The Art of Project Management - Chapter One

Having recently read Sun Tzu's 'Art of War' I saw many similarities between war and managing projects. Call the enemies risk and chaos and most of the 2,500 year old advice applies quite well. So I am going to dedicate a few posts to what I humbly call: 'The Art of Project Management.' I give Sun Tzu full credit for his observations. I simply paraphrase him to shift the advice to my field.


Chapter One

Laying Plans

 1. Sun Tzu said: The Art of Project Management is of vital importance to the company.

2. It is a matter of survival or bankruptcy, a road either to success or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.

3. The Art of Project Management, then, is governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account in one's deliberations, when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field.

4. These are (1) The Moral law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth; (4) The Project Manager; (5) Method and Discipline.

5,6. The Moral Law causes the Project Team to be in complete accord with the senior staff, so that they will follow them regardless of their careers, undismayed by any danger.

7. Heaven signifies night and day shift, winter and summer, times and seasons.

8. Earth comprises distances, great and small and the technologies used to cross these distances.

9. The Project Manager stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage and strictness.

10. By Method and Discipline are to be understood the forming of the team in its proper extended teams, the graduations of rank between leaders, extended team leaders and team members, the maintenance of vendor supply lines and control of budget.

11. These five heads should be familiar to every Project Manager: he who knows them will be successful; he who knows them will not fail.

12. Therefore, in your deliberations, when seeking to determine to best project, let them be made the basis of a comparison, in this wise:

13. (1) Which of the two projects is most in accord with the Moral Law?

(2) Which of the two Project Managers has the most ability?

(3) With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth?

(4) On which side are methods and discipline most rigorously enforced?

(5) Which Project Team is stronger?

(6) On which team are the leaders more highly trained?

(7) On which team is there the greater constancy both in reward and punishment?

14. By means of these seven considerations I can forecast success or failure.

15. The Project Manager that hearkens to my counsel and acts upon it, will succeed: let such a one be retained in command! The Project Manager that hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it, will fail: let such a one be dismissed!

16. While heeding the profit of my counsel, avail yourself also of any helpful circumstances over and beyond the ordinary rules.

17. According as circumstances are favorable, one should modify one's plans.