The Art of Project Management - Chapter Two

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 Two


1. Sun Tzu said: In the execution of a project, where there are in the field ten extended team leaders, as many technical experts and a hundred team members, with supplies to run the project for one year, the expenditure at home and in the field, including the entertaining of customers, small items such as paper and shipping, and sums spent on travel and housing, will reach the total of $30 million.

2. When you engage in project execution, if success is delayed in coming, the team member's skills grow dull and their ardor will be damped. If you lay a protracted siege to an obstacle, you will exhaust your strength.

3. Again, if the execution is delayed, the resources of the company will not be equal to the strain.

4. Now, when your skills are dulled, your ardor damped, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other companies will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.

5. Thus, though we have heard of stupid waste in moving to execution too fast, cleverness has never been associated with long delays.

6. There is no instance of a company having benefited from a long delayed project.

7. It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the complexities of project executions that can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on.

8. The skillful Project Manager does not ask to increase the budget, neither are the same parts ordered twice from his vendors.

16. Now in order to work long hours when required, the team must be roused to excitement; that there may be advantage from completing the project, they must have their rewards.

17. Therefore in weekend and late night work, those should be rewarded who volunteered first.

20. Thus it may be known that the Project Manager is the arbiter of people's fate, the man on whom it depends whether the company shall succeed or fail.