In Pakistan, public service delivery has been marred by corruption, inefficiency and cumbersome red-tapism since Pakistan’s independence in 1947. As per the Global Corruption Barometer released by Transparency International in 2013, 75 percent of survey respondents in Pakistan paid a bribe to its land services department[1]. Similarly, 57 percent of respondents paid a bribe to utility services, and 45 percent paid a bribe to registry and permit services[2]. When respondents were asked about which institutions/government officials they thought were extremely corrupt, 81 percent replied: civil servants and public officials[3].

To address the inefficiencies of public service delivery, successive governments have introduced several reforms in the civil service, mostly backed by donor agencies such as the Department for International Development, United Kingdom (DFID), the World Bank and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). By means of such funding, “E-khidmat” centers that provide multiple public services under one roof to the public are being set up in the province of Punjab[4]. At present, 17 services are provided by these centers, most of which pertain to routine documentation, a service that was previously provided by different government departments[5]. These include payments of traffic challans, the issuance of birth and death certificates, as well as land records, domicile certificates and vehicle ownership certificates.[6] Similarly, as part of the “Charter of good governance,” the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), the Provincial Assembly, passed into law the “Right to Public Service Act 2014” with the aim of improving public service delivery. The law holds government functionaries liable to financial penalty if designated public services are not provided within a week (the designated period differs for some services).

While these reforms represent incremental changes, their overall impact has been limited. The problem here does not seem to be the absence of legislation, but the organizational culture of government agencies that do not incentivize public office holders to provide services efficiently. Professor Matt Andrews at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University points out that government institutions consist of not only its formal structures but also its normative and cognitive rules (see Fig.1), the latter of which equally impact the overall culture and performance of the organization (Andrews, 2013). Government reforms are mostly aimed at changing formal laws and regulations, while losing focus on the informal institutions that already exist. An analogy would be that of an iceberg, where governments that seek to create change only see the tip of the iceberg, whereas its base includes many other elements that are often ignored but possess a major impact on the institution’s culture and resulting performance.

Figure 1: Institutional Structures as Iceberg[7]

To solve public service delivery issues in Pakistan, federal and provincial governments had a similar approach in which the focus has been the formal institution, i.e. the “tip of the iceberg.” Laws that were passed in an effort to make public services accessible and convenient created new institutions headed by competent and high-performing civil servants. However, the problem is not the absence of regulations but the underlying normative and cultural factors. To diagnose the problem, it is imperative to understand the organizational structure through which public services are delivered in Pakistan.

Contextualizing the Problem

Civil servants oversee the provision of public services in Pakistan. To enter the civil services career stream, candidates must pass a competitive written exam after completing a bachelor’s degree. On average, the percentage of candidates who pass is extremely low, with only a few hundred obtaining passing marks. In 2016, 379 passed the test out of a total of 12,1764 candidates.[8] The exam was once called the “Central Superior Services” Exam, and the use of the word “superior” has had a major impact on how civil servants view their role in society.

After passing the exam, candidates are assigned different cadres within the civil service, based on their overall position. Examples include: the Foreign Service of Pakistan, the Customs Service and the Internal Revenue Service. Only a few candidates enter the District Management Group (DMG), a prestigious cadre responsible for managing different districts in Pakistan. Members of the DMG are assigned to different districts and serve directly under its state government. They are responsible for administering a host of different services, including those in education, health, and other daily public services (the issuance of birth, death, and character certificates, and land revenue records). This system was put in place during British rule of United India. To effectively govern United India, the British appointed non-elected District Commissioners, whose job was not to serve the people of a district, but to rule over them. While their primary task was initially the collection of land revenue on behalf of the British empire, their influence grew over time as they were given magistracy powers, which allowed them to announce short term punishments to citizens who had committed crimes that were affecting law and order in their jurisdiction. The District Commissioner was a position of authority, a representative of the empire, and the senior most decision maker within a given district.[9]

