Full Contact Project Management
Facing Your Project Management ‘Giants’
Everyone has a favorite sports movie, which is great, because these movies make such great teaching tools. Not every good movie is applicable to what we do as project managers, but almost every sports movie is.
Sports movies are all about teams, team building, and coming together to pursue a big dream. A movie you just have to watch is one you have probably never heard of, “Facing the Giants,” which is small on film-making budget, but huge on heart. You may never see it on TV, although more than 1 million people saw it in the theaters, but you can buy it online by doing a quick search for it. It’s so good; I guarantee you’ll like it.
In summary, the football team of a small, private school has just experienced six losing seasons. And as summer practice begins for the new season, news hits the team that their best athlete has had enough and transferred to another school, where he hopes to play for a winner. The coach is disappointed, the team is devastated, school morale has disappeared, and the boosters, well, let’s just say that they are demanding a little bit more from the coach: his job.
Do you see any similarity to what you have come across in your own career? Probably so. The best journeymen and the best crews want to work on the most prestigious projects, and for the best (winning) companies. It’s human nature.
So, the head coach has to look deep inside and come up with a new game plan, which he will challenge his entire team to buy into. And it’s basically this: The football team is about much more than playing ball. It’s all about the effort given and the integrity shown. It’s about the ability to reach down deep and come up with that winning effort. And, leave everything on the field; there are no excuses that way.
It’s all about leadership. You have to lead. Your foreman has to expect more and demand the best, so that your team can put a product on the field that gets there before the clock runs out, and without many penalties. Your product and service should have raving fans who just can’t get enough of you. They believe that your work will stand the test of time, because it wasn’t just hastily thrown together, barely good enough to pass inspection. It’s a prime example of what good craftspeople can do together, when they are a team.
As a company owner, project manager, superintendent, foreman or aspiring apprentice, you must give excellence and expect it of your people, even when things aren’t going well. That’s what leadership is all about. Anybody can lead a parade with thousands of cheering fans lining the way, but that’s not leadership.
We live in a country that has experienced and benefitted from real leadership for more than 200 years. That’s our heritage, and we can thank both statesmen and military for those blessings. We are privileged to be part of an industry that has built and rebuilt cities, either from scratch or because of disaster, from skyscrapers hit by aircraft to freeway bridges struck by earthquakes. It’s in our blood. When you commit to a contract, and you know up front, for example, that a school district is relying upon you, as part of a team, to get their school open on time, you should take that as a compliment, and take it seriously. Find a way to make it happen.
Sometimes the obstacles are huge. You do see giants, but you face them, as we always have. When you have giants in front of you, make sure you leave everything out on the field. No excuses.