Wednesday, 31 August 2011 12:24

Six Ways to Deliver IT Solutions…the Gandhi Way

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History witnessed one man motivating half a billion people to follow his vision, implementing non-violence strategies, and executing architecture for ‘Quit India’ movement. I believe this commemorative piece of solution delivery (Indian Independence) crafted and led by Mahatma Gandhi a.k.a. Bapu (Father of the Nation) resembles to [1]  following ways through which we deliver IT solutions.       

  1. Stick to the Vision

During solutions delivery, it is easy to drift while moving toward deadlines. Drift happens if there are frequent changes in the vision due to imminent business challenges, as well as external factors. These changes affect scope and delivery timelines. Vision changes may also cause rework in affected project areas. Implementation of analysis, build and test strategies, and definition of knowledge transfer channels allow teams to stick to project or program vision. Bapu’s vision was precise (clearly defined), correct (non-violence strategy can deliver), complete, and conforming (to every citizen’s dream of a peaceful India). He proved that sticking to the vision and communicating the vision through your own acts works.    

 

  1. Stay Together

While delivering solutions, we have to work in teams. To build unity and teamwork, we employ various channels. Kickoff meetings help bring team members on the same page. Definition of modules or sub modules is helpful in channeling the scope. A program can be divided into projects in order to allocate resources efficiently. Organizational structure tailored to the project or program can synthesize responsibilities for the team. Weekly and monthly team meetings help connect teams and facilitate implementation. Bapu united people and tackled the challenge of independence through organized opposition. Through his famous ‘Salt March’ movement, he proved to the people of India that independence movements can be effectively executed only if people are united. Similarly, if the team members are together, they can deliver IT solutions effectively.  

  1. Adapt to Change

As delivery professionals, we are confronted with changes while delivering solutions. The appropriate approach is needed for each change based on its expected impact. A response to a change may come in the form of updates to deliverables, resource allocation, process reengineering, etc. Implementation of communication channels facilitates development phases, adds quality to deliverables, and allows teams to adapt and react to changes faster. Whenever Bapu didn’t get a response for his non-violence policies, he applied those differently. Positive results from peaceful mass-resistance movements gradually diverted people toward following non-violence. It was the same in Bapu’s time: changes are inevitable; teams should be able to adapt and react to them.

  1. Never Hit Back

It is always challenging for leaders to motivate their teams. Project leaders should let their team follow the way they want within predefined boundaries. Project leaders need to trust team members and should feel their pain. They have to support them, let them grow, and set them free. They should listen to what the team or its members are saying and are reluctant to say. Project leaders should convert and not coerce the wrongdoers as depicted in non-violence principles. Bapu knew that violence would make independence tougher. He won the ruler’s agreement through peaceful acts. The same principle applies while delivering solutions; hitting back may only make the situation worse.

  1. Believe in People

During solutions delivery, we believe less in people than tools and processes. Tools present information in a structured format. For most tools, their defined structure can’t be changed. Tools may create an additional communication layer between people and the firsthand information. Processes can be demanding, tedious, and time consuming. Tools and processes are necessary; however, we have to employ a human brain to analyze their output. The tools and processes we use should do not hamper our ability to think outside the boxed information the tools present. Bapu counted on the people of India to deliver independence. His principles and their execution proved that investing in people and developing a culture (of non-violence) works. Emphasis should be placed on people who can employ resources appropriately to deliver solutions as observed in this classic piece of history. 

  1. Let it Go

Teamwork is a great way to share expertise to deliver effective IT solutions. As teams spend time together, team members interact with others. More team members means higher chances of conflict. The conflict may arise due to preferred ways of doing things, unnecessary comments about someone or something, resistance to or acceptance of policies, disagreement on business or technical issues, and so on. Conflict with someone or resistance to change may hamper teamwork and affect the delivery. Because of conflicts, focus may be shifted from delivery-oriented solution development. Excess conflict may set the team or project in self-destruction mode. So whenever you confront an avoidable conflict, let it go. 

In conclusion, Bapu’s objectives were S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, result-oriented, time-bounded); he envisioned peaceful India, managed its requirements, and led the delivery of independence by obtaining agreement for his non-violence strategies. I am sure Bapu had figured out related context diagrams, high-level scenarios, constraints as well as dependencies in his mind. He and his team also made sure that no rework is needed.   

Thus, Bapu’s principles resemble those needed for a planned execution of IT solution delivery. As I finish this article, I feel honored to be able to apply Bapu’s principles to my profession.

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1. “Gandhi An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments,” M. K. Gandhi (Author), Mahadev H. Desai (Author), Sissela Bok (Foreword), Beacon Press, 1993.

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Swagat Irsale

Swagat Irsale is an Agile professional. His interests are SaaS Product development, and people management. He graduated from Auburn University. He can be reached at swagat.irsale@gmail.com or http://in.linkedin.com/in/swagati

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