To act as a project leader to manage a large research or engineering project is a dream for many researchers. Traditionally only those with administration power can get the chance to be project leader and it may take him a long time to obtain the funding from governmental agency. In this paper, the author will introduce a karmic management approach for an ordinary researcher how to push forward a large project if he really has the dream. This approach has been practiced by the author in the last six years and reasonably validated.
Keywords: Large project; Karmic Management Approach; Funding; Technology
To act as a project leader to manage a large research or engineering project is a dream for many researchers. In parallel to the “three-storey building” metaphor proposed by Feng  who described a perfect human life is similar as climbing a three-storey building, I propose here a three-stage metaphor for a perfect researcher. Feng’s first floor is the material life represented by money owned, the second floor is the spiritual life represented by the level one reached in science or art and the third floor is the soul life represented by the level one reached in philosophy and religion . My first stage is one’s ability to use a computer to do his own research, the second stage is his ability to use the administration power he obtained to manage a team to finish a large project and the third stage is his ability to use his personality and reputation to manage a team to finish a large project. The karmic management approach presented in this paper is especially addressed to those researchers who wish to reach the third stage.
Basically, the project leader needs to solve two issues, one is to obtain the enough funding and the other is to lead a team to solve all the technical issues. For a large project, the funding required is high and if the project is in the frontier of science and technology, the technical issues are also very challenging. It is a big problem for a potential project leader how to solve these two issues. In this paper, the author will introduce a karmic management approach for an ordinary researcher how to push forward a large project if he really has the dream. This approach has been practiced by the author in the last six years and reasonable success has been achieved.
The characteristics of a large project is its high cost and complex technology. It needs a team of many people to work together. Traditionally, a researcher needs to be promoted to a higher position and then he has the chance to lead a group. The opportunity to be promoted to a higher position is by ability and sometimes by chance. Only few positions are available. The project leader needs to apply for the funding for the large project from governmental agencies. This could take many years to persuade the governmental agency to grant the funding. For example, it took us 10 years from 1992 to 2002 to persuade the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) of Chinese government to sponsor the “Jiaolong” deep manned submersible project and another 10 years to finish the development work of the deep manned submersible .
The governmental funding only covered the submersible but not the mothership. Without a specific mothership, the sea trials and future applications are impossible to be carried out. It took us another 10 years from 2005 to 2015 to obtain the funding for constructing a specific mothership and this ship should be put into service in 2019. In order to carry out the sea trials and initial period of applications, an old ship named “Xiangyanghong 09” was converted to a temporary mothership  and this ship supported the “Jiaolong” dives from 2009 to 2017. This added a lot of difficulties and risks in the sea trials and initial applications. This experience is the main reason to motivate this author to explore other approaches and until one day in 2013, I got the book “Karmic Management” , I thought I have found the method and
decided to put it into practice. That is the main reason why I call
my approach the karmic management approach.
If a researcher has a good idea, he needs the money and his
team to start his project immediately, otherwise, this problem
may be solved by others first. The conventional approach hardly
considers this time factor. In many cases, when the researcher
starts his project after the funding received, the idea is already out
of date. So, the first step of this karmic management approach is to
start your project immediately when you think it is worth doing.
The first thing you need to do is to consider how much resources
you have and then you contribute all of them out. The more the
better. This is the key for the success of this karmic management
approach. This is equivalent to the venture capital fund if someone
needs to start a company or it is a bait if you go on fishing. This
shows your determination and confidence to your project and it is
very important for the future support you receive from the society.
If you cannot persuade your family members to support you, it
means that this new approach is not suitable for you and you can
still use the traditional approach.
The second step is to figure out the project target and estimate
how much money and personnel to be needed for completing it.
This can be done with a system thinking described in the General
Systems Theory (GST) . It is important to have a clear definition
of your project target and scope, then you can make an estimation
how many people and how much money you need to complete the
project within you planned period.
The third step is to cut the funding cake into small pieces and
figure out which piece suits which potential funding resource. You
can seek support from your organization, your local government
and your central government. For some pieces, it may be hard to
be applied from the governmental resources, then you can seek the
support from private sectors. One is the investment and the other
is the donation. In order to get the donation from society, your
own donation is an important indicator. For the investment, what
you need is a cooperation partner since you are not interested in
other things except to finish your project as soon as possible. If
you oversee the company yourself, very soon you may move away
from the original project since other investors’ interest is of a
higher priority than your original project. What they concern is
how much money you make for them rather than whether your
dream has realized. You must be aware of the fact.
