Project Management

Avoid 'Groundhog Day' Mistakes

Eric Bergman

Mistakes are inevitable on any project. Some are even valuable if they serve as lessons learned for future efforts. But mistakes that happen again and again are damaging. With the movie "Groundhog Day" as our guide, here are four common mistakes that no project manager should repeat.

Phil: Do you ever have déjà vu, Mrs. Lancaster?

Mrs. Lancaster: I don’t think so, but I could check with the kitchen.

The 1993 movie “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray is more than just a beloved comedy about a rodent and a weatherman; it is a lesson in learning about the mistakes you make and how you hold the power to make different choices next time.

As project managers, mistakes are not necessarily a bad thing — in fact, in any project, mistakes are inevitable. It’s the mistakes we continue to make that cost our businesses, and make us feel like we are stuck repeating the same day over and over (and over) again.

Here are just a few lessons we can take from the movie:

1: Lose Sight of the Big Picture

One of the most common, yet most devastating, mistakes a project manager can make is obsessing over the details and losing sight of the big picture. In the beginning of the movie, soon after Bill Murray’s character, Phil Connors, realizes he’s repeating the same day many times over, he only looks at the details. Think: …

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"Of course the music is a great difficulty. You see, if one plays good music, people don't listen, and if one plays bad music, people don't talk."

- Oscar Wilde