Letter from MD, PMI India | Download a PDF version  

It was a mega project that was completed within five years with minimal resources and no cost overruns. The

success story of Akshardham, the 100-acre religious complex built with 300,000 hand-carved stones in New Delhi, is one of human commitment and grit.


Mr. Kalpesh Bhatt, a volunteer for the Akshardham project, saw how project management helped ordinary people create an extraordinary masterpiece. “Even ordinary people with limited resources and myriad problems can succeed,” said Mr. Bhatt. In the case of Akshardham, funds and labor were the biggest constraints.


The team decided to do reverse planning. The project required 7,000 artisans while there were only 1,000. The team set up stone-carving institutes in 26 places across Rajasthan to train hundreds of artisans who were later used for the project. Mr. Bhatt spoke about following Kaizen methodologies to reduce wastage of raw material. The project was planned and managed with the help of volunteers, sadhus (holy men) and ordinary workers.


Ms. Monica Semeniuk spoke about project conflicts and successes, causes of conflicts, techniques to manage

expectations, and how communication can be used to manage conflicts. She explained the co-relation between resolving conflicts and increasing project success, and how interpersonal skills and communication are the key to resolving conflicts.


“Be attentive, look beyond the surface and recognize the complexities of human behavior. Use your interpersonal skills to resolve conflicts, overcome resistance to change, build trust, and bring cultural relevance,” she advised project managers.


She mentioned the following seven rules in managing projects: address conflicts early, uncover motivations, look for relationships between issues, involve senior management as a rescue squad or as preventive care, try to resolve issues amicably, use multiple routes and forms of communication, and stay calm and keep your head above water. And above all, preparation is important for achieving your goals and expectations.


Prof. S.D. Kshirsagar spoke about managing innovations in project management. Project routines are repetitive,

and embody previous experience, learnings, and tacit knowledge. While this is important as project experience can bring efficiency into new projects, innovation is a change in routines and a creative response to a challenge. He pointed out that mega projects with vast investments require innovative treatment.


“You need to balance routine and innovation. In any project, if there is more scope for innovation, it does not mean there is less scope for routine.

A project manager could have two kinds of competencies: technical competency and leadership competency. If

you’ve mastered both, you’re not just a manager but a leader. Mr. Phil Bristol spoke about the various attributes that go into converting a manager into a leader. For example, a manager uses authority or relies on controls to get results, whereas a leader influences, motivates, and inspires trust relationships which form the basis of the team’s performance. Of the skills that a leader possesses, emotional intelligence is crucial. “As a project manager, it is crucial to know how to manage emotions of different people differently,” said Mr. Bristol. He illustrated how the use of Neuro-Linguistic Programming; Dominance, Influencing, Steadiness, Compliance (DISC); and Arbinger frameworks can help leaders develop infl uence skills that they require to manage teams and projects better.


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