Why the Green Movement is doomed

Everything I wanted to know about revolution, I learned in a project management class


Why the Green Movement is doomed
by Siamack Baniameri

Change, revolution, transformation, reform is a project. Like any project, it has to meet certain requirements to succeed. Every project has some common principles. The outcome must be clearly defined, right team must be assigned, a clear strategy must be put in place, risk assessment must be implemented and most importantly … the process must be executed by the right leader. The leader must be able to sell his/her vision to the team. The team must be able to sell the leader’s vision to the stakeholders. The leader must consistently explain the outcome to the team, anticipate roadblocks and recalibrate strategy. The team must share the vision and trust the leader. The leader must execute, foresee, inspire and reiterate. All stakeholders must be onboard.

There are many examples in history that support this theory. Ayatollah Khomeini for example ran a successful project to overthrow the Shah of Iran. He clearly defined the outcome: “Shah must go.” He then defined the vision, “independence, freedom, Islamic Republic.” He assigned a team of nationalists to run the campaign inside and outside of Iran which gave his movement a nationalistic credential. In his taped speeches he reiterated the vision which included phony catch phrases that brought all factions of the opposition together. He inspired people and executed his project (revolution) with tight grip. And ultimately his project succeeded and his goals were achieved. Some argue that the Ayatollah was a con artist who deceived the populace to establish a form of government that served only an exclusive segment of the society. That might be true, but it does not change the fact that Khomeini was an effective project manager.

Nelson Mandela is another example of superb project management. He too defined his goals clearly: “Apartheid regime must vanish.” He developed a roadmap that directed his team to pickup arms and fight the government of South Africa. But he cleverly changed course when he realized that his original strategy did not bear fruit (flexibility). He quickly purged his team of leftist radicals and replaced them with lawyers, political experts and clergymen (recalibration). From his prison cell, he explained the reasons behind the change of strategy to his new team (risk assessment) and invited his team to go out in the field and sell the vision to the community. The common goal brought the stakeholders (residents of the townships) onboard and the roadmap gave the team a clear path to follow. The vision was defined, the outcome was explained, strategy was in place and the execution was carried out. Mandela won. Apartheid lost.

Gandhi and MLK took the same path. They too followed successful project management principles. During the life of any project, things will go wrong all the time. But a great project manager maneuvers his/her way around obstacles with the ultimate goal in mind.

Now, here it goes: the green movement lacks most, if not all elements of a successful project management. There is no clear leadership. Therefore no clear path has been set by the leader(s). No vision, no cohesive strategy and most importantly: no clear goal. The team can not define its objectives with a unified voice. The vision has not been communicated to the stakeholders; therefore, just about every participant has its own version of the outcome. People are not clear as to exactly what the goals of the movement are. Other than participating in demonstrations during IRI national occasions, there is no clear roadmap. Lack of cohesive strategy has allowed IRI to easily manipulate the movement’s rank and file.

Some argue that people are the true leaders of the green movement. Though sounds romantic, the argument holds no water as it implies that a car with strong engine but no wheels can get you to your destination. One thing that the green movement has clearly going for it is passion. But passion alone will not achieve goals. At some point a project manager with strong leadership skills must emerge or this movement will eventually flicker out.


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by Paykar on

are not corporations. The dynamics, historical context, along wit high emotions of the masses, give it dimentions that diffrentiates it from anarrow goal of an economic enterprise

Adopting  model of "Management" to mass movements ignores the most pertinent element of the equation, namely, Human drama.

If corporate players possesed a tiny fraction of the dedication and self sacrifice of ordinary protesters on the streets of Tehran, world economy would have been in a much better shape.

We are in an era which the notion of "leadership" is changing rapidly, it's the countless masses who are able to communicate instantly with one another, in other words, the collective consciousness forms and transforms the movement in an astonishingly rapid pace.

It may require a somewhat strong final blow for the regime to fall, but it's millions of paper cuts inflicted  by thousands of "leaders" that might get us to that point-this time, the revolution is truely an Evolution on steriods.


Your analysis is 100% right BUT

by Faramarz_Fateh on

some times things happen accidentally due to sheer momentum of an event.

For me. the goal and outcome is clear; a secular democracy called Iran. But not sure if this is a shared vision.

Back in September of last year I wrote a blog called "its 2010 an IRI is is gone, who is leading Iran?" //iranian.com/main/blog/faramarz-fateh/it...

Back then I didn't know who was the leader of this revolution and I still don't.  

