PM Essence

Indian Mythology connection to Project Management

- Anup Kumar Gupta, PMP, ITIL, IBM India Pvt. Ltd.

India is a multi-cultural, multiethnic, and multi-religious in nature. Indian ethos (characteristic spirit and belief of community/people which distinguishes one culture from the other) is drawn from the Vedas, the Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Bhagavad-Gita and Upanishad. It is to be noted that Ethos has nothing to do with ethics.

Indian epics such as Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagvad Gita are as precious to the Hindus as the Bible is to the Christians. It is also heartening to note that a recent management book that extols the virtues of Chanakya's philosophy has proved to be a best seller. This shows that age old concepts are as relevant today as they were centuries ago. We Indians have to be really proud of our rich cultural heritage and the great epics.

If read minutely, the Ramayana and Mahabharata are epics that teach us very pertinent things about Project Management. Parlance can be seen in the way Lord Rama set out on his project to get Devi Sita back from the clutches of the mighty Ravana.

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Ramayana essentially highlights that team work is important for achieving the project objective. The team struggles at all times to win against all odds. They use out-of-box thinking like to build bridges to Lanka and for Hanuman to get the entire sanjeevani hill itself when Lakshmana (Lord Rama's brother) was injured badly in the battle.

It is also important to note that when Hanuman tells Lord Rama that he will lift Devi Sita from Lanka, Lord Rama politely reminds him that he has to follow the ethical route to win back Sita, although Ravana had used all un-ethical means to entice Lakshmana and forcefully carry Devi Sita to Lanka.

It is very clear from the narration of Ramayana that Lord Rama made the best use of the skills and competence of Hanuman. Similarly the project Manageralso has to make the most of his SME's by effective delegation and empowerment.

Motivation and energizing the team, coaching, conflict management, communications strategies, overcoming complex issues, risk management, planning and scheduling, execution strategies, allocation of the appropriate resource for a particular task, decision making, out-of the box thinking to solve the problem – the Ramayana scores on every point that a modern project Management model would advocate. Therefore for a Project Manager of Indian origin who has such epics imbibes, it should not be too difficult for him to be successful and utilize his skills to be a very successful Project manager.

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Coming to Mahabharata, Lord Krishna who is at the helm of the affairs is truly a SPA (Single point accountable) person. He is dependable, confident and cherubic and inspires confidence in the pandavas even when the chips are down for them. Most inspiring during the whole episode of Mahabharata are the astute planning, flawless execution and a fantastic delegation of responsibilities..

It is a fact to ponder on why Lord Krishna chose to drive Arjuna's chariot? Arjuna was a great warrior but he was very emotional. As Lord Krishna knew that the strongest (physically) of the team was also weakest (emotionally) he ensured that he was always guiding and coaching Arjuna to achieve the objectives of the battle. In a similar parlance the skillful project manager should determine the strengths and weaknesses of his team members and guide and coach them to archive the success of the project.
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Another epic that has guided millions of Indians over times immemorial is the Bhagwad Gita. It is important to note that Gita deals with the focus on self – which is the most important aspect of a project Manager's presence. It is important for a PM to have a strong inner self to manage the complex situations of the global project.

Skilled resources are always a challenge on a complex global project. This is why it is important to learn how to choose wisely and utilize optimally. Krishna mocks the moment when Duryodhana chose Krishna's large army for help while Arjuna selected Krishna's presence and wisdom. Therefore, unlike Duryodhana, a good manager should never fail to see the bigger picture and act wisely to evaluate the alternatives.

Gita suggests that while one does some work, they should not get pre-occupied with the outcomes. It advises non-attachment to the results of actions performed while remaining accountable for the output of one's duty.

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The Gita advocates that everyone should build a visionary perspective in his or her work. One should see the importance of one's work beyond their desks and organizations because the importance extends to society in general.

The Gita talks about the righteous decision-making process. It says that in the midst of a tempest, one need to take decisions, and those should be righteous. Since Project Management practitioners come from diverse backgrounds and cultures, Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct applies globally.

 

From the above it is evident that Project Manager should be proud of his cultural heritage and utilize this intelligence in his global projects. He should be aware of his inherent strengths that his culture has bestowed on him and be proud of this fact during his project management profession.