Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Celebrity Apprentice

As strange as it might sound, Celebrity Apprentice provides a great deal of insight into effective project management. Last week’s episode showed an interesting team dynamic basically pitting Scott Hamilton (Olympic skater) against Tom Green (Comedian). It doesn’t take a lot of time to see that there are to many ego’s in the room, but you can’t stop superstars from being superstars. What you (the project manager) should do is direct their talents and energies in directions that are mutually beneficial to all (including you). It also showed Scott making decisions without team consent, an important one that the entire team seemed to disapprove of….a project manager should contribute and direct but needs to ensure that they (we) are not overriding other considerations purely based on position. So, my list of learnings from this episode:
  • Top down planning – don’t focus on anyone area until the entire scope is known – otherwise how would you know what the critical path and/or most important delivery
  • Understand your team and use their strengths – assign tasks to the strongest team member in that area, ensure success
  • Timebox as needed – some decisions need to be made at a certain time if you’re going to hit the critical delivery dates
  • Don’t let personality issues get in the way – business is business, just because you don’t like someone (and for good reasons) doesn’t mean that they can’t contribute. Be open and honest – tell them they suck if you want, but listen to them for ideas and assign them tasks that they are capable and effective at.
  • Friendships sometimes get in the way…business IS business – decide if the friendship is worth your job and how much you’re willing to push that gray line…
  • You don’t always succeed, but you should never lose – things happen, understand what the potential outcomes are of a bad project and deal with them – pressure makes diamonds and a whole lot of coal.

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