August 2009: Full Contact Project Management


August 2009

Full Contact Project Management

Masonry Magazine

project management

Is Your Defense Plugging the Holes?

Football fever is already in the air! Kids are out of school for summer vacation, and I just spent the last weekend watching dozens of club teams compete for national championships. Camps are ending and pre-season games are upon us. Yes, it’s time for some football!

An interesting project management lesson was taught—and learned—by the players I was watching during the summer: No teams lost games when preventing their opponents from scoring! Said simply, defense wins game.

How do we build a championship through defense? The name of the game is field position and exploiting the defense, when and if you can. The offense’s job is to create holes in the defense, so the runner can get through without being tackled. The defense’s job is to plug those holes. They use a swarming defense. They know that if they can’t be scored on, they can’t lose. This is how teams with mediocre offenses can still have a winning season. This should be your starting position.

What if your offense isn’t so great? For example, even when there’s not as much business around as before, how do great construction teams still win? Believe it or not, the answer is the same as that of a successful football team: great defense. Remember, if they can’t score on you, they can’t win.

Let’s look at the practical lesson here for us. Say you take on a really tight job with no fluff and no contingencies in there. You just bid this one to get this one, because you really, really, really needed the work. Ever been there? I have. You figure if the job goes well, you’ll cover your costs, pay your people and suppliers, stay in business, and continue to look for other work on other days. Well, you can do this a time or two, as long as you don’t give away any freebies, because you have nothing in the budget to allow that. But you had better plug those holes. Shore up your defense, if you want to win this game and come back for another season.

Are you feeling guilty about having to field such a tough defense? Lots of contractors are. They love being seen as easy to work with and agreeable. Those things are nice, and it’s great to work that way during normal times. But we’re a long way from normal these days, don’t you agree?

Building your team
These times call for getting some outside perspective from people who have been there before: people who know where they are going, and can show you how to get there, too.

Coach Gary says:

“You don’t need to have the best offense. Just keep the other team from gaining any yardage.”

Almost everyone needs a coach. I actually have a few of them, each with a specialty. If you really want to be successful at project management and leadership, see the offer for Masonry readers at my If your company needs better players, you should check in with your local masonry contractors association, and with the MCAA. Maybe you need to find a trusted supplier or two who can give you the inside scoop on materials or equipment. You can find some of them right in this magazine.

Some project owners are seeing this economy as a great opportunity to build at lower costs. How? They are relying upon you to be a better “team player” and do some things for free by just “throwing them in” to the deal. In other words, they intend to try and exploit your defense! They’re looking for holes in the D-line. They want to shoot the gaps in your defensive scheme.

Team, it’s time to put your first-string defense out on the field. And maybe it’s now time to draft a couple of free agents. Get some coaching. Get some help. Get going!

Coach Gary’s Corner:

Preserve your freedom! Get the free report you need for your own business. Go to, and click on the link near the top of the page. The best athletes and their teams use coaches. How about you? You need a process. How about one that’s pretty darned simple, but extremely effective? Masonry readers get this report for free! You also can get Coach Gary’s book “Get Paid for a Change,” and his new CD, “How to Become the Leader Your Team Needs.” Go there now.

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