After Pakistan’s independence in 1947, the newly-formed government continued using the same system. Having deputy commissioners suited the central government as it allowed the assimilation of power, drawing it towards the center. The central government could also implement their decisions over each region in Pakistan individually. A hypothetical corollary scenario for the United States is a system whereby the governor of New York is able to appoint a non-elected civil servant as the mayor of Ithaca. Given the division on certain key political issues within the U.S., such a system would easily enable the governor to implement whatever policy he or she wants to, via their chosen mayor, without facing any resistance. In such a system, the mayor of Ithaca would not be elected. Neither will there be a feedback mechanism for public accountability. The Mayor’s performance and his or her promotion would depend on the annual reports that the governor of New York produces, which will form the basis for an increase in financial and non-financial compensation for the appointed mayor. Given its structure and colonial legacy, it is more important for civil servants to do whatever generates good evaluations from their supervisors (politicians and holding superiors), as opposed to serving the interest of the public.

While politicians are voted in and out of power, in countries with civil service systems like Pakistan, there is no direct feedback mechanism that helps ordinary citizens hold their fixed-tenure civil servants accountable for their performance. The only consequential feedback the civil servants may obtain is through annual evaluations by ministers and senior civil servants. Getting a favorable evaluation from senior civil servants and politicians directly affects promotions and economic incentives.

In such a structure, even if an officer from the DMG personally wants to improve the state and provision of public services in their jurisdiction, their priority is nonetheless to get a good evaluation from their supervisors. The shadow culture does not incentivize civil service officers to make the lives of citizens easier, but to take decisions based on what will result in a more favorable evaluation from their supervisors.

Such a system has a disincentive to serve citizens, leading to inefficient public service delivery when services are designed not from the citizen’s perspective but from the policy maker’s perspective. Further, given the nature of the bureaucracy, critical feedback is not captured by the staff members who actually sit at service desks, interact with citizens and deliver public services. Given their daily interaction, they are the touch points of government organizations with the masses, and the nature of their interaction provides key insights into how citizens view public services and into some of the bottlenecks. However, since the bureaucracy is “top down,” these staff members do not have a communication channel with which to reach senior bureaucrats, which means service design fails to capture feedback from the very people who provide these services to the end customer. The failure to capture this feedback has insulated government organizations from innovation.[10]

In many cases, government officials even lack the capacity and knowledge required to streamline and ease processes based on the feedback that they get from citizens. To make public services easily accessible and friendly, the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), a province in Pakistan, has introduced the Right to Services Act 2014, whereby if a certain government service is not provided within a given time frame, a fine would be imposed on the officer responsible.[11] However, given the organizational structure of civil services, no amount of reform or legislation can truly improve the quality of public services, as there are no incentives for government officials to make those improvements.

The government needs to go a step further and create a semi-governmental organization that specializes in public service provision rather than continue with the current approach of providing services through government bureaucracies. The idea is to make public service different from civil service. Many countries in the world have realized that competent civil servants get so busy in administering daily operations that they are not able to design policies, which is one of their primary jobs. Countries like New Zealand and Australia have separated policy design from service delivery, which helps the government focus on service delivery and design separately.

Asaana: organizational design for better public service delivery

Organizations like Centrelink Australia, Service Tasmania and Service Canada are founded on the concept of Integrated Service Delivery (ISD), whereby the maximum number of government services can be accessed under one roof. These have turned out to be success stories in which clients receive government services easily and hassle-free. Similarly, in Pakistan, the adaptation of such systems and processes based on the ISD approach can be realized via an institution that we may call “Asaana,” meaning “easy” in pushto (a local language in Northwestern Pakistan). This suggestion is based on the diagnosis of the current structure of public service delivery, which involves cumbersome red tape and hassle. As per the meaning of the word, Asaana will be a dedicated public service agency at the provincial level, structured as a modern organization, with a culture that serves citizens and values employees.

