A lack of vision is not a bad thing if the system is good.
A vision, no matter how good, is worthless if it cannot be implemented properly because of bad formulation or a bad system.
Visions, if too many, may be conflicting which may then render them worthless because of their ineffectiveness, not matter how efficient the implementation.
In Malaysia, we suffer from too many visions and one bad system.
1. Bad System
A system is bad when it cannot cope with the issues of the normal situation, either in terms of the volume of work, or in terms of the quality or appropriateness of its response.
A bad system may be the result of poor design, poor hardware, poor software.
In a third world country, the first problem is often poor design - because of the inability to see beyond the immediate. The system gets stuck in its rudiments. Incompetence or lack of hardware then hampers its evolution to a higher order. The system becomes anachronistic and under-resourced - under-resourced because of the anachronism.
Throwing more resources at a bad system without overhauling the system merely continues a bad system.
Old workers who know best "the system" are usually the culprits at arresting system change. Fresh and keen minds are needed, but only after they have studied and understood the nature of the job.
The only way the Old and the Young can be made to focus on the system change is to focus on the efficiency of the system.
2. Too Many Visions
This may be quite a unique situation in Malaysia - because there are just too many cooks.
A bad system, by itself, throws out many problems. The many problems are the signs of a bad system.
Trying to solve the many problems one by one will be an endless task - as well as a thankless task.
The many visions of Malaysia is a sign that we are trying to remove the symptoms and not trying to identify the root cause.
The many visions or directions given to government agencies are, in themselves, a sign of a bad system as well as an additional problem to a bad system. This traffic jam of directions could be a major reason for the stalemate in the delivery of the public sector.
The only way out of this traffic jam of directions is for the Department Head to deliver to the Big Chief personally by diverting existing resources from other functions (which usually affect those without a voice).
It is no wonder that people in senior positions heap awards on each other.
While those who do all the work in the middle and bottom of the service are generally forgotten - tied to those posts, as it were, by the invisible leash of the pension.
3. Speed & Quality
When there are too many ideas and there is an addiction to speed of implementation, in a bad system, the only adjustment factors are the cost and quality of the implementation. High cost, bad job.
Performance then becomes an arbitrary term to describe the job that is required.
Performance - quantity or quality.
Mediocrity is the general path because it may be the most cost-efficient way out. But as the quality requirements increase, costs will rise accordingly.
High costs, good job can only be accomplished by trained and experienced workers, with proper tools and resources.
4. Last Word
But building a good system requires a vision.