Thursday, October 22, 2015

Six lessons that project managers could learn from elephants

Elephants are majestic creatures that have remained mysterious to humans though they have been domesticated thousands of years ago.

Tales of their bravery and intelligence have been carried through generations which can teach us a few things about community life.

Startups with brilliant plans and experienced project managers sometimes fail to implement their tasks or time or fail to recognize business opportunities and fall behind others.

Here are a few lessons that project managers can learn from these intelligent animals who have managed to survive for centuries in the midst of harsh environmental changes and pressure from human settlements.

1. Learning from mentors

Like a calf learns its first lessons humbly from its mother and other senior cow elephants in the herd and hones its survival instincts, project manager should also display humility before experts more experienced than them. Expertise and experience of seniors will help project manager avoid problems and maximize potential of success.

2. Awaiting recognition

The present trend among people is to work hard and achieve success at a faster pace to be considered as achievers in society and workplace. In this thirst for recognition and quick fame people fail to take time to appreciate efforts of others which have helped to bring them to this level. The ideal work culture should be to let your work speak for itself instead of hankering after glory.

3. Developing a thick skin

People in general lack a healthy attitude towards criticism and comparison and tend to develop negative reactions. The right approach would be to develop thick skin like an elephant which is extremely tough and take criticism in a positive manner to improve work standard and use it as an enriching experience.

4. Optimal use of strength

Just as an elephant uses its massive strength to pull a tiny shrub or a large tree with the same deftness, a project manager also should know where to use their expertise. Each individual is endowed with strength and ability to perform tasks and project manager has to recognize these abilities of team members and put them to effective use.

5. Effective communication

Elephants communicate with each other continuously to stay in touch and also to discuss about vegetation and water resources. In digital age man has much more tools of communication in hand to share ideas and convey progress reports. The key lies in sharing details at appropriate times to manage project progress.

6. Surviving against adversity

As firms grow and expand there will be bigger challenges for project managers as they will have to compete against bigger brands and people more experienced than themselves. Strong managers have to develop survival instinct to give a fair fight to all opponents and complete project successfully.

(Note: The above is excerpted from the Project Portfolio Management Playbook published by Thinking Portfolio)


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