However, the key idea here is not to copy the structure of these organizations from other countries, but to understand the purpose that they are meant to achieve and structure Asaana in a way such that the emergent behavior of employees makes government services hassle-free. To explain how Asaana will work, the following two diagrams explain the old model versus the new model (See Fig. 2).

Figure 2: Old versus New Model of Public Service Delivery
2(a) Old Model
2(b) New Model

Currently, a job as a simple as getting a university degree attested from the Higher Education

Commission requires students to go to three different offices:

i. A bank to submit the mandatory fee

ii. An Exam Board office to attest the student’s high school degree(s)

iii. The Higher Education office to attest the university degree

Asaana will offer a one-stop solution where a student could come to get a degree attested. At its back end, the organization work with all the stakeholders involved to ease the process. For example, in the university attestation case, Asaana would partner with the bank, the Higher Education Commissions and the Exam Board to devise a process whereby the degree could be processed in the minimum possible time frame by getting all functions streamlined and outsourced to Asaana. Organizations would be able to save costs in the long run, as they will no longer require resources and staff to provide many of the public services that they currently do. A pilot version of the concept should be implemented in representative sample of districts, with a few a designated services being outsourced, starting in 2017. Based on the results of the pilot, the concept should be rolled out, slowly building up its service portfolio. The transition of services from the traditional model to Asaana should be an interative process, inculcating learnings at each stage into the design of the organization.

In order for Asaana to effectively be an agent of change, it is imperative that it builds an organizational culture that makes every employee think that they are working not to “govern” people, but to serve them. This is the biggest challenge with Asaana, given how the colonial history of public service offices has built a mental model in the minds of government officers, one which makes them think they are not doing their job by providing citizens with services, but actually doing them a favor. Asaana should have an organizational culture that provides financial as well as non-financial incentives to officers to make public services easy for citizens and design everything according to the client’s feedback as well as inculcate employee feedback into the system. This will lead to an organization that can learn and adapt.

Using the VMCL Approach to Make Asana Successful

Derek and Laura Cabrera explain that all human organizations are complex, adaptive systems characterized by four functions: Vision (V), Mission (M), Capacity (C), and Learning (L) or VMCL. Vision (V) is a desired future state or goal. Mission (M) comprises the actions that in repetition lead to vision. Capacity (C) encompasses the mission-critical systems that support the vision. Learning (L) is the continuous modification of mental models based on feedback from the external environment.[12] According to Drs. Cabrera:

“to maximize the potential of your organization, to make it resilient and adaptive, and laser-focused on its purpose, these four functions need to be consciously shaped by leadership. They need to be enshrined in culture.”[13]

Proposed Vision (V) for Asaana:

“Public Services Made Easy”

A vision is defined by Drs. Cabrera as “a desired future goal or state.”[14] Each organization’s must be intrinsically motivating, short, simple, and measurable.[15] Most importantly, they must be enculturated.[16]

Figure 3: Vision Rules[17]

Drs. Cabrera point out that “every organization has some ultimate purpose, a desired future state or goal (vision), whether or not it is articulated clearly or widely shared.”[18] Vision is essentially “a simple rule that must govern the interaction of everyone in the organization.”[19]

The provision of public services in Pakistan currently takes up too much time. It is cumbersome, and in most cases, the service delivery staff is rude and unfriendly. When people think of going to get a driver’s license, they imagine wasting a whole day trying to navigate the red tape and long lines. The idea of getting a public service at the moment is that it is a difficult process. Asaana has to be an organization that makes people think differently when they think about a government-provided service. Asaana will make public services easy for people, which is the proposed vision of the organization. Given how basic the problem Asaana is meant to solve is, the proposed vision represents not only a desired future state but also a mantra for change.

There are two major elements in the vision “Public Services Made Easy”: (a) public services, and (b) easy. The following section goes into details of what “public services” could be counted under the purview of Asaana and what is meant by “easy”. This elaboration on the various elements of the vision will help employees in the organization to understand how the organizational vision applies to their role and conversely how their role contributes to the vision.

