A Structured Approach to Capacity Building

Evolution of a Strategy

CIDCO is a pioneer in the urban development sector in India and as such, it is constantly evolving in order to be prepared to face the challenges of the modern urban sector. CIDCO recognizes the significance of building its capacity as an urban development agency and it plans to implement interventions that:

  • Develop skills of its existing of employees.
  • Build behavioural and managerial skills in the young officers as the older staff in leadership roles retire.
  • Provide a work culture that retains and nurtures talent and prevent the loss of skilled employees to the private sector.
  • Make continuous learning a part of the work culture.

For these, CIDCO established the NIUA-CIDCO Smart City Lab, a research and capacity building unit in 2014 through a collaboration with the National Institute of Urban Affairs. Over the last three years, the Smart City Lab has conducted research on smart cities, aided the launch of CIDCO’s Smart City Action Plan and implemented several capacity building interventions for CIDCO. These interventions include a training needs assessment conducted in 2014-2015 and the facilitation of participation in trainings for CIDCO officers.

Recognizing that a lack of clear guidelines and a lengthy approval process for participation in a trainings are a barrier to capacity building, CIDCO adopted a training policy in 2017, with the support of the Smart City Lab. Objectives of this policy are:

  • To improve its organisational capacity through an approach that is structured, responsive, flexible and performance driven.
  • To overcome all institutional barriers to learning, adoption and diffusion of knowledge within the agency through human and technological resources.
  • To increasingly acknowledge that innovation consists of continuous learning and organisational problem solving.
  • To recognize that innovation is key to delivering services in a constantly changing urban landscape in India.
  • To promote the established theory that working relationships across individuals, hierarchies and departments are important for delivering capacity building and innovation.

Subsequently, the Lab developed an online training management system for its implementation. Earlier version of CIDCO@Smart1 has covered both of these in detail. A dedicated training cell at CIDCO maintains the online training management system ‘Ujjwal’. The training policy, Ujjwal and the training cell are the pillars of the comprehensive training programme at CIDCO.

Essentials for Change

The capacity building strategy adopted by CIDCO leverages the various reforms already being implemented at the ULB level across the country under e-Governance, financial management, BSUP, AMRUT and Smart City Mission. As noted in its Smart City Action Plan, CIDCO already is already working to digitise all of its process through solutions such as AutoDCR, COPAS and CFC. Complementing these strategies, CIDCO has adopted a demand driven approach for capacity building that works at two levels, organisational and individual.

Organisational/Institutional

  • Recognition of capacity building as a necessity.
  • Adoption of training policy.
  • Commitment of financial resources.
  • Establishment of training cell within CIDCO.
  • Implementation of an online training management system (Ujjwal).
  • Revision of institutional travel policy.

Pathways to Organisational Learning

Individual

  • Individual skill development for all Class I & II Officers.
  • Hand-holding and constant support for participating officers.
  • Prompt access to information about all potential courses at the click of a button.
  • Constant collection of feedback on the experience of CIDCO officers training through Ujjwal.

This two pronged approach makes the capacity building programme more robust. It enables the Smart City Lab to customise the trainings to suit the needs of CIDCO’s officers and all of its departments. Additionally, support from CIDCO’s leadership and an equal focus on all disciplines within the agency, makes this capacity building effort stand out.

Key Takeaways

NIUA is and continues to be a Knowledge Partner for CIDCO. This is a unique collaboration given the broad mandate of the NIUA-CIDCO Smart City Lab: provide support to CIDCO’s technical personnel through action research, training, innovation, documentation and capacity building with a particular focus on the development of ‘smart cities’. The Smart City Lab’s work over the last three years has yielded important learnings regarding implementation of capacity building interventions at the local level. These lessons are particularly important as they are based on the work of a hybrid training unit embedded within CIDCO. Based on these lessons, following are the recommendations for the implementation of capacity building at the local level:

  • Adopt a policy or pass a resolution within the agency that defines capacity building objectives and allocates resources for it (human & financial). This is an essential to provide clear guidelines that enable and encourages employees to participate in trainings. The CIDCO’s training policy is available for its Officers to review online through the agency’s intranet and through NIUA-CIDCO Smart City Lab’s website. Since the adoption of the policy, participation of CIDCO Officers in training programmes over a period of four months has quadrupled. The number increased from 21 to 100 following the implementation of this capacity building programme.
  • Dedicate time to understand processes within the agency is critical. It is the very first step towards the simplification of the training approval process. CIDCO was able to reduce its training participation approval time from about a fortnight to two to three days.
  • Engage with other cities across the world through knowledge exchanges, conferences and workshops. Capacities can be built through exchanges among different local agencies – locally, nationally and internationally. Best case practices demonstrate successful interventions and enable easy adoption.
  • Allow flexibility within the institutional policies to overcome barriers and build a supporting ecosystem. CIDCO revised its travel policy to allow its officers greater options of arranging travel to and from training institutes.

With the policy, the training cell and the online training management system (Ujjwal) in place, the Smart City Lab is now collating data to highlight the impact of CIDCO’s comprehensive approach on its overall capacity. The next step will be to scale up the interventions by building partnerships with premier training institutes who can provide customised trainings to CIDCO Officers.

CIDCO’s commitment to the capacity-building interventions is a direct result of its learning and growth as an organisation. Through the implementation of this comprehensive capacity building programme, CIDCO and the Smart City Lab are on their way to transforming attitudes towards capacity building within the agency and beyond.