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Friday, February 12, 2010

Leadership Lessons Through Project Management from Around - India 2025

After about 60 years of independence India is still considered a country developing itself. Since the 1990s India has embarked on a serious transformation initiative and has not turned its face back. The Indians understand their mission, its significance and are committed to making it a reality.

Today India, the world's second largest populous country and the 10th largest economy is expected to be the 3rd largest economy in the world by 2025. Indians are making use of many factors to reach this expectation, among them is project management. How are Indians using project management principles to avoid a business as usual status, and become a global leader bringing inspiration to other nations?

Unfortunately many successful organizations and growing institutions focus on the immediate gains, although immediate gains are important and required to ensure positive cash flow and growth, it can in some cases make longer term goals, issues and actions less clear and understood.

Indians have invested heavily in promoting project management concepts, knowledge and practice. A surge in project management certification has been witnessed in the last decade. Indians have been keen on bringing project management conferences to their country, this was noticed by holding the first International Project Management Association (IPMA) world conference outside of Europe in forty years, in New Delhi.

Applying project management principles to the business process outsourcing (BPO) sectors has resulted in the abundance of best practices and streamlined approaches. Heavy investment into various sectors such as transportation, construction, energy and healthcare is resulting in the abundance of projects requiring even further application of project management skills and knowledge. The Indians have been successful in applying lessons learned in the these sectors to other areas of the society which has traditionally not applied project management such as tourism, education and research.

Cross industry lessons and critical thinking are key success factors for institutional leadership. The ability of an institution to apply project management concepts across industries could result in huge economies of scale and growth opportunities

Indians have not only used project management for capital projects, but also its application is expanding into the management of operations, training, competence development, new product development and services.  This has been assisted by the introduction of project management into educational curriculum at institutes of higher education [1, 2]. Moreover the Indian government has provided incentives to businesses [3, 4, 5] to establish training centers and to develop competency in core competence areas including project management.

Interestingly, although India ranks lowest in a study published by the International Growth Centre analyzing management practices at firms. India scores above the US when it comes to the percentage of firms applying sound management practices.

We learn several lessons from the Indian experience, most important are:

  1. Institutions which wish to accelerate their growth need to look at experiences not only within industry, but across industries.
  2. Project management brings scalability benefits and allows the institution to take on larger loads of work and initiatives in a streamlined approach.
  3. Project management for services, and managing operations as projects could bring in order, improve quality, and enhance performance.
  4. Investing is project management education and competence development in younger generations and introducing project management as a field of study is critical to skills development.

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