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May 2007

Full Contact Project Management
project management

The Ultimate Team Sport:
Project Management!

All across the United States, some of the thousands who read "Full Contact Project Management" are convinced that Coach has finally gone off the deep end! They're saying, "Coach, I may not know everything I need to know yet about being a project manager, but one thing is for sure: it isn't a team sport!"

But most of you know me all too well, and you recognize the trap I've set. You're almost expecting me to say it, and so I will. Here it goes: "Okay, team, huddle up, shut up, and listen up!" You smile, because you know that this is for the benefit of the rookies. You're right, but it's also for you! Depending on where you are in your PM career, this chalk talk is either going to be new material, or a refresher course. Let me tell you how I started thinking about this message in the first place.

As I was reading the sports page one morning, a PM message jumped out at me: all this talk about spring training. Spring training? Yep! As I write this column, baseball is just coming to a close, and as you pick up the magazine and read it, football's version will have wrapped up. So let's look at pre-season training and see if there are any parallels to the Full Contact mentality.

What gets emphasized when the team comes together? I've got my list; let's compare it to yours. Here we go...

Conditioning
You have to be in shape. Practices are tough, and you have to get tougher. You can't run out of gas. Are you practicing? You can't disappoint your team.

Diet
What are you eating? In other words, what are you feeding yourself — and your mind? Same old stuff?

Goals
Are you believing in yourself, your team and your ability to win, or are you expecting to be about the same as last season? As the PM, you also have to be the team leader. Your team gets its goals from you. Same old goals? Not if you want your team to also believe in you.

Study Habits
You're learning new plays. Are you hitting the books? When is the last time you bought a good one and actually read it? Are you seeking out not only strength and conditioning coaches, but also mentors and tutors who can cut your learning curve? Is your team going to be content with having you take years and years until you begin to "get it"? Or, can you take some crash courses right now and help out right now?

Last month I talked about the importance of being a "starter" on your team. Starters do all of these things.

So what's a typical day like at training camp? I'm going to throw a bunch of things at you right now, but feel free to add your own ideas as well. In addition to conditioning, diet, goals and study habits, here is what Coach's Full Contact PM team will be doing.

Practice the Fundamentals
You know, there are some basic things that you can't take for granted that everyone knows, or remembers, and you have to work on them until they get into your "muscle memory." It's a reaction: your opponent zigs this way, you zag that way. Instantly! You don't have to think. You anticipate, react and launch.

Build a Great Defense
This is our cornerstone. If they can't score on you, then the worst you can possibly do is to end with a tie game. Score just a little, and you've won the game! This is profound, so don't miss it.

Establish the Run
Back in the very early days of college football, the run was the game. The mentality was this: three yards and a cloud of dust on each play — hard-nosed ball. Every time you lined up, you moved toward your goal. And you kept moving. Two college teams back then got the nicknames of the "Thundering Herd" and the "Four Horsemen" because they established the run. They could run on any team, at any time, and every team knew they could. Better yet, every team respected them for it.

Set Up the Pass
The real beauty of establishing the run (or the bunt, etc.) is that it sucks in the defense — it allows your power players to then swoop in and do their thing. Because you can execute the run, their defense has to play up, which in turn allows you to go downfield without a lot of double coverage. Or it allows a decent hitter to get his pitch, because the other team is panicking about some hit and run ball that they know you can play, simply because you can execute.

Score Early and Often
Every time you touch the ball, you believe that you can score. A little here, a little there, and pretty soon your lead is sizable.

Start to Finish
Your team plays at 100 percent, 100 percent of the time. That's the expectation and that's where you want to be. You and your team are playing both sides of the ball and you never let up. You play hard-nosed ball the entire game — and for the entire project.

Black Shoes — No Names
One of the beauties of Penn State football is a winning tradition, while wearing some of the ugliest uniforms out there! They wear black shoes with no logos and jerseys without names on the back — the same goes for the stars on the team. And there's only one name on the back of the jersey: the team's. It's a team thing. Funny, I don't especially care for the team, but I sure do like their style, their work ethic and their tradition.

And this is why project management is also a team sport. I'm guessing that you can see it now. You have the title of project manager. You wear the mantle of "leader." You believe in yourself, your mission and your people. And the feeling is likewise. You've learned that persistence overcomes resistance. Your team (i.e., your company) knows that they can count on you to get in there and fight for them, and that just having you on the field always gives your team a shot at a win. It could be a game pass for a touchdown on the first play, or a bottom of the ninth suicide squeeze.

You demand excellence from your team on the field — your clients expect it. You make sure that nobody drops the ball — your company expects that. You deliver on time — your client counts on that. Finally, for all that I've mentioned and more, your reputation rides on it.


Coach Gary's Playbook:

Ready for spring training? Go to www.fullcontactpm.com, click on the archives, and see the helps available to you for free. Also, you can get Coach Gary's book there.






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