The Art of Project Management: Expert advice from experienced project managers in Silicon Valley, and around the world

If you can drive, you can understand project managing.

This is Laura Lee Rose, a business and life coach that specializes in professional development, time management, project management and work-life balance strategies. In my GoTo Academy: Soft Skill Tools for the GoTo Professional continuous online coaching series, I go into office etiquette on various real-world IT topics in detail.
If you are interested in more training in these areas, please sign-up for the continuing online coaching series.

If you know how to drive, you already understand project management. You may still not want to be a project manager, but at least you understand better their function and value. In fact, project management and defensive driving have much in common. Let’s look:

Road Expectations Project Management Equivalent
Traffic patterns and traffic rules Project ground rules, schedules, resources, budgets, etc
You cannot safely go faster than the car in front of your Critical path analysis and task dependencies
Everyone in your lane (even though they have a variety of destinations) really needs to be heading in the same direction Everyone on your team (even though they may have different motives) need to be heading in the same direction.
Car’s break lights are RED for a reason RED FLAGS on a project mean slow down; stop; and re-evaluate.
Motorist pull over for emergency vehicles Projects have recovery protocol charts and plans
Motorists merge temporarily into another lane to get around an accident. Project resources are temporarily redirected to past a blocking issue.
Traffic lights and signs are placed to control the traffic patterns and keep everyone in-synch and on time. Status reports and quality metrics are placed to keep everyone in-synch with the delivery schedule.
Motorists risk lives when they speed and ignore traffic rules. Employees risk the project schedule and create hostility in the team when they ignore the project rules.
Accidents and traffic tickets delay time to destination Defects and morale issues delay project delivery schedules
Optimal routes change depending upon road conditions, weather, traffic patterns, time of day traffic loads, and construction schedules. Projects often deviate from the original route because of various contributing factors such as: resource allocations, equipment failure, outsource/contract disputes, defects in components, scheduled maintenance and security upgrades, etc.
General motorist courtesy: slower traffic stays right, left lane reserved for passing only, leave enough space when you change lanes (no cutting off people), allow people to merge into your lane, etc. Project meetings have certain courtesy ground rules: No interruptions, allow everyone to speak their opinions, no arguing, allow the option to change direction (as long as the destination stays the same).
Yield the right of way Abide by the priority of the team goals (not just your own agenda).
Pedestrians have the right of way Keep the client perspective in mind at all times. Project Managers need to also be a client advocate
Motorists encounter detours because of unexpected road constructions – but their final destination is the same. The natural flow of a project will have some detours – but the final destination always stays the same.
Getting angry at the non-moving traffic doesn’t make the traffic move any faster. Getting upset at the lack of visible project progress isn’t helping. Either take constructive action or be confident that things will eventually move along.
Road rage Sometimes there is road rage in the boardroom or office meeting. It’s as dangerous in the office as it is on the streets.
Texting while driving may cause something to be missed and end up in a fatality. Texting and multitasking