Thursday, September 8, 2011

Project Management Approach to Nation Building

This week in Bangalore at the PMI National Conference 2011, I had the pleasure of hearing India's former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam on the topic of Project Management Approach to Nation Building. A truly inspirational speech which exhorted the audience of mostly project managers to be leaders and create leaders in the task of nation building. Dr Kalam recounted his experiences in ISRO and DRDO around project management.

The question I had formulated to ask the eminent speaker and which was expressed in most of the questions from the rest of the audience was to solicit his views on tackling corruption - one of the big obstacles to nation building which has been brought under the spotlight  very harshly in recent times.
In his replies, Dr Kalam beseeched parents and teachers to instill in their children a value system which prevents the very thought of corruption as a normal way of life. This would lead to a revolution of truth with the youth brigade leading the charge and which questions their elders and seniors when and where they see a wrong practice - be it in their homes itself.

He also pointed to the initiatives in e-governance which he had started while he was President of India, and pointed out the transparency and accountability this inherently brings in public dealings.
Another very powerful concept that Dr Kalam elaborated was creating a Brand of Integrity around oneself which then permeates to the environment around one and starts increasing the Circle of Integrity. He explained how due to this brand of integrity which he himself followed and promoted, in his 40 years of experience in dealing with public funds as well as dealings with government officials and people's representatives, no one ever asked him to do anything wrong. That is the value which his Brand of Integrity confers on him and his work.

Dr Kalam asked us to take a pledge to work with integrity and suceed with integrity. He also pointed out the importance of managing failures better than managing success.

A few key take-aways from his speech on project management for nation building -
- What worked yesteday is not going to work in today's changing, tumultous and volatile times. The focus has indeed shifted from
  • availability of resources to availability of knowledge,
  • hierarchy to synergy,
  • command to facilitation,
  • order to empower and
  • seniority or authority to creativity
My earlier blog postings on a similar topic is listed here for relevance. The redundancy of hierarchies