Management mavens see lessons in Hazare's campaign

Experts and professors in business management have seen lessons that can be learnt from Anna Hazare's anti-corruption crusade, which has galvanised all India, according to a few management experts that The Times of India spoke to at home and abroad.

"Perhaps the critical management lesson is that 'big ideas' move companies, move communities, and move nations. Kennedy's 'man on the moon' is a big idea. Mahatma Gandhi's non-violence is a big idea. The Anna movement is an example of the power of big ideas," said Vijay Govindarajan, professor at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

"Anna has a great idea in the form of a cause. But, I do believe that a good idea must be backed by fine execution. Implementation of an idea is equally important," said Bala V Balachandran, J L Kellogg distinguished professor of accounting and information management, Northwestern University, who is also the founder and dean, Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai.

Balachandran has a suggestion for Team Anna. "If they were to apply the principles of Game Theory in a step-by-step manner, it has the potential to convert what appears to be a confrontational situation between the team and the government, into one that is cooperative. Using Anna as the facade, backed by the people supporting his cause, the team seems to have otherwise hit upon a success formula," said Balachandran.

The 'Game Theory' is used in card games like bridge and poker. It postulates that an individual can emerge successful by making choices depending on the choices of others. Many scholars have applied this theory across fields of social sciences, economics, management, operations research, political science, biology and psychology. He believes that in the end team Anna also has to connect with the government to traverse the last mile.

Sumit Mitra, executive vice-president (corporate HR), Godrej Industries, said, "If trust, faith and values form the basis of a leadership, one can be sure it will be sustainable in the long run."

The other lesson from the Hazare movement is that understanding your customer - in this case, the people - is a key to an organisation's success. According to Govindarajan, from the standpoint of management, the Anna movement has to be praised at three levels: first, it reinforces the notion that democracy is alive and well in India; second, the biggest enemy of economic growth is corruption; and third, social justice is critical to sustained economic growth.

"Hopefully, this movement will bring forth measures so that our laws can be enforced and transparency restored. The recent London riots are about class warfare. We witnessed more extreme versions of this in Tunisia and Egypt and continue to witness in Libya, Yemen and Syria. India cannot claim to become a global power unless we create income equality through equal opportunity," said Govindarajan.