7 Lessons for CEO’s from Aam Aadmi Party’s Revival in Delhi

In a remarkable feat, upstart political party – Aam Aadmi Party, consisting of non-political contestants swept across the elections for the Delhi Assembly poll.

People across the nation had expected them to put a decent fight but not many expected them to win 67 of the 70 assembly seats. What makes this feat even more remarkable is that they did this after suffering a humiliating defeat during the national lok sabha elections that concluded less than a year ago.

In my opinion, there are a lot of lessons for CEO and business owners if they understand the way this party transformed itself and conquered the Delhi assembly.

  1. Customer Centricity: Post their defeat in the national elections, the leadership of the party went back to their customers (voters) and worked hard to find out the real issues are. They decided to leave everything else aside and focus on this state and the people of this state. They put the voters at the center of every single activity that they did. This focus showed off, as the voters (customers) felt that this is a party that truly understands their issue and has the will to do something about it.
  2. Competition: There is nothing much to be gained by focusing your efforts on discrediting the competition. This is a tactic that all political parties have used since time immemorial to sway the public and win elections. This is also a tactic that a lot of businesses use to win business from their prospects. Times have changed and now people want to work with someone who is focused on what they can provide and nothing else seem to matter. On the contrary, it might even be harmful for your organization if you continue to discredit your competition.
  3. Feedback and Action: Post their defeat in the national elections, the volunteers and the leaders of AAP, went back to their customers and sought their feedback. They did not stop there. They actually acted on the feedback that they received. Even though they were not in power, their leaders continued to work in their constituency as it they were the elected leaders. They ran more than 900 local meetings with the voter community to seek feedback on their own actions, the local issues and debated on how to solve those issues. Based on these debates, they had their topics on which they wanted to fight the elections ready, which ultimately, led them to victory.
  4. Co-create: People are more likely to continue to support you if they have been involved in the creation of the services or solutions that they would be sold. In the 900+ meetings that the AAP held, all the local issues were discussed and they asked the local people about the probable solutions. When you tap into the creativity & ingenuity of hundreds of thousands of minds that are close to their problems, chances are that you will come up with the best solutions. Best part is that since the people participated in this co-creation process, they are more likely to adopt them as well.
  5. Humility & Authenticity: One of the feedback that the party had received from their customers was that the party became too ambitious too fast and let them down prior to this elections. The leader of the party then publicly apologised for this mistake, at different forums. A politician apologizing to the public for a decision that the party took is unheard of in this nation, at least among the current generation of the voters. This honest apology played an important part in the voters again becoming open to giving the party a second chance to form the government. Also, all the leaders and the volunteers were genuinely interested in solving the local issues. This authenticity is critical. Even in business, there are times when you take decisions that do not go well with your customers. Instead of standing by the decision, it is always a good idea for the business leader to be humble, accept the mistake and show the measures put in place to avoid such decisions in the future. We have seen multiple examples when the leaders of a business respond quickly, decisively and honestly to a business escalation have ended up increasing the trust that their customers place on them.
  6. Work Hard: It is one thing to get on a pedestal and promise a lot of things but a totally different thing to organize and run 900 local community meet-ups and distill the feedback from each of these 900 meetings and come up with what Howard Moskowitz calls the vignettes, the critical pieces that are the deciding factors in the results. This is hard work and as they say, there is no substitute to hard work.
  7. Execute: It is not enough to have great engagement and feedback mechanisms in place but critical to actually execute on the plan. This is what the government will now be measured on The party has raised a lot of expectations by engaging their customers and identifying the critical areas where work needs to be done. Now comes the time when they have to prove to their customers that they will actually be able to execute on their vision and promises. This is what will determine the future of their organization and their ability to come back to power and from a business perspective, allows you to continually grow your organization.

These are just my learnings from the victory. What have you learnt? If you haven’t thought about this yet, please do spend sometime to think and make your own list of things that you have learnt. It is this ability to learn from things that happens to others around us makes us humans, different from all other organisms around the world.


3 Replies to “7 Lessons for CEO’s from Aam Aadmi Party’s Revival in Delhi”

  1. Very importantly, the AAP campaign teaches us to be positive. In spite of being ridiculed by being called various names, AK chose to show the other cheek. In several interviews, he continued to say that he considered Kiran Bedi his elder sister. Even after all the name calling. At the end of the whole thing, the BJP were also left showing the other cheek, but unfortunately, it wasn’t voluntary, and more importantly, it wasn’t even the cheek on the face!

    1. Very well said Nibu. I completely agree with your point. I think all the hard work and the focus that you put in gives you the confidence to do well and hence allows you to be patient and positive..

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