The fourth step is to turn your dream into his dream by
applying the Karmic Management theory . Basically, the Karmic
Management theory states that you will achieve success hundred
percent if you strictly follow the eight-step method described in
that reference. This method is also a summary of three authors’
own experience. Please refer to the book for the detailed theory.
From my understanding, the essence is to adapt yourself from a
small Self to a big Self shown in (Figure 1) .
According to this theory, you act as a mother of four children,
one is your colleagues (or co-workers), one is your suppliers,
one is your customers, and the last is the whole world. For you
to successfully complete your project, you need to make them
success. The essence of this approach is to use the power of love to
solve all the problems occurred in the cooperation process. Since
you have made it very clear that the completion of this project will
be more beneficial to your four children, so they will be more care
about the project success than you. This could mostly attract the
support from the four children. As a project leader, you should
never complain anybody or anything since complain does not
solve any problem. Second, you should never have the idea to fire
someone in your group. If you find one of your colleagues could
not finish his duties in time, one simple method is to reduce his
working load and move it to others in the team or recruiting
another person. You can reduce his salary since his task is reduced
based on the principle of justice and equity. If he thinks the salary
is too low in your team and he wants to resign, then you can let
him go. This has a much better effect on other colleagues than you
fire one colleague.
The fifth step is to progress your project like rolling a snowball.
The key sticking force is your personality (karmic force). You start
your project with the support from family members and then you may get supports from friends and then enlarge to friend’s friends.
Using this approach, basically you can obtain whatever resources
you need. So, the key point in this step is your confidence on
success. You should believe that this project will succeed if you do
not give it up. It only depends on you, the project leader, and not
on others. Your confidence and persistence are the main sticking
force to make the snowball larger and larger.
The six step is thanksgiving. You need to appreciate any help
you received from others such as colleagues, customers, suppliers
and the world. Thanksgiving has great karmic force and it is
also a key for the success of this approach. You must do all the
time when you meet the people or speak to the public. In order
to improve the reliability that you fulfil your project within the
planned time period, you may apply the redundancy principle
in both the funding and technical issues. If you think that person
A can finish his work within the time frame is only 80%, then if
you recruit another person B to work on the same problem, if this
person’s success rate is also 80%, then your success rate to solve
that issue will be upgraded to 0.96 (P(AUB)=P(A)+P(B)-P(A)P(B)
if we assume A and B are independent).
So, the procedure of this karmic management approach can be
summarized into six steps:
a. Action immediately;
b. Decomposition by system thinking;
c. To cut the cake into pieces for fund raising;
d. To turn your dream into his dream according to Karmic
e. To roll the snowball based on your own personality;
First, I would like to address where was my dream from. In
2002, I was appointed as the project leader for the development of
7000m deep human occupied vehicle (HOV) “Jiaolong” as shown
in (Figure 2). The previous history in China was only about 300m
and that manned submersible named “7103” was developed by
another team . We could not access the research reports of that
project. At that time our team is very incomplete and lack many
personnel. No one in our team had seen a real HOV before. So
many difficulties were met at the beginning. I recruited many fresh
students to join the team. We invited experts to give lectures to our
team and to assess and make comments to our design. Through
this process, in 2012 we have successfully completed the 7000m
sea trials [2,3] and this project was assessed a great success
by MOST. This experience let me know that actual technology
challenge is not a problem and the personnel is not a problem.
The key to the success of a large project is the management. If
someone trusted me and provided me enough funding, I have the
confidence to finish any large project since I have grasped the key
points in the management process. I urgently need another chance
to examine this point of view.
In 2011 during the 5000m sea trial period of Jiaolong
submersible, I followed a lecture by Dr. Ding Kang who is an ocean
scientist, he told us the importance of hadal science and due to
lack of equipment, Chinese ocean scientists cannot access the
hadal trenches and this field was an empty in China. He appealed
the MOST to sponsor a cruise to use Jiaolong to investigate the
hadal trenches whose depths are from 6000m to 11000m. I was
aware if Chinese ocean scientists really want to do investigation
on hadal trenches, the depth capability of Jiaolong is not adequate and we need to develop immediately the manned/unmanned
submersibles for full ocean depth (FOD).
Secondly, I was aware that the MOST will not start the FOD
submersibles because they have already funded the 4500m
class submersibles (one AUV, one ROV and one HOV). The FOD
submersibles need to be started after we finished the 4500m class
submersibles. I was the project leader of 4500m HOV. It is clear
to me that at least another 5 years are needed to complete the
4500m HOV project.
