The concept of project management has existed ever since the first time one caveman turned to the others and said, “Well, we can’t all go mammoth hunting.” While things have evolved a bit since then due to the development of things such as written language, long-distance communication, computer technology, and the like, the idea behind the original (albeit imaginary) quote remains the truth in its simplest form. For any objective to come to fruition, whether the goal is finishing a business project or ensuring the prosperity of an entire civilization, it’s important to remember that if we’re all out hunting mammoths, no one’s picking berries, guarding the cave or figuring out what that whole “fire” thing’s all about.
Over the many years since those cavemen realized that variety is the spice of life, we as a people have greatly refined our approach. While we haven’t lost the basic survival instincts involved in reacting to our surroundings, we have learned to adjust our surroundings in order to make them significantly easier to react to. As business as a concept has become more intricate, technology has advanced and management skills have progressed to keep pace. Spectacular successes have served as sources of motivation while equally spectacular failures have become lessons on what to avoid at all costs.
Occasionally, some of those who have run those spectacularly successful businesses have been good enough to share the management knowledge they’ve gained from their years spent in their industries. You’ll find a few tidbits of that knowledge below, as well as some helpful hints as to how you can use their advice to help you manage your own projects.
1) “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.” ~ Former Xerox CEO, Anne M. Mulcahy
In every position in any industry, it’s important for the morale of each individual to feel as if they matter as an actual person rather than as just another cog in the machine. We’re all far more likely to do our best when we’re doing something we care about as more than just a paycheck, and the best way to ensure that workers do care is to ensure that they in turn feel they are cared for. There’s more to it than just learning names or shaking hands. Learn about your workers. Listen to their ideas. Give each person a voice, and you might be surprised at what they use that voice to say.
2) “Management must speak with one voice. When it doesn’t, management itself becomes a peripheral opponent to the team’s mission.”
~ Winner of five NBA championships as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, three Coach of the Year awards as head coach for both the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks, and two NBA championships and the 2011 Executive of the Year award as president of the Miami Heat, Pat Riley
When strife rears its ugly head among the upper echelon of management, it’s hard enough to keep things under control when it’s kept behind closed doors. On the other hand, when those issues become public knowledge, the ripples that emanate from the top on down can have a catastrophic effect not just within the company itself, but on the opinions of those outside the company. A company’s reputation that took years and years to build can be thoroughly demolished within minutes if the worst comes to pass. If you ensure that everyone involved in upper management is on the same page, everything else has a much better chance of falling nicely into place.
3) “Management innovation is going to be the most enduring source of competitive advantage. There will be lots of rewards for firms in the vanguard.” ~ Founder of the international management consulting firm Strategos and one of the world’s most influential business management thinkers, Gary Hamel
With advances in language, technology, and communications, the world has become a much more fluid place. The internet has given voices to millions upon millions of people, each of whom has the ability to share up-to-the-moment news of world events in a manner that can span the globe within minutes. The power of computers is developing at an exponential rate, and with that comes a massive torrent of both the progression in knowledge of innovative management techniques and the advancement of the capabilities of software designed to allow a more streamlined usage of said techniques
. Businesses must not just learn to adapt, but learn to excel
at adapting to new advances and new circumstances alike. Those companies at the forefront, those that learn to use the new methods of management that have been designed to cope with the trials and tribulations of this ever-changing world, will find themselves in a far better position to succeed than those who stick to more conservative methods.
Remember, by learning from those who came before us, we in turn can teach those who come after us.
Joseph H is a blogger for Copper. He spends a lot of time hoping other people learn from his mistakes, and would never lead anyone astray unless doing so would be really, really funny.