With all the corruption rampant in India, it is a refreshing surprise to see a huge proejct like the Delhi Metro come in on time and budget and actually make money. How is this possible? A great article in Australia's The Age looks into this to find that the project's success hinges on the personality, strength and confidence of the Project Manager, E Sreedharan.
Sreedharan agreed to take on the Delhi metro on one condition: no political interference. He hired a small, motivated staff, solely on merit, paid them well, and sent them overseas to study how the world's best metros worked. He insisted on developing expertise within the organisation, rather than relying on consultants.
Deadlines and budgets had to be realistic and achievable; but once set, they were not to be altered, save in compelling circumstances. Once a decision was made, it was final. If anything went wrong, there was no hunt for scapegoats, only for solutions. A colleague told Forbes magazine that in 30 years of working together, he never heard Sreedharan shout at anyone.
There was no mercy, however, if the issue was corruption, so rife in India. Anyone caught was out immediately. Sreedharan ignored the rule book on competitive tenders to award tenders to firms he trusted - but if they failed to deliver on time, quality and budget, they, too, were out. Politicians used to pulling strings to get jobs or contracts for their allies found their strings were cut.
Mr. Sreedharan was named India's man of the year for his efforts and the government won't let the 81 year-old man retire.