Thirdly, the main reason we decided the target of 7000m for
Jiaolong was that we wanted to be the No.1 in the world since in
2002 the deepest HOV was Shinkin6500 which is of 6500m depth.
However, in 2012 just before our 7000m sea trials, movie director
James Cameron took his privately built one-man submersible
10,898 m down to the Challenger Deep in the Pacific Ocean’s
Mariana Trench (http:// www. deepseachallenge.com/). There
are several organizations also working on the development of
three-person operational manned submersibles. It was told that
Japan started the consideration to develop Shinkai12000. In the
United States, Taylor and Lawson  presented their research
on the development of the three-person operational FOD HOV
“Deep search” and the Triton company has presented a similar
conceptual design “Triton 36000/3” on their website. So, the
competition was quite intensive then and if we do not act quickly,
we will lose that competition.
However, it was obvious if I stay in my original organization,
I cannot do it immediately since all the team has to do the
development of 4500m HOV. Based on my analysis, if I resign
and recommend one of my colleagues to be the project leader,
he is also capable enough to lead that project. So, I seriously
consider the success rate if I resign from this post and seek the
support of another organization to start the development of FOD
HOV immediately after I finish the Jiaolong project. Based on the
analysis of my own resources I think it is more than 70%. So, I
decided to take the risk to do it.
The first step was to seek the support from my family. I was
fully aware that my wife will be strongly against this “crazy” idea
since in my previous research center, I was the deputy director and
I oversaw the deepsea research field. After the success of Jiaolong
project, this field will be full of projects and I do not need to worry
about anything. I will have a lot of honors due to my contribution
to the Jiaolong project. So, I started to seek the support from my
son who was a 15 years old boy. One night just before I was on
board the ship to do the 7000m sea trials for Jiaolong, I had a
serious talk to my son. I told him after the success of the 7000m
sea trials of Jiaolong, I had two options, one is to stay in the original
organization to oversee the development of 4500m HOV and the
other is to seek the support from another organization to do the
11000m HOV. I know your mum will be against my second option,if you are against it, I will give it up. After a while of thinking, my
son told me he will support me if I do not do any bad things to the
society. With his support, I know I can choose the second option
now since I have two votes against one.
I drafted my resignation report during the period of 7000m
sea trials and submitted immediately after we finished the sea
trials. After the resignation of the deputy director was approved,
I contacted four potential universities and finally decided to join
Shanghai Ocean University (SHOU) to set up a new research center
called Hadal Science and Technology Research Center (HAST) with
a focus on the development of a movable laboratory for hadal
The second step is to figure out the project target and estimate
how much money and personnel to be needed for completing it.
Although my actual interest is the development of FOD HOV, and
this is NO. 1 stuff in the world. However, for the use by scientists, it
should be a complete system.
deciding whether Jiaolong should carry out manned sea trials,
some administrative officers in charge of the Jiaolong project
were against it because there were no rescue facilities in China at
that time. So, an unmanned submersible was required before the
manned submersible. Both manned and unmanned submersibles
cannot work very long time on the bottom of the ocean, but landers
can be left on the bottom for longer periods. For all those facilities
to work, a dedicated mothership is necessary. Thus, although our
initial target was to develop a FOD HOV, the final design of the
new project ultimately included three landers (light-, mediumand
heavy- payload), one FOD unmanned submersible (hybrid
autonomous and remotely operated vehicle (ARV), one FOD HOV
and a dedicated mothership of 4800-ton displacement. I call the
whole system as a movable laboratory for hadal trenches (Figure
3). The basic rationale and concepts for the comprehensive
investigation system and the preliminary designs of FOD landers,
ARV and HOV have been described in Cui et al. .
The benefits of the movable laboratory can be summarized
as follows. As is well-known, the highest cost for the use of
submersibles is the ship time. The movable laboratory can
produce an optimal economic performance because researchers
can carry out an ocean survey with the mothership no matter day
or night. When the movable laboratory arrives to a new area, the
ARV will carry out a wide area exploration first to determine the
focused research area and the basic marine parameters of the
area. Then three baited landers will be deployed to collect fish and
other fauna samples, to take water and sediment samples or to
capture pictures via video cameras.
Finally, the HOV will be sent down to complete the fine and
complex operations and sampling using manipulators. During
the day, the landers, ARV and HOV can work collaboratively.
At night, the landers and ARV can still be used for the sea floor
survey. From the technical development point of view, this can
greatly reduce the risk of HOV development and application. This
is due to the following two factors. (1) Both landers and the ARV
can be regarded as the test platforms for some key technologies
of the HOV except for their independent functions since most of
the equipment used in landers and the ARV are used in the HOV.