Sometimes outcomes of accidents are good.  Other times its a bigger disaster.

Thanks for a very well written piece.  It helps clarify things in a simple to understand terms. 


As Dr. Sahimi said, this is

by vildemose on

As Dr. Sahimi said, this is not a sprint. It's a Marathon.

Khomeini started his project in earnest  back in 1962 (1341), perhaps even earlier.




by vildemose on

'Reflections on Democracy' by NADER HASHEMI 29 Jan 2010 02:148 Comments

Reflections on Democracy, Non-Violence and Political Change in Iran

[ analysis ] Struggles for democracy generally require three critical ingredients for success: effective and incorruptible leadership, a strategy for mass mobilization and a sense of hope that engenders sacrifice. Last year at this time, none of these existed in Iran. The clerical oligarchy was firmly in control, the Reform movement was in disarray and political apathy reigned supreme. Today, eight months after the disputed presidential election, all three key ingredients are now firmly in place. Defying expectations, Iran's Green Movement (Jonbesh-e Sabz-e Iran) soldiers on in the face of an authoritarian regime whose brutal suppression has failed to intimidate or subdue it. Whether this movement will be triumphant is unknown but what is clear is that an indigenous movement for democracy has delivered a major blow to the Islamic Republic: Iranian politics henceforth will never be the same. How did these three elements come together?


Understanding the origins and the defiant posture of the leadership of the Green Movement requires returning to an event in August 2000 that marked a critical denouement for the reformist-conservative struggle in Iran. At this time, the Reform Movement was in its prime, winning landslide elections at the presidential, municipal and most recently the parliamentary level. Hope for democratic change was in the air as Reformers captured all of the key democratically-contested institutions of the state in quick succession, to the shock and bewilderment of their conservative rivals.

The first item on the legislative agenda of reform-dominated 6th parliament (2000-2004) was to overturn an illiberal press law passed in the final days of the outgoing hard-line parliament. The print media in Iran had flourished during President Khatami's first term and quickly became a bastion of support for pro-democracy activists. Courageous journalists and editors were breaking political taboos by transcending the narrow ideological confines of Iran's post-revolutionary elite consensus. A public sphere was created whereby Iranian society was in full scale debate -- to the mortification of the ruling clerical establishment -- about the relationship between tradition and modernity, religion and democracy and the moral basis of legitimate political authority.



"I have no future" clearly defines outcome of this movement

by didani on

Why your project management view can not be applied to this movement …

In a corporate environment, people are confined to the structure of the corporation and “the project”. In a movement, people are not confined to the will of their leaders. Specially in recent Iran events, people have crowded the streets even without Mousavi and/or Karoubi’s blessing.

Also sitting thousands of miles away, how can we say there are no leaders?! How can we cross out the possibility of underground “projects” as we speak. Coming back from Iran, here is the explanation of a teen telling his mother why he will continue to go to the streets and fight this regime … “I have no future anyway, even if I get killed, there may be hope for others like me”.

You need to add another criteria to your perfect project …. LEADERS ARE BEING BORN.


The green movement may be doomed but,

by jasonrobardas on

       Excellent  points regarding the tactics and the logistics of the operation for  transformation .

       The green movemnt may be doomed because its so called lesders are "Akhoonds" and "Akhoond manesh "and "Akhoond maslak" and " Akhoond Zadeh" ,

    .  But remember the IRI is also accerlerating its own doom by cracking down on people more heavy handedly  than ever . Its' downfall is certain . The respobsiblility of what replaces it , lies on the shoulders of those same folks who couragously take part in oppositions .

     Call me a romantic fool but I think  the history is on the right side . It is on the side of the people . 


Good points

by cyclicforward on

You have touched very good points and you are right. I hope that some how somewhere, this magical leader shows up and stir this ship. It is obvious that Karroubi and Mousavi are part of the establishment and will not make the right choices at the end. It is best to look elsewhere.

Sardar Assad

Low grade management trainees and interns

by Sardar Assad on

in PR for the iri are sure flocking to this forum, are not they?


On the ball

by saadat bahar on

Some very good points. e.g. the romantic notion that people are the leaders is not going to work.

But please note: There is a struggle for leadership between the realists and the radicals. Each has its own agenda. This can be seen in their statements and activities.

Also, leadership is not strong because security forces hvae cracked down on them (detentions, trials, etc.) and wants to deprive the movement of a leadership for hte very reasons that you mention.