September 2008: Full Contact Project Management

Words: Dan KamysSeptember 2008 Full Contact Project Management

Lessons Learned From Whoopi

The movie 'Sister Act' can teach project management lesions to contractors.

Gary MicheloniBy "Coach" Gary Micheloni

Obviously, nothing is quite as relaxing as watching a good, mind-numbing movie. With a beverage beside me and my faithful dog lying on the floor next to me, it makes me forget about the cares of the world. I just kick back, recharge the old batteries and forget about work for the rest of the night.

On the screen came the movie "Sister Act." I immediately planned on not liking it or even paying attention to it, but there's actually some good stuff in there. I thought the same thing for a moment, as I began watching the movie, and then almost ended up missing a huge lesson that every PM needs to know.

In this movie, Whoopi is a lounge singer who is in trouble with a mobster and staying in a witness protection environment: a convent. She's not getting along with the others or doing any work. So Mother Superior decides to make Whoopi direct the choir.

The choir is dreadful with no talent, no cohesiveness and no desire to even practice. Enter Whoopi who, despite her many faults, is perfect for this job, because she has been trained in music. She knew how to assemble and lead them. She realized that certain things worked and other things didn't, and implemented the necessary changes.

She got her team to buy into her plan. She had a strategy, and it all had to do with how her group perceived her and what they thought of her. She got her team to believe in her and to buy into her overall strategy:

  • She's the leader
  • She knows what she's doing
  • She knows skills that she can teach
  • She gave her team members a track they can run on together
  • She transferred to her team her passion for excellence in singing
  • She successfully convinced her team that it takes work and desire to win.

The amazing thing is that it takes little time to implement a strategy like this, as long as you have the skills in you so that you can bring them to your team.

The biggest challenge is for you is deciding whether you can believe in yourself enough for your company and crew to believe in you.

So, how did Whoopi make her choir so much better in such a short period? She actually focused on two things:
  • Each team member has to listen to the notes of the rest of the team
  • Every member of the team has to sing with an attitude

When each person listens to the rest of the team or crew, the tasks accomplished provide beautiful new music.

And, when your crew can "sing" that beautiful new music, instead of fighting each other, it'll develop more confidence. And, when your crew develops confidence, they'll perform with an attitude and portray a professional image.

So, to begin your team building, you need a system and a process. Let's make this free and easy for the readers of Masonry. Watch the movie, and then make a quick trip to Coach Gary's Corner. Rumor has it that Whoopi already went there.

Gary Micheloni is a working project manager, speaker, author and consultant. Copyright 2008 Gary Micheloni  
Coach Gary's Corner:

To learn this process, you need a system for 2008. Visit or, and click on the link near the top of the page to sign up for my five-part miniseries on RFIs and change orders. Don't be fooled into not getting this free "coaching" and valuable course. You'll be thanking me for a long time that you learned this stuff. Check out the free audio updates and other info that will help your projects. Also, you can get Coach Gary's book "Get Paid for a Change!"

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