Project management lessons from the world of weight lifting

IMG_0112If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you!

At first glance, you might feel the discipline of project management and weight lifting are worlds apart. After reading this article (between sets, of course!), hopefully you feel otherwise.

Don’t neglect your warm up

If you have ever pulled a muscle by exerting yourself because you didn’t take the time to first stretch and warm up, you know how important the right amount of preparation can be. In projects, while you might be under tremendous pressure to deliver, taking sufficient time to plan ensurse that your project doesn’t get shelved for the season because of a cold start.

Don’t ignore post-workout recovery

Whether it’s a massage, a hot shower, or a protein shake, how you end your workout is critical to ensuring you are ready for the next one. Mature organizations build buffer time between projects to allow project managers and team members the opportunity to recuperate from the stresses of their previous project by taking vacation days, going on a course or other forms of self-investment.

Work(out) with integrity

Most gyms have basic rules of behavior posted – wipe down machines after you are done, replace your weights, no swearing, don’t drop the weights and so on. While each person exercising has their own workout routine, there is an expectation of treating each other with respect. It can be easy to become antagonistic with team members, other project managers, or with functional managers as a result of challenging constraints on your projects or the chronic imbalance between resource supply and demand. Just don’t forget the golden rule.

Cutting corners rarely pays

While steroid abuse has dropped in most mainstream gyms through zero tolerance policies, you still see the occasional meathead who tries to take the easy way to gaining mass & strength. Project managers often face similar temptations to meet tight deadlines. However, just as with steroid usage, breaking corporate policies or taking on excessive risk for your organization may lead to personal and project failure.

There’s lots of misinformation out there

Do an online search for “gain muscle” or “lose weight” and you’ll be inundated with hundreds of links. There may even be some validity to some of the information available on these sites, but it’s hard to know what’s real and what’s snake oil. Do a search for “avoid project failure” and you’ll get a similar number of hits (hopefully, my site is one of those!). Having a peer network of senior practitioners to lean on can be as effective as a personal trainer to help you achieve your objectives.

Good time management pays

Time plays a critical role in workouts. Rest time between sets, the length of each set, the amount of time spent on warm-up and cool-down activities, and the overall duration of your workout will all affect the quality of the outcomes. Whether it’s time spent in meetings, managing your calendar instead of letting it manage you, or spending the minimal required time on tactical activities such as e-mail processing, it’s difficult to be an effective project manager if you find it challenging to manage your own time.

Your workouts are important meetings you schedule with yourself. Leaders don’t cancel!





Categories: Facilitating Organization Change, Project Management | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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