Project Management 101: Superheroes and Key Project Resources
Tackling a big project is just like fighting a super-villain. You need to assemble the right sort of team to deal get the job done. And it can’t be just anyone, either. Key project resources are people you absolutely need in order to ensure the success of your project. If these key resources were superheroes, they’d be represented by:
Batman: The Planner
Batman is preparedness personified. He makes so many plans and backup plans that any Gantt chart he makes would look like a spiderweb. And he makes those plans because he knows that anything can happen–and it usually does. Thankfully, your projects don’t involve fighting the Joker in a dark alley. But the same principles apply:
- You need someone with a fine eye for detail. Batman’s a detective. He knows that the little things are just as important as the bigger issues.
- You also need a planner that is aware of the big picture, how the project fits into that larger plan, and keeps it aligned with that larger goal. This may be the same person as the previous example, or someone in an entirely different role (like the primary sponsor).
- It helps if this planner is familiar with the capabilities of his team. One reason Batman’s such an excellent strategist is he knows the strengths and weaknesses of everyone involved–including his enemies. In a project management setting, a planner with this skill keeps plans and estimates as realistic as possible.
Examples of the in-office Batman: You, the Project Manager
Superman: The Doer
Speaking of execution, you need someone you can rely on to get the job done. You don’t need someone to fight an alien or fly around the world like the Man of Steel, but you do need someone with many of the same characteristics:
- You also need a doer who is highly motivated. Writing code may not be saving the planet, but your resource still has to be committed to your project’s success.
- Attitude counts for a lot. Superman is much more powerful than Batman, yet he’s still willing to take orders from The Dark Knight because he knows Batman has a gift for planning.
Example of the real-life Superman: Project Coordinator
Captain America: The Leader
Even a team of superheroes needs someone to lead them towards a common goal, and that’s where resources like Captain America come in. Let’s face it: even the most close-knit teams have to deal with politics and internal conflict. But if they have a strong and effective authority figure who can motivate, mentor, and lead, then the team becomes much more than the sum of its parts. You need leaders who can:
- Bring people with multiple skills, backgrounds, and personalities together in a positive and encouraging environment. It’s more than just Captain America’s experience that makes him a leader of heroes. It’s his charisma.
- Develop the skills and careers of individual team members. This increases both their worth to the team and their own self-esteem.
- Manage up. A good leader represents his team to the higher-ups and puts them in the best possible light, just like how Captain America defends the Avengers to the government.
Example of Captain America: Senior Consultant or Supplier Side Project Manager
But why do you need all three? Can’t you settle for just two or even one?
Unfortunately, that’s not likely to work for very long. If you run a team without competent doers, then even the finest plan in the world will be executed with very poor quality. If you run without a planner, then even motivated and talented teams will run in haphazard paths and created a disorganized final product–if they even finish at all. And a team without a strong leader is going to be unmotivated, stagnant, and fragmented.
And they don’t have to be separate people, though. I’ve met quite a few teammates, on both the project manager and resource side, who embody the traits of two or even all three of the examples above. So don’t feel like you have to hire more people than you can afford.
So go forth! Assemble your super-team, and soon you’ll be conquering projects with the same style and flair as your costumed counterparts.