Public Services:

“Public Services” here refer to the services that Ministries and Government Departments outsource to Asaana such as attesting university degrees, paying for household utilities such as electricity and water supply, registration and notary services such as issuance of birth, marriage and other certificates etc. With time, more services may be added, including those from the private sector, as Asaana will not only provide governmental services but also initiate processes like providing business to consumer services (e.g. mobile money transfers) that will generate an alternative revenue stream and make life easier for citizens, as they could access more services in a single stop.


Ease of accessing public services will be broadly measured using the following yardsticks:

i. Time: This includes the time taken to actually provide a service, as well as a separate category for the total time that a citizen spends inside a service center. The time taken to provide the service can be calculated by recording the time it took from generating a service request to its actual delivery, whereas the time that the citizen spends inside the service center can be measured by various electronic devices that measure average footfall and the time each individual is spending within a given area.

ii. Courtesy: Many private sector companies in Pakistan have developed mechanisms to get public feedback regarding employee behavior, thereby incentivizing employees to provide better customer service. For the purposes of Asaana, a digital interface will be placed next to each counter at a service center. As soon as the citizen finishes interacting with the service provider, he or she can immediately rate the experience on the screen. Financial incentives for the staff members at counters will be linked to the evaluation they receive.

iii. Accessibility: The third element of ease is the accessibility of services. Based on the model adopted by Cenrelink Australia, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) will be used to map out the radius of the area that each service center serves, and whether people have access to the basic sixteen services within 20 kilometers. This strategy is going to further feed into the design of public services, as based on the model of agencies like Service Canada, where public service agencies partner with local organizations to provide government services. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s context, such partnerships can be made using mosques or other institutions such as schools, post offices etc. which are easily accessible to people in their localities.

Proposed Mission (M) for Asaana:

“Serve citizens with courtesy, minimize service provision time, and make public services accessible”

Simply explained, if every citizen is served with courtesy again and again, with the constant aim of making services more accessible and minimizing the time taken, this will lead to public services being made easy.

According to Drs. Cabrera, mission is the sum of actions done repeatedly to bring about the organization’s vision.[20] Missions should be short, simple, and measurable. They should state “who does what for whom” and should be enculturated. In short, the mission is about doing something to achieve the vision that we see.[21]

Figure 4: Mission Rules[22]

To craft its mission, it is important to put in perspective what the “mission moments” for Asaana would be. These are the key moments in which an organization leaves a lasting impression on its customers/clients. For instance, the mission moment for a restaurant is when food comes out of the kitchen and is plated in front of the customer. That critical moment either makes or breaks the whole experience.

In Asaana’s case, from the point that a citizen leaves their house, the whole experience will be centered around how easy was it to access a service center and navigate the information and processes while inside a service center, the delivery time of a service, and how well was the citizen was treated. A perfect mission moment would be one where a citizen could access a service center within the vicinity of where he or she lives, where the staff at the service center was friendly, and where it was very easy to access the right information and documents while inside the service center.

Creating the right mission moments is essential for the success of Asaana. This is similar to when you see your food arriving in a restaurant. From the time it takes for the order, to its plating, to the first bite, every small element is a key part of making or breaking a mission moment. If all parts are done correctly, a restaurant creates a mission moment that a client remembers. If not, then a mission moment can turn into the opposite, creating a bad impression of the restaurant in the mind of the client.

The mission moments at Asaana are meant to deliver the following message: accessing public services is easy. In order to do so, there are three elements that the mission should focus on – accessibility, timeliness and courtesy.

The measurability of the mission is mentioned in the organization’s vision. Timeliness, courtesy and accessibility can be measured through employing technology and quality metrics. The only factor that poses challenges in measurability is courtesy. While user feedback will help to provide a measure for courtesy, its measurability needs to have more than one metric, as courteous service is to be the cornerstone of Asaana.

Table 1 summarizes the initial metrics that are designed for Asaana. Given that the organization will constantly learn and adapt, it is expected that new metrics are added based on the feedback of what citizens feel can improve and what staff members at service desks recommend.

