Batman is one of the comic world’s best fighters, but not because of his muscles or his gadgets. His best asset is his mind: he has plans, and plans within plans, and plans that happen on the fly. If there’s anything a project manager can learn from the Dark Knight, it’s how to think ahead.
Knowledge is Power
In a world of super-powered beings, Batman succeeds because he knows more than anyone else, about everyone else. He knows the strengths and weaknesses of nearly every person he’s ever encountered, and is such a polymath that it’s easier to keep track of what he doesn’t know.
While you’re not going to encounter any super-villains at work (except for horrible bosses), you can still plan the Batman way by being intimately familiar with your industry, your team members, and your clients and stakeholders. Avoid nasty surprises by using project management tools to stay informed on project progress.
Plan Past Your Limitations
Under that cape and cowl, Batman is just a rich boy with daddy issues. And yet he beats super-strong 500-pound gorillas on a regular basis. Why? Because he works past his physical limitations.
Don’t charge into a project when you know you don’t have the resources to handle it. Instead, think outside the box and find ways to compensate. Borrow from another team. Take a class. Or even get some outside help.
Make Backup Plans
For every plan Batman uses, he’s got 5 more just in case. He’s able to adapt to any situation because he’s already planned for the worst-case scenario, and worked his way up from there.
When creating your project plan, don’t rely on the best-case scenario. Any project manager worth his salt can tell you that most projects don’t stick to the original schedule. Plan for project delays, manpower shortages, bugs, and client resistance, and you’ll be better prepared when these things actually happen.
The Dark Knight never takes his eyes off the prize, whether it’s beating down a super villain or rescuing a damsel in distress. Everything he does moves him closer to the goal, even if it’s not immediately obvious.
Project managers should be the same way. You shouldn’t get so involved in the details that you lose sight of the big picture. Critical path is a great way to keep focused, and maximize your team’s effort to getting the project done as fast and efficiently as possible.
But perhaps one of the biggest reasons Batman has lived through so many fights is because he never gets complacent. He never stops learning, never stops improving. He doesn’t know the meaning of the word “enough”, and neither should you.
Image credit: Flickr, Anirudh Koul