Project Management

MacGyvering Your Way to Project Success

Brad Egeland is an IT/project management consultant and author with over 25 years of software development, management and project management experience leading initiatives in manufacturing, government contracting, gaming and hospitality, retail operations, aviation and airline, pharmaceutical, start-ups, healthcare, higher education, not-for-profit, high-tech, engineering and general IT.

Remember the old MacGyver series? Angus MacGyver, played by Richard Dean Anderson, could get himself out of just about any jam using anything from Silly Putty to paper clips to a piece of string. (He could even make a gun out of a pen!) Yes, those things are a bit beyond the normal project manager, but we all have our fallbacks--the things we rely on to get us out of some of the jams we get ourselves into (or our teams or customers get us into).

But is that the right way? Do we want to use whatever happens to be convenient at the moment to help us around an issue? MacGyver had to because he was almost always dealing with situations of clear and present danger that had to be resolved instantly. He didn’t have the opportunity for advanced planning or risk management to get him through the messes he faced. As project managers who should be utilizing best practices, we do--or at least we should.

If we get in the habit of looking for the quick fix to our project management problems, then we’re never going to learn how to avoid them in the future. We’ll never learn from our mistakes and we’ll find ourselves always relying on luck to get out us out of messy project situations. Eventually, our luck will run out and we’ll be exposed for who we really are--a talentless project manager who has skated by on the ability to avoid project catastrophes …

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