Full Contact Project Management
Olympic construction lessons from the most famous bobsled team not at the game
Coach Gary’s latest example of an unlikely way to learn about construction project management is from the 1994 movie “Cool Runnings.” Remember that one? It starred John Candy as the coach of a bunch of sprinters who wanted to compete in the bobsled event at the 1988 Olympics. The lessons taught from the movie just might change your professional life.
So, the story goes this way: Some Jamaican sprinters get the crazy notion that they could actually field a bobsled team and compete in the Olympics. At least, that’s the dream. What about the reality?
Do they have the skills they need? Do they have a sled? Do they have any money for training? A coach? Heck, do they even have any snow? The answer is a resounding “no,” which is why this is such a great story for us. I mean, how crazy is the notion that this team could ever pull this off?
Before I finish the story, let me give you the parallel. Let me set the scene by asking you to imagine that you are brand new to the whole idea of being a PM. You just got out of school, you just changed careers, or a host of other possibilities in which you don’t even know the difference between a brick and a block. You just have one obvious asset, which is the brain that God gave you, and the ability to think with it. Our Jamaican sprinters had speed as their asset. You’ve got a mind.
The Jamaicans found a way to overcome all of their obstacles. They qualified for the 1988 Olympics, finished last, but made a huge impact on the entire sports world. In 1992 they also finished poorly; in 1994 they finished 14th, which was ahead of both U.S. teams, and at least one sled each from France, Russia and Italy! They believed in themselves, their team, their coach, and their dream. How about you?
You’ve got as good a start as they have. You have that great mind, and a desire to achieve. (If you don’t have the desire to compete and to win, then project management is not for you.) But if you get some good tools, some good coaching, and begin assembling a good field team, then your dream of success for yourself and your company is at hand.
Believe that you can get there. Strive for nothing less than the gold medal. You and your team belong on the podium. But do more than just dream: It’s up to you to get the tools, the coaching, the team and the medals.
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