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.
1. Sun Tzu said: The control of a large project is the same in principle as the control of a small project: it is merely a question of dividing up their numbers.
2. Executing with a large team under your control is nowise different from executing with a small team: it is merely a question of organizing your project schedule.
3. To ensure that your project may withstand the brunt of the risks and chaos of the real world and remain unshaken - this is effected by calendars, durations and networks.
4. That the impact of your project may be like a grindstone dashed against an egg - this is effected by the science of critical and non-critical paths.
5. In all Project Management, calendars may be used for execution, but networks will be needed in order to secure success.
6. Networks, efficiently applied, are inexhaustible as Heaven and Earth, unending as the flows of rivers and streams; like the sun and moon, they end but to begin anew; like the four seasons, they pass away to return once more.
7. There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combination of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard.
8. There are not more than five primary colors (blue, yellow, red, white and black), yet in combination they produce more hues than can ever be seen.
9. There are not more than five cardinal tastes (sour, acrid, salt, sweet, bitter), yet combinations of them yield more flavors than can ever be tasted.
10. In Project Management there are not more than three scheduling elements - calendars, durations and networks; yet these three in combination give rise to an endless series of schedules.
11. Calenders, durations and networks lead to each other in turn. It is like moving in a circle - you never come to an end. Who can exhaust the possibilities of their combination?
12. The onset of execution is like the rush of a torrent which will even roll stones along in its course.
13. The quality of a decision os like the well-times swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim.
14. Therefore the good Project Manager will be terrible in his execution, and prompt in his decision.
15. Scheduling may be likened to the bending of a crossbow; decision to the releasing of a trigger.
16. Amid the turmoil and tumult of execution, there may be seeming disorder and yet no real disorder at all; amid confusion and chaos, your team may be without head or tail, yet it will be proof against defeat.