The person at the top, like a Minister or a Governor, or the head of an institution should not get stuck in the bureaucracy. Senior people should sometimes come down and talk to people of every level. Not at all times, but sometimes it helps.
In a research setup, for example, there is a director and the people who are working under him on the second and third level may have great creative ideas. Now the director may not agree with those ideas even if they are good, but the head of the institution will sometimes have to listen to those ideas.
A gentleman working on the second or third level of a top government establishment had come to meet me. He said he had an idea that could save resources and funds, and reduce costs of the project to the extent of 60-70%. This is an innovative idea. Young people have innovative ideas. But the top director is conservative. He has been working for a very long time and is tired and is now about to retire. All these years he had climbed his way up to reach the level of a director and is not too adventurous like the enthusiastic young people. So this man has a good idea but the director thinks he knows how to do the job already and this new idea may not work and therefore he has put it aside.
The ministers who are in charge of this department should take this up. The juniors are afraid to talk to the ministers, as it is a question of losing their job. In a bureaucracy fear comes up, "If I do this, or say that, I may be isolated or lose my job", etc. That’s how the mind works. So out of fear people put a cap on their creativity and sit on their ideas. Here, what would be very useful is if the top official or the minister were to approach these people and have a word with them. Talk to them once in a while so that they can open their hearts and minds and share their thoughts and ideas. If this is done, the environment can be transformed from one of authority and fear to one that is friendly, open and innovative. For innovation you need an atmosphere free of fear.
Again, here there is a risk of losing discipline in an organisation. If the top officials are in touch with juniors, why would juniors even listen to the seniors? This can become an issue, and the senior persons may feel completely disempowered, or feel that they won't have any control over the juniors and may not be able to get any work done. There is a risk here, because for every little thing the juniors may reach out to the higher authorities when they have easy access to them. This is one supposed or perceived disadvantage of this system. On the other hand, if we are stuck in the bureaucracy that everything has to always go through the system, it could be stifling for creativity.
We need to find a balance. How do you find a balance? That's a big question. The balance to keep the system from collapsing and at the same time allowing the creativity to blossom. This requires thorough training for the senior management. If the senior management is friendly open and confident, and does not feel threatened by the juniors, they can get things done. Some people wanted me to talk about management so I thought I will bring up this point.