PM Essence

Gandhiji's Management Principles behind Project Independence

By Shikha Vaidh, PMP, Capgemini
Being born after India's Independence, the 'freedom' was unconditionally doled out to me and I consider this as the greatest privileged I enjoy today. On the eve of our Independence day, I got into a pensive mood and tried to reflect how Mahatma Gandhi, aptly regarded as the Father of Nation, could unite the Countrymen and other luminary leaders during his time to the common vision of getting Freedom of our country from British rule, then mobilize them to 'execute' the vision by exemplary leadership, strong communication and execution plan. Being a project management professional I myself was naturally inclined to imagine that 'Independence' can also be considered as a 'project' where Gandhiji was trying to provide something 'unique' to his motherland.

As we all know MG was the lynchpin of the India's freedom struggle. Let us try to understand Mahatma Gandhi efforts in successfully executing his mission of giving freedom to India from the British rule.

So, let me highlight few strategies and leadership qualities our Father of Nation applied for gaining independence from the British and how those methods and leadership strategies can be mapped to today's Project Management strategies.

auga1img1
To inspire and bring more involvement from Indian citizens Gandhiji utilized, several principles which are termed as AGILE principles today are described below:

AGILE Principle(s) -
(i) Satisfy the customer through early & continuous delivery, 
(ii) Tangible milestone (Working software) is the primary measure of progress

As we know the success on project Independence was achieved after crossing multiple milestones. Gandhiji invented and used nonviolent methods. Some of the Major Milestones and freedom struggles from British rule led by him are,

a) Non Co-operation Movement - September 1920–February 1922
b) Civil Disobedience Movement – March 1930
c) Quit India Movement (Bharat Chhodo Andolan) – August 1942
d) India Independence Movement – August 1947

AGILE Principle - (iii) Build projects around motivated individuals

Impact and success of each milestone (movement) inspired Indian citizens towards project goal, every man; women and child began dreaming of a free India. This helped him to build the team of motivated individuals around him.

One of the main tactic in Gandhi's fight against the British which was what he called “Satyagraha”, which means “Soul-Force” or “The power of truth”.

auga1img2

His belief was and inspired people to be true to life can make their life easier. We may face a lot of failures and setbacks initially for being truthful and on the right path, but at the end we will emerge as a true winner.

Similarly, in today's world making the customer aware of the right status and situation helps Project Managers to get the customer buy-in to understand their vision as well as team buy-in to take further necessary actions based on the received feedback.


AGILE Principle(s) - (iv) The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from selforganizing teams
(v) Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility

Gandhiji was very open-minded and had a tolerance towards all religious. He believed and communicated that the paths of all religions lead to the same goal of achieving 'Truth'. He looked participation of people of all religion, caste & economic status in his movement (Workforce Diversity), diversity results in better performance on complex decisions and problems; this helped him to understand the risks issues in a diversified manner during all his movements. Similarly, it is important to be an open minded leader who is always prepared to welcome and accept changes. Gandhiji preached people to learn the value to truth, self-restraint and ahimsa or nonviolence and made sure he kept on reiterating the same thing whenever he addressed his countrymen. Gandhiji always taught only those things which he himself practiced. Sacrifice, Commitment, Heavy emphasis on self - awareness and discipline. He always kept his commitments, and walked-thetalk. He had high degree of emotional intelligence and showed great understanding of understanding human behavior. He believed in the power of patience and perseverance in getting 'quality' results and said “Patience & perseverance can overcome
mountains”.

As Project Managers we know learning gives the real empowerment to the people. Domain or functional knowledge always helps project managers and leaders to lead teams and manage the projects in a better way, absence of which can lead to multiple issues like understand the criticality and priority of things to be delivered. Once we keep learning new things it improvises the knowledge which in turn helps managing the team, delivering the right deliverables on time with better quality.

Agile Principle – (vi) Keeping things “Simple” is an important tool for effective communication and gain 'acceptance' from different stakeholders

Simplicity is essential, Gandhiji's way of living, teaching, books and even quotes were very simple and admirable. Simplicity was his greatest virtue. Simplicity is the basic mantra for any successful project. Have a vision towards the goal, plan for it and work hard to achieve it.

He was an excellent listener, Gandhiji wanted to make villages self dependent. He developed local leaders at grassroots level i.e. he built leaders by delegation (De- Centralization). As we celebrate our 66th independence anniversary we can take a leaf from volumes of articles written on Gandlhi's leadership and motivate ourselves to push the boundaries to execute our projects despite the inevitable challenges and barrier we might encounter down the way.