Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Art of War for Project Managers

Chapter 1 - Analysis

"This is war.
It is the most important skill in the nation.
It is the basis of life and death.
It is the philosophy of survival or destruction.
You must know it well." *

In Sun Tzu's world, war was a heavy thing. Brutal, costly, painful and only to be taken on when it was absolutely necessary.

And when it was necessary, the only way to set yourself up for success was to become a student of the thing you were about to spend people's lives on.

For those of us who manage IT Projects, this may seem a bit over the top if you try to apply it to your work, but when you come right down to it, it isn't that far off.

Each project we take on levies a heavy toll on us and the places we work. We burn money, people, reputations, good will and more often than not, our life outside of work.

We've all worked with the people who create projects just to seem busy, or create giant catastrophes just to save the day. More often than not, these people get sorted in the end, but the thing to keep in mind for each of us is, if you are going to take on a project, and burn through all those things that could be used on something else the company needs to stay afloat, or the time you need outside of work to be with your family, make sure you understand why you are doing it, what you are going to do, how you are going to succeed, and most of all, what you are going to do when you realize you got the first three questions wrong.

* The translation above is from Gary Gagliardi's book "Sun Tzu's The Art of War Plus Its Amazing Secrets". Of all the translations I own, there are only two that are so worn the pages are falling out. This is one of them.

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