Table 1: Vision/Mission Metrics
Mission/Vision Elements Measuring Metrics
Public services provided under law No. of people who availed services; no. of services delivered
Accessibility How accessible are services for different demographics:

– The elderly, women, young people

– Geographic proximity to different services, average distance per service

– Design of service center, average queueing time

– Understandable content in local languages customized as per community feedback

Time taken a. Average time per citizen

b. Average time taken to process service request

Courtesy a. Feedback given at counter after service is provided

b. Feedback given by SMS after process is completed

Capacity (C) for Asaana

According to Drs. Cabrera, “capacity is a state of readiness to do mission.”[23] Thus, a) the capacity must align with the mission, b) it must be measurable, c) modeled, and d) enculturated.

Capacity is one part where the current civil services possess serious shortcomings. The reason for the lack of capacity has primarily been the inability of the system to keep pace with technological innovation. Further, since the system was not meant to deliver better results for citizens, it has maintained the status quo that has suited the interests of senior civil servants and politicians at the center.

While Asaana can build the right culture, it will not be able to make public services easy if it does not have the capacity to deliver on its promises. Without the appropriate capacity, even the most well-intended reform efforts fail to achieve its desired outcomes. In terms of capacity systems, there are three areas that the organization should focus on: people, processes, and technology. While there will be a more detailed plan under each category, for the purpose of this paper, the key focus areas are highlighted.


The key shift that Asaana will bring to the delivery of public services is the quality of the human resources that it hires.

At the moment, civil servants are not trained, not do they have the required expertise to improve public services in a manner that captures citizen insights. In order to equip the organization with the required human resources, individuals with expertise in customer experience management, data analytics and public service delivery will be hired. The combination of the three skill sets will help use technology and innovation to streamline service delivery, whereas consultants can help improve processes. For managing the overall experience of citizens, or the mission moments, individuals with relevant backgrounds in customer experience management in the private sector will be hired.

One factor that contributes to the demise of public services is that civil servants are selected on the basis of passing an exam. Such an exam does not necessarily reflect an individual’s capability to serve the public, neither does it say much about the innovative mindset required to solve pressing public problems. The recruitment process of Asaana is going to be one of the key mechanisms through which the organization will succeed or fail. It will hire individuals not only on the basis of their skill set, but also on the basis of their values. Behavioral-based interviews will be combined with a case study methodology to evaluate problem solving capability as well as gauge the candidate’s work ethic and values, i.e. whether or not they are able to appreciate and understand Asaana’s values. The recruitment process will be designed to hire individuals based on skills and values, rather than traditional civil service entrance examinations.


In Pakistan’s context, there has been a similar experiment at the Federal Level, in which a semi-government organization was created for issuing identification cards to citizens. The fact that the organization was not completely a governmental entity gave it independence and leverage in many areas, which is unusual in the government sector. Asaana will follow the same model of a semi-government organization that will be self-sustaining in terms of generating not only its own revenue but also incentivizing staff members to improve performance. A lack of incentives-based structure is one of the major failures of the

civil services. With Asaana, the revenue is to be shared among employees, meaning if the organization does great, so does everyone else. This process will create a sense of ownership of the organization, as well as incentivize everyone to ensure that public services are actually made easy.

Evaluations of each employee will be done not only by the citizens, but by superiors as well as peers. The 360-degree evaluation mechanism will ensure employees treat everyone with courtesy, creating an organizational culture of respect. Organizations with a sound internal culture are able to translate it outwards. If Asaana is going to be an organization that serves citizens with courtesy, it must ensure that the internal organizational culture is in cohesion with that theory of change.

The offices will be arranged in an open office model, where there are literally no doors and where every employee is able to see not only each other but also the citizens who come in for services. A major part of the problem is the restrictive environment in government offices. The physical setting itself adds to the red tape, as citizens only have access to staff members who are sitting at desks, and are unable to meet a senior manager to file a complaint or give feedback. By having an open office working space, the physical setting will reflect the ethos and organizational culture of Asaana, which is to make things easy.

