Jon Aikman's Blog Thoughts on Mediation and Project Management
  • The Man in the Plan

    Napoleon Bonaparte, self-crowned Emperor of Europe, military strategist, would-be invader of England and…. Project Manager?

    On starting a new campaign his thoughts were: ”The first principal of a Commander-in-Chief is to calculate what he must do, to see if he has the means to surmount the obstacles with which the enemy can oppose him and when he has made his decision, to do everything to overcome them” If  ‘Commander in Chief’ means ‘Project Manager’, ‘enemy’ means ‘unexpected’ and ‘he’ means ‘he/she’, this is a good description of what a project manager has to do.

    As well as identifying objectives, making realistic estimates of resources required, time durations and anticipating what could go wrong, Napoleon’s skill was to react and adapt to situations as they arose. He considered a plan to be important but more important was the “Man in the Plan”. Estimates of time and resources can be inaccurate, things happen that can’t be foreseen, other people don’t do what you expect or hope they will do. Very soon a plan doesn’t fit with what is really happening.

    At what point do you need to make adjustments to the plan, re-write the plan, re-assess the objective or just carry on trying to make the plan work? That is where the “Man in the Plan” becomes important. The Project Manager that can make the right decision at the right time, consider views from the project team, re-plan, communicate the plan and inspire and motivate the Project Team to overcome difficulties would meet with the General’s approval.

    Of course being Emperor of Europe also needed certain personal qualities that most of us can only hope to have so many of - attention to detail as well as the larger picture, ability to concentrate for long periods, lack of need to sleep, passion for a task, ability to quickly judge strengths and weaknesses in others and the quality of inspiring total loyality and devotion to him and his endeavors. I’d be happy to have half of his qualities as a Project Manager!

    Published on June 4, 2012 · Filed under: Project Management;
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