(2) During the sea trials and its future applications of the HOV,
the ARV can be used as a rescue means or a test recording means
which can video the navigational and operational performances of
the HOV near the sea bottom.
I planned to spend 10 years (2013-2023) just before my
retirement to finish the project. The concept is very attractive, but
it needs a lot of money. So now I come to the third step. I cut the
funding cake into small pieces as shown in (Figure 4) and figure
out which piece suits which potential funding resource. There are
six things I need to do to finish the project. The first is to recruit
the team members. I am fully aware that with the university
salary level of SHOU, I cannot recruit the personnel I need. So, I persuaded my son and my wife first to take out all our saving in the
past which is 2 M RMB, then I wrote to one of my classmates who
was a millionaire to ask whether he could make some donation
and he promised to donate the same amount as me. Then I speak
to my sister who also owned a small company and she promised
to donate 1 M. My two brothers also made some donations based
on their economic conditions.
So, before I formally joined SHOU, I have already got more than
5 M RMB which is enough for me to apply for a formal foundation
and can support my team for a couple of years as a supplement of
extra salary. With this condition, I only spent about two months
to finish the recruit with initial 10 members. Our team started
the design of the 11000m HOV. After another two months we
have finished the preliminary conceptual design of the HOV and
identified all the key technologies we need to solve in order to
develop the FOD HOV. Then I broke the team into two, one is to
develop three FOD landers and the other is to develop FOD ARV.
SHOU together with the local government provided the funding to
buy the equipment. After that I started to seek the funding for the
mothership. Here I applied the Karmic Management theory .
Instead of asking someone for help, I published an article in
September 18, 2013 in Wenhui Daily and said if someone has the
ship, I can give him my three landers and one ARV. Many private
businessmen came to me to inquire what is the condition to
have my landers and ARV. After I contacted them and discussed
with them, one businessman (Mr. L) realized what I need is a
new ship and no existing ship can meet my requirement for the
HOV operation. He could make the investment if I can persuade
the university president to pay 30%. I spoke to the university
president and he told me that the University do not have such
an amount of money. Then I went for another friend (Mr. W) to
ask him for cooperation. Mr. W did his Ph.D. with me in the same
group in University of Bristol at the same time and after that he
worked in foreign companies while I worked in research institute.
He owned a small company at that time.
The challenging question I asked him is whether he has earned
enough money to support his family after twenty year’s hard
work. He was certainly yes as far as I knew. So, I asked him the
second question whether he could cooperate with me for another
ten years and if we finish the project I figured out, we could be
national heroes since I received a title of this from the Jiaolong’s
project. He was very interested to this venture and got full support
from his family. So, he registered the Shanghai Rainbowfish Ocean
Technology Co. Ltd (ROFT) and signed a strategic cooperation
agreement with SHOU to jointly develop the movable laboratory.
I know he himself do not have such an amount of money for the
mothership. I just asked him to sign the contract with the main
investor, Mr. L. L paid 70% and we paid the 30%. After we signed
the contract, then we divided our amount of 30% into 10 pieces,
we ask 10 friends of ours to buy our share, so through that
method, we spent about 4 months to get enough funding and Mr.
L was responsible for the design and construction of the specific
mothership. The specific mothership named “Zhang Jian” shown
in (Figure 5) was put into service in July 2016. The lucky enough
thing is that another institute can supply all the ship equipment
with a later payment, so we used the saved money to build
another small research vessel “Shen Kuo” shown in (Figure 6).
Mr L registered another company to operate these two research
As my design team’s work is going, the next task is to have a
building for the assembly. If using the traditional approach, many
years may be needed to get funding for constructing a specific
building in the campus. Furthermore, due to the move of the
campus, SHOU owed bank a big loan and the university was not
allowed to construct any new buildings before they paid back the
loan. So, I turned my eyesight to the local government. In order
to attract the investment, many local governments can build the workshop and rend it to the enterprise. The Lingang High-tech
Park was just on the design stage when I promised to join them,
they were willing to make a specific design for my workshop.
The building named “Shutong Building” shown in (Figure 7) was
handed to us for use in January 2016.
