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Project Management Is Like Winning the Super Bowl

Did you enjoy watching the Super Bowl as much as I did? Besides Beyonce′s meh performance and  Baltimore winning, I thought it was super exciting. But, what was even more exciting than the game was the revolutionary (to put it humbly) correlation I made during the blackout. What is this revolutionary correlation you ask? Well, think about it: a  good football coach is like a good project manager. No really, I′m serious. You and John Harbaugh have more in common than you might think.

Besides giving inspirational pep-talks to your  team in times of crisis  and having a penchant for baseball caps (just kidding, PM′s are always  well-dressed),  project management success follows the same model as winning the Super Bowl.

Effective project management, and great football coaching, relies on closely following these five steps from the classic project management model:

1. Initiation

In the initiation stage, you must understand the nature and scope of your undertaking.

In football you take a good look at your team, the competition, and the projected rankings. You review last year′s tapes, player injury reports and the league budget to draw up measurable goals for the season.

Sound familiar? Project management is the same deal. After researching the scope and environment of your project, you review current operations (including a budget and stakeholder analysis), and draw up some SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) goals.

2. Planning and Design

Famous University of Alabama coach Bear Bryant once said:

“Have a plan for everything. A plan for practice, a plan for  the game. A plan for being ahead, and a plan for being behind  20-0 at half with your quarterback hurt and the phones dead” ¦” 

All important undertakings need a well-developed plan. You can′t wing an IT software release any more than you can wing a Super Bowl win. It′s important to create a  timeline, make a schedule, and form a winning  team lineup.

3. Execution

After all the planning and research, finally comes game day. But, as in football, the success of a project does not hinge on one day of performance. Project management and the NFL are both season endeavors.

Sure, some days are more crucial than others. But it is important to keep the  deliverables  coming and the outputs high at all times during your undertaking.

4. Monitoring and Controlling

Research and planning never stops in football or project management. During the course of your season, be sure to be aware of your baselines: know your standing, where you want to go, and how you can get there.

5. Completion

Finally we are all done. Now is time for us project managers and football coaches to tie up loose ends, ice our thighs, and  go to the bar to celebrate.

Hope you all enjoyed the game, and good luck to all you project managers on your respective projects this year. May you have the same success as Joe Flacco.

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