Image 1: People waiting in long queues is a typical feature in public service delivery in Pakistan[24]

How physical space is organized has a major impact on service delivery and culture


Given the complexity and range of the public services that are to be provided by Asaana, as well as the aim of minimizing time and increasing access, technology will play a major role in making public services easy. Thus technology is an important third category when thinking about capacity. Building technological capacity is closely linked to hiring qualified individuals who are well versed with emerging technologies, and with how public services can be improved through innovation.

Due to the high volume of data that the organization will be processing, dedicated cloud storage solutions will give it the speed and reliability that is required. A user interface that helps citizens head to the right counter once they enter the service center will be installed, along with a website that informs locals on the processes for acquiring different government services. The website and interface will be available in the local language as well as English. Each element within technology design will be user-friendly, so that technology does not confuse citizens but actually helps simplify processes and increase convenience. Fig. 5 shows the technology capacity map for Asaana.

Figure 5: Capacity Map for Asaana

Learning (L) for Asaana:

Drs. Cabreras define learning as “the continuous modification of mental models based on feedback from the external environment.”[25] According to them, “learning is the driver of organizational vision, mission, and capacity.”[26] In turn, the most important driver of learning is thinking.[27] Drs. Cabreras explain that a learning organization (LO) is one “in which the natural function of learning is directed toward vision, mission, and capacity.”[28] To create an LO, an organization must follow three steps:

  1. Build a culture of learning.
  2. Train people to think in order to learn.
  3. Use technology for organizational learning.[29]

While learning is going to feed all three elements, it should be considered as an essential capacity for Asaana. If the organization is not able to learn, it risks failure. As the current system of civil services suffers from the same problem, it has been unable to serve citizens. While learning is considered as a separate system, it should nonetheless be considered an integral part of capacity, vision, and mission. Each system will feed off of learning.

One of the key learning mechanisms for any organization is its own employees. The only thing that enables such learning is the presence of effective communication. In the case of public services, hindrances in communication have led to service failures. A similar example is the PS21 program,[30] a program that was aimed to reform the civil service in Singapore.[31]

Under the PS21 program, junior civil servants had a lot of useful insights on how to improve public services. The only thing that was missing was an avenue of communication with senior civil servants and policy makers that translate learning into improvements. In order to solve the problem, a staff suggestion scheme was introduced, through which people working at service desks can suggest improvements. If the procedural improvement led to better service and decreasing costs, the individual who suggested the idea would be rewarded financially. This suggestion scheme incentivized public officials to seek legal ways of getting monetary rewards. Thus, for Asaana, there should be a staff suggestion scheme that allows junior staff members to give suggestions for improving service delivery. Part of the saved costs will be given to whoever suggestsed the improvement.

Another learning mechanism that will make everyone part of Asaana is an enterprise fund that funds ideas that can save money and time during the delivery of public services. This will serve as a seed fund to which anyone within or outside the organization can apply. The main aim of this fund is to open Asaana to learning from each tier of society. Be it a normal citizen, an employee or anyone else, if anyone sees room for improvement, they will be able to make a suggestion. If the idea is deemed worthy of actual implementation, funding will be provided and the project will be led by whoever came up with the concept. Through leadership and financial rewards, individuals will be given recognition, which will build a culture of learning from the environment and from users.

Figure 6: Asaana Learning Mechanisms (in blue)

Another learning mechanism for the organization is feedback from citizens. The organization will form reference groups for various demographics. Each will meet with the design team frequently to give feedback on the services that were provided to them. Asaana will use design governance, a scheme in which the end-user of a service gets to play an active role in designing the service.