The FOD HOV is left for support from MOST. We finished the
prototype of a FOD lander and ARV in September and had a 4000m
class sea trials in October 2015. This success and fast speed showed
by this novel approach won some support from Department of
Science and Technology of Shanghai Municipal government. They
sponsored two projects to let our team to continue the work. In
December 2016 to Feb 2017, we finished three landers and ARV
and had another cruise to the Marina trench for 11000m sea
trials and New Britain trench for scientific investigation. Three
landers have successfully reached the Challenger Deep while ARV met some problem and stopped in 6300m. (Figure 8) showed the
first phase of the movable laboratory finished in Dec 2016. The
main reason why ARV did not reach the Challenger Deep was not
due to the technical difficulty but the worldview and the trust
between persons. For my team to focus on the research I gave up
my potential share in Rainbowfish company and I also did not
allow my team members to own any share from the Rainbowfish
company. This is certainly different from governmental policy. As
ROFT developed very quickly under the leadership of Mr. W, the
project leader for ARV felt unhappy and he thought I might play a
deceit to our team members with Mr. W.
Another thing was that although my initial intention was to
have my previous organization in cooperation with SHOU to
speed up the development process of the FOD HOV. However,
my resignation made the leadership unhappy and we became
the competitors afterwards. In 2016 March, MOST had really
sponsored the FOD HOV project and my team lost the competition
to my previous organization. This made quite some of my team
members losing the confidence to continue the development of
With these two factors, after the success of 4000m sea trials,
the ARV project leader spent some time secretly to cooperate
with another person to start their own company. Since he spent
quite some time in his private business, and this also affected the
other members. So, the laboratory tests in 2016 for ARV were
inadequate for the 11000m sea trials and this led directly to the
failure. After the cruise, he was left the team due to the difference
in the worldview.
Due to the loss of the competition, Shanghai Municipal
government also stopped their support after 2017. It was very
easy for me to stop the project. After discussing with the leaders
of SHOU and Mr. W of ROFT, we decided to continue the project
by applying the principle of rolling a snowball. We can seek
the support from other local governments such as neibouring
Zhejiang Province or Shenzhen. In order to attract their attention,
we need to speak an even bigger story. So, since March 2017, I let
my team working on the design of FOD HOV while Mr. W and me
were contacting other potential funding resources with the new
target of one practical 11000m ARV, a 6000m HOV, a 11000m HOV
and several tourist submersibles.
Since January 2018, we let our original team in HAST working
on the 11000m ARV project, formed another team within ROFT
to carry out the design of 6000m HOV and we also successfully
persuaded Mr. C to join the ROFT in charge of the capital operation
and preparing RFOT for share market. Mr. W successfully expanded
his company to Zhoushan, Zhejiang province. I was successfully
persuaded Westlake University to support this project. So now
our current plan is to finish the development of 11000m ARV
and 6000m HOV in 2020 and 11000m HOV in 2023. Under the
background of Yangtze River Delta Integration, we can apply for
funding both from Shanghai municipal government and Zhejiang
provincial government, RFOT has a much better condition to
attract the private investment compared with its initial period, I
am very confident that we can fulfil our target. Of course, during
the management process, I also applied the thanksgiving principle to increase the karmic power and the redundancy principle to
improve the reliability. However, the redundancy level will also
depend on the funding you obtained. So, through this approach,
you will find that all the difficulties of a large project will be
reduced to just one problem, the funding issue.
More importantly, what I have found through my practice is
that the actual cost for this project using this approach is just 1/3
~ 1/2 of the traditional approach fully sponsored by governments.
The ratio of self-donation to total donation we received is about
1/4, and the ratio of governmental support funding to private
investment funding is also about 1/4. So, through this approach,
it can save a lot of governmental expenditure for the same project
target. Although due to my personal limitation which cannot win
the full trust from my team members and some problems occurred
in the past six years, through this practice, it is basically proved
from positive and negative sides that the Karmic Management
theory  is correct. This theory can help many people to realize
In this paper, a novel approach based on the Karmic
Management theory to push forward a large project based on
individual’s resource is introduced. This approach has been
partially practiced by the author in the past six years and it is
validated from both positive and negative sides. The author
strongly believe that this approach can help many people to
realize their dreams.
This work was supported by the State Key Program of
National Natural Science of China “Structural Reliability Analysis
on the Spherical Hull of Deepsea Manned Submersibles” (Grant
No. 51439004), the “Construction of a Leading Innovation Team”
project by the Hangzhou Municipal government, the Startup
funding of New-joined PI of Westlake University with grant
number (041030150118). The project was received support from
many sources and friends in the past six years. I am particularly
grateful to my cooperation partner, Dr. Xin Wu, Mr. Yunjun Lu and
Mr. Weibing Cao for their persistence to go ahead with me. Ms.
Jinyu Sha helped me to draw and (Figures 1 & 4), her help is also