Waging Project Management Warfare
Recently, I took a hiatus from my job as a project manager at a software development company to attend a three-day, intensive self-protection class taught by a former Navy Seal, Richard Machowitz. Despite the fact that majority of the class was spent running eye-poking, groin-kicking and nose-kneeing drills, I kept finding myself comparing the experience to software project management.
Did it surprise me that a self-protection class based on combat principles reminded me of my daily work? Not exactly. The signs of project management and warfare convergence have been all around me, from gantthead's Project Management According to Napoleon series by Jerry Manas, to one of my favorite project management books, Software Project Survival Guide (McConnell, 1998).
Combat principles and project management
On the first day of the course, our instructor introduced us to the "Three Dynamic Elements of Combat." These elements, which apply to all types of combat, are targets, weapons and movement. Specifically:
Targets dictate Weapons
Weapons dictate Movement
Here is a simple example he uses to illustrate the concept. Go turn off your office light. As you will notice, you didn't need anyone to tell you what hand or what motion to use to do it. You simply had your target and were able to instinctively choose the weapon and movement necessary to "take down the target."
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"Work is what you do for others . . . art is what you do for yourself."
- Stephen Sondheim