McKinsey poll

During the last session of the Parliament I asked the prime minister to explain what Mckinsey were doing that couldn’t be done by our own civil servants. Subsequently, I ran a poll that asked you “Are civil servants impressed with McKinsey’s work?”

Of the 569 who took the poll, 408 (or 72%) replied with a emphatic “No!” while only 72 (or 12%) said “Yes!” The others (16%) answered “I don’t know.”

Our poll results are straightforward: An overwhelming majority of you are not impressed with McKinsey’s performance. That is terrible, especially if, as I suspect, many of you who took the poll are civil servants.

But there’s another side to the story. Last Sunday, Bhutan Times ran a story in which many people – civil servants, ministers and counterparts – went on record to endorse the good work that McKinsey and Company were doing in our country. That is good news.

So are McKinsey doing a good job? The verdict is still out.


Facebook Comments:


  1. I personally don’t know what McKinsey is doing in Bhutan, but I can say without any doubt that there is noting Bhutanese people cannot do what McKinsey can do. In-fact I think we can do much better as we have a very good pool of well-educated and highly qualified people especially in our civil service.
    But we have our own problems:
    1.Organization: Our people are not organized to carry out such tasks, which requires team effort of different experts. Our experts are scattered throughout ministries and departments and some at places where they doesn’t even belong.

    Suggested Solution: May be we can create a research institute that can find problems and provide solutions, which can serve as a link between academia and government or their business entities.

    2.Budget: There are no incentives for doing anything extraordinary but instead subjected to strict audits. The fact that our people are not very well-off tend them to look for any financial benefits and therefore the first question they asked themselves is “what will I get?”
    Suggested Solution: We should find ways to pay well to those people who undertake such projects. I think even we pay them 5 or 10 times more than their salary, it will still be cheaper than paying for external consultants.

    3.Attitude: We need to basically change our mindset about the capabilities of our own people. Generally most of our people have a thinking that makes them believe that only people with “tie and suit” can do the work but not by people with “Gho and Kira”.

  2. My view is the complete opposite of yeswecan, our civil servants all need to be spoon fed so it will be a pipe dream for them to ever reach the lofty heights set by Mckinsey.

    Lets stop kidding ourselves, the only reason the RGOB had to hire consultants from outside was because our civil servants sucked, period, now all of a sudden we have everyone saying that they could have done a better job.

  3. Our own PM is a veteran civil servant who knows all the nooks and corners of how to bring the right changes to make all the positive changes with home grown ingredients. However, he chose to take the easy way i.e, in engaging Mckinsey. Had he opted for the do- it- yourself- approach, it would have had double benefits. A good think tank could have been set- up to do the Mckinsey task. While doing so a trend of institutionalizing such work would have become a positive trend.
    Good leaders not only look at short term gains for political reasons, but create institutions that will have far reaching impact in the future.
    I’m not in any way saying that Mckinsey’s work will not accrue any success, but sustainability is something that has been the mantra in our development philosophy and it should have been given a chance.
    We have very qualified civil servants who are at the moment either under-utilized or assigned in areas not commensurate to their area of discipline.How does one explain the numerous MA’s and PH D’s that the Govt. has invested in over the years. Where are they and what the heck are they doing qualitatively, in nation building. One often hears of such people doing consultancy for others outside of the govt. and also over-qualifying themselves in the many seminars and trainings without really showing any appreciable results in where they are supposed to make a difference.
    The PM has the experience and the background, and the political clout to make such a thing happen. I’m just a little perplexed why? Has he lost faith in our self serving, lazy and spoilt civil servants? Or, is that what he thinks of them and has given up on them.
    Personally, I’m a little apprehensive about employing Mckinsey as its impact will be felt long after our PM has left the scene.

  4. I would argue that majority of Bhutanese bosses in the upper echelons of bureaucracy are egocentric and polemical in their views due to which there are numerous institutional deadlocks on multi-sectoral issues that deserve immediate actions. With such working atmosphere prevalent in our system, our PM must have felt the need to invite a third party from outside the country that would serve the role as mediator and facilitator between the agencies in order to define common grounds and achieve concerted actions towards common goals.

    However, the third party seems to go a little overboard. For instance, having 100,000 tourists in a year is not only seen as lofty dream, but also deemed to have serious impacts on both our culture and environment. It surely contradicts the philosophy of GNH, and makes one wonder how such an idea could emerge when the third party and GNHC work in close collaboration.

