Project Management

5 Lessons PMs Can Learn From Mismanaged Pro Sports Teams

Tom is a Project System Architect in New York.

After reading about the history of a professional sports team’s failure to win a championship for multiple decades (at 56 years and counting), I reflected on the mistakes that I made in my management of a software team. Turns out, there are many similarities.

Are you making these mistakes that many pro sports teams are making?

1. Not enough scouting: The first mistake I made is not spending enough time to interview new candidates. I remember we were hiring for a senior position, and the first candidate failed to qualify with the skills we were looking for.

Then the second candidate came along. They were slightly better than the first one, and my director made his decision to hire. I recommended considering the third candidate based on his resume, but I was told we don’t have more time to interview.

This is similar to what this team did in drafting young players. They didn’t spend enough on scouts to sieve out players in the minor league—and would squander away their first-round draft pick.

In our case, the director didn’t want to invest more time doing another interview, and we ended up with a mediocre candidate instead of a top performer.

2. Not enough time to go through training: The second mistake I had seen was not giving new hires enough time to be indoctrinated or trained to learn the skills required to perform. There were …

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"Nothing defines humans better than their willingness to do irrational things in the pursuit of phenomenally unlikely payoffs."

- Scott Adams