7. This opportunity to be extended for those who can work from places other than Bengaluru. 
  8. This was like my second innings to the experience gained in private sector.

Dr Gopal Mahapatra, Senior Director - Organization and Talent Development at Oracle, who was a part of the general panel addressed the gathering for a few minutes. Having enormous experience working on talent acquisition and human resources in the past, he said the process was very unique and was the best he has seen thus far.

I felt very good to see things being executed as per what we had planned. It always feels heavenly to walk through the plans. Even I am eagerly waiting to see how the selected fellows keep up their wonderful spirits till the end of their fellowship term. I am sure of some good results.

No great improvements in the lot of mankind are possible, until a great change takes place in the fundamental constitution of their modes of thought - J. S. Mill


Anonymous said...

How did u get into this?
Good job! Alas, as the points summarized speak of some truth too :(

Srik said...

I am a part of the core group which did all the planning and ground work.

Narasim said...

The selection process is very well thought through.

The day-long execution of the plan is very good.

Trust the final outcome will be satisfactory to all parties.