  5. Dear OL,

    You can’t be serious about taking your poll as the credible basis for discrediting the good work of McKinsey. I don’t think everybody who voted on the poll were civil servants acquainted with the work of the McKinsey and also it is quite possible that those overwhelming majority (as you put it) would be your own party supporter who would rather see McKinsey fail than succeed.

    So, I am not surprised with the poll result.

  6. Libra Musa says

    With the changes in democratic culture, we need the bureaucracy to adapt to the rule of the people. They need the government to be transparent in their believes and deeds, and bring services closer to them. Whatever is planned by the political governments needs to be implemented by the public servants under RCSC. If we recalled the initiatives in GG and GG+ and OD exercise, they had recommended a lot of changes in the governance system. What happened, they largely remained as wonderful document. There is no denying that our bureaucrats are very capable and intelligent, but nothing happens without being pushed or told to do. We have developed a culture where we wait for work rather than taking initiatives. This could also be largely due to the leaders heading the organisations, who are used to old ways.

    I am closely watching McKinsey. They are doing a great job with our Bhutanese couter-parts in shaping the governance of our plans and in implementing the aspirations of the government. Without out them, I do not think the government would have moved so far because of the fact they have to depend on the complacent public servants. It has made a lot of promise to the people in the country it needs to fulfill.

    If democracy needs to succeed and people believe in it, this government has to live up to the expectation of the people, who were reluctantly accepted the democracy. Now if your ask the political people to work for these aspiration, how can they deliver without the public servants? How much we blame the political government, in the ultimate analysis the failure is brough to them by the ones who implement – And these implementers are public or civil servants.

    There are clear policy and rules to safe guard our culture and environment. The tourism policy is high end tourism (high value low impact). No back-packers will be encouraged to come to Bhutan. It is good to be aware and sense the dangers that is how we can put systems in place. And don’t worry, all these have been thougt – because I had the same question, but having attended two of such meetings at Terma Lingka, I am convience that McKinsey were the right choice.

  7. As far as increasing number of tourist is concerned, I have read in businessbhutan article that they simply changed the definition of tourist and made it look like we are getting more tourist even though we are not getting anymore tourist than before. I wonder how many of short cuts like those are taken to make it looks like they accomplished something.

    Now I don’t really blame the government for asking McKinsey help. We all know the attitude of Bhutanese people, we all lack punctuality, creativity, we are close minded and we cannot think outside the box. So having a fresh look from outside definitely helps. We bhutanse just take shot gun approach and do not think about consequences. Look at all the bans for example, meat ban, smoke ban, plastic ban, etc. None of them are successful. Instead of being ban happy we should be educating. It is like give a man a fish he eats for a day teach him how to fish and he will eat for lifetime. I really hope the government of Bhutan, instead of ruling like North Korea, will try to rule like a true democracy.

    On a unrelated topic I just read a news article on kuensel where the PM justifies 60% of his minister being on tour outside the kingdom at a time. He says most of them are funded by foreign government. In some western democracies that is called influence peddling and it is outlawed. It considered some form of lobbying. We all know there is no such thing as a free lunch. Every action has a reaction.

  8. I do not mind people travelling outside if it is useful and help Bhutan achieve her socio-political- economic goals; But foreign trips have to be made transparent and accountable. At the end of the day, who ever makes foreign trips have to be answerable.

    Also if foreign trips involve cost from the limited government budget it has to be studied carefully; if it is absolutely necessary then why not?.

    By the way, foreign trips for people like us in professional scientific fields are very limited. What i find is mostly bureaucrats get chance to travel. It would be interesting to study the benefits that have been seen or observed from various foreign trips made by our politicians or civil servants: for example, did such trips translated into tangible improvement in our system especially in delivering services? Did such trips translated into more funds for socio-economic development? Did such trips improved the image and standing of Bhutanese in the larger world scene? Can someone enlighten on these?


  9. ALL they do is type some numbers in their computers and the work is still to be done by we the civil servants!

  10. tashi,

    After all the spoon feeding, I bet the civil servants still refuse to do it!

  11. i dont appriciate ur poll. u shd keep in mind tht only ur supporters n ur well wishers viist ur blog, so they alys support u , no matter wat the issue is. u dont get carried away by the poll result but be optimistic..mckinsy is doing is great work n bhutan will experience it soon.

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