Asaana employees will have the benefit of attending courses at the National School of Public Policy in Lahore, Pakistan. However, the curriculum taught at the School is outdated, as many courses are more theoretical, rather than practical. For instance, there is a lot data being generated by each government agency. Such data is critical to understand the behavior and choices of citizens. If used effectively, this data can help public service providers stay one step ahead of citizens. The power of data is being leveraged around the world for delivering better public services. In Singapore, for instance, 26 courses are offered at the Civil Services College within the single area of data analytics.[32]

In Pakistan, there are no such courses, and most of them focus on theory. One course taught at the National School of Public Policy is “the study of economics and finance for socioeconomic development and political stability,” one in which there is no focus on the practical aspects of a public service provider’s role. To improve the skill-set of employees, specialized curriculum dealing with data management, service delivery, and customer experience management will be taught so that new methods and case studies can be used for improving overall performance.

Creating buy in: Enculturation of VMCL

According to Drs. Cabrera, “learning, mission and vision are a function of culture. So, the single thing that will bring together these three things about is culture.[33] Therefore, they suggest that organizations “do just one thing: build a culture of systems thinkers that are laser focused on your vision, and the simple rules of your mission.”[34] According to them, culture is comprised of shared mental models. Thus, to build a culture, one needs to build and share mental models.

The major challenge with Asaana is changing the mental models of all of its employees. Given the strong historic link that the civil service has had with governing the country without much concern for public welfare, there is a high tendency among employees of Asaana to think in the same manner. Mental models that are embedded in culture as well as colonial legacy are hard to break, and this alone is the toughest challenge for Asaana.

Asaana will implement a 360-degree evaluation system meant to make employees more conscious of how they deal with everyone: co-workers, managers, subordinates and, most importantly, citizens. In a holistic feedback model where everyone’s input is taken into account when evaluating performance, employees are more likely to be more respectful of each other. Similarly, by linking financial incentives to customer feedback, staff members at the help desk, those who are responsible for creating Asaana’s mission moments, will be incentivized to be courteous and helpful. The lady at the counter will know that she is being evaluated by the people who are standing at the window, that her financial rewards depend on how she treats them, and that if she thinks this system is inefficient, she can make suggestions to improve it through the staff suggestion scheme. This is likely to make her more proactive.

One of the key research findings in developing countries is that non-financial incentives are equally useful, if not more so, in making civil servants and public service providers do the right thing. An organization based on merit and fair practices that reward employees based on their performance is likely to retain talent, as individuals tend to stay with employers who have fair practices. Merit-based promotions and transparency in all HR-related decisions will be one of the key non-financial incentives for employees’ performance. Once employees feel that the organization is going to reward them by placing more trust in them and recognizing their achievements, they are likely to work harder. When the lady at the counter knows that if she does the right thing, she stands to gain from it, it is more likely that she quits her game of Solitaire.

To market the culture within the organization, the theme that will be used is that Asaana is not just about delivering public services, but it is about helping Pakistanis at every stage in life. From a birth certificate to the point where individual needs an identification card when they reach 18, to the point when they want a housing permit and in their late years, when most people want access to social security services, Asaana is an organization that helps Pakistanis through all stages of their life. It is not just public service delivery, but a partner that is there to help each step of the way. That is the underlying message that will be communicated to employees through an internal marketing campaign. This communication theme will be used not just to attract talent in the short run, but to make Asaana a career-oriented organization where people can build a career around serving the public, and not just around odd jobs. It is hoped that when the lady at the counter realizes that importance of her job and its impact on people’s lives, she will be more motivated to pay attention.

Many firms have recently acknowledge that a major determinant of job satisfaction is whether or not employees view their work as meaningful. Employees will be given the chance to participate in training sessions with partner institutes around the world, if they demonstrate innovation and a desire to make an impact. For instance, anyone whose idea is selected by the seed fund for implementation will get a chance to undergo training in project management at public policy schools around the world. This can be arranged with the help of donors and multilateral agencies who are already supporting many public service improvement programs in Pakistan. Australia has one of the best government schools in the world for service providers: the Australia and New Zealand School of Government. Asaana can build a partnership with AusAid, the aid agency of the Australian Government, to provide grants to 12 employees each year,whose ideas are chosen for implementation. This will result in employees seeing their peers getting international exposure, leading to personal development, which is another major influencer of employee motivation. Party photos will incentivize everyone in the organization to think along the lines of improving processes and become more entrepreneurial. Hence, if the lady at the counter sees her fellow worker going to Australia for not playing solitaire and actually googling ideas, she might start thinking along the same lines and come up with more ideas to help make public services easy.


