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September 2007

Full Contact Project Management

project managementLeague Champions

Everybody wants to be the league champion. Nobody wants to finish at the bottom. Yet, there are too many people who say that they want to become champions, but hardly even become players. They eat junk food, skip practice, and look for the easy way out.

"But Coach, I'm confused," you say. "Are we talking about athletics or project management?" Be patient, team. This will all become clear in just a moment.

Let's start by asking a question. How do you get to be a better PM? Just as an athlete might improve by lifting weights, and as a distance runner would work on endurance, speed and distance, someone who wants to be a better PM should be looking for ways to train harder. Let me tell you a quick story.

Several years ago, I was helping to coach a boys soccer team. They were all under 16 years old, but they were very good. They were on what we called a "traveling team," meaning that they didn't play just in the neighborhood league anymore — neither did their competitors. These teams consisted of elite players from the various communities. The teams matched up well against each other, and the games were always hard fought and very competitive.

Question for you: How does such a team improve, given what we've already covered here so far? You say, "Hey, Coach, maybe you could make the practices harder or longer. Or maybe you could travel farther distances to play better teams." Not a bad answer, but I've got something even better.

We coaches decided to enter the team into a tougher league, a men's "industrial" league made up of college-aged guys and older — guys who knew how to play the game, and guys who were quite a bit bigger and stronger than our kids. But our kids had heart, were fast, and they played hard. How do you think they did? Well, if you were expecting me to say that they won the league championship, you'd be wrong. They actually got their butts kicked!

But here's what they were able to do. They played these older guys really tough, lots of body checking and physical action. And even though the older teams were just too much for them, they did learn how to play hard, physical, demanding soccer. They never let up even though they lost — score-wise — about a dozen times. I think we actually finished dead last in that league.

After the final game of the season, do you think the kids went home, complained to their parents about how big the other players were, and how unfair the whole thing was? Just cried about it, right? Not!

Actually, at the end of the season, these kids realized they had been given a huge opportunity to take their game to the next level. They were excited. They knew that they had the fundamentals, possessed the skills, and now understood the game even better. The big guys had tolerated them, allowed them to play hard, and endured the body checking by the younger guys. This gave the kids confidence, and they knew that they could play with just about anybody.

Of course, they just had to try again next season, which was only a couple of months away. Long story short, the kids won that season and became the league champions.

You see, it's all about confidence, skill and technique — all of that, and knowing the rules. Which is why you have to ramp up your own training, hone those skills, and develop the confidence you need.

Coach wants you to do the same thing. I want you to get into the game. I want you to go up against the biggest competitors, the biggest CMs or GCs that you can. I want you to stop playing only in your neighborhood league. I want you and your company to move up, to put yourselves into a better league.

And you're going to do this by using Full Contact Project Management techniques. You're going to find that even the biggest companies will respect you — even though they might not like you — and that you'll greatly improve your skills very quickly. In fact, you'll improve your skills faster by dealing with a "Top 100" builder or contractor than you ever will dealing with, say, very small general contractors.

Of course, this supposes that you actually are able to get some work with larger contractors! But look at it this way: Once you realize that you can play in a bigger pond, it gives your estimators more places to fish! But if your company has the skill and the people to do those types of jobs, don't be intimidated by the size of the companies managing them. You'll find that you can — and you will — be able to compete.

Coach Gary says: Play physically. Never give up. Give it all you've got. Improve your "diet." Practice harder. Change leagues. And become a champion.








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