By connecting vision, mission, capacity, and learning systems, Asaana will hopefully lead to public services being made easy. One key theme that must be present in the organization is to learn and adapt based on the feedback it receives. A best practice is only as good as its outcomes. While the organization might not become the agent of change in a single year, it will reach its intended goal if it is able to hire the right people and make sure that it constantly incorporates feedback into everything it does.


  1. Transparency International. “Global Corruption Barometer 2013 – Report.” Accessed October 15, 2017.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. “E-Khidmat Center | Punjab.” Accessed October 15, 2017.
  5. Ibid.
  6. 6. Ibid.
  7. Matt Andrews (2013) The limits of institutional reform in development: changing rules for realistic solutions,Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 254 pp.
  9. Ali Cheema, Asim Khwaja and Adnan Qadir, Local Government Reforms in Pakistan: Context, Content and Causes (2006), Evidence for Policy Design Working Paper, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
  10. One example of such organizational inertia is that many government departments still list fax numbers on their websites, whereas no email IDs are given for contact and complaints. This happens despite the fact that Pakistan has seen a massive infiltration of mobile phone and interment, and that barely anyone in the country still owns a fax machine. Communicating through these new channels is cheaper, more efficient and easy. Yet, the fact that departmental websites still list fax numbers illustrates the culture of government departments, one which stifles innovation.
  11. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Public Service Act (2014 ) Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Accessed at:
  12. Derek Cabrera and Laura Cabrera, “Chapter 4. Culture Made Simple,” (unpublished book, 2017), 10.
  13. Ibid. 10-11.
  14. Derek Cabrera and Laura Cabrera, “Chapter 5. See Vision (V),” (unpublished book, 2017), 11-12.
  15. Ibid. 11
  16. Ibid. 18
  17. Ibid. 11
  18. Ibid. 3
  19. Ibid. 9
  20. Derek Cabrera and Laura Cabrera, “Chapter 6. Do Mission (M),” (unpublished book, 2017), 10.
  21. Ibid. 25
  22. Ibid. 10
  23. Derek Cabrera and Laura Cabrera, “Chapter 7. Align Capacity (C),” (unpublished book, 2017), 3.
  24. Image Source:
  25. Ibid. 4
  26. Ibid. 2.
  27. Ibid. 23
  28. Ibid. 4
  29. Ibid. 4
  31. James Low and Toh Boon Kwan, “Staying Ahead of the Game : Key Reforms and Initiatives in the Reform of the Singapore Civil Service”, 2016, Civil Service College Singapore.
  32. Hasaan Khawar, Training Civil Servants (2017), Express Tribune. URL:
  33. Derek Cabrera and Laura Cabrera, “Chapter 11. CAS Organizations: Systems Leaders Wanted” (Systems Thinking Made Simple, 2015), 194.
  34. Ibid.


Mohammad Zohair Javed

Mohammad Zohair Javed

Zohair is a Fulbright Scholar completing his MPA at Cornell with a focus on International Development. His prior experience includes working in the e-commerce sector in Pakistan and interning at the Harvard Kennedy School where he worked on an education-related research project. He has an interest in governance, innovations in public service delivery, and social entrepreneurship.
Mohammad Zohair Javed

Written by Mohammad Zohair Javed

Zohair is a Fulbright Scholar completing his MPA at Cornell with a focus on International Development. His prior experience includes working in the e-commerce sector in Pakistan and interning at the Harvard Kennedy School where he worked on an education-related research project. He has an interest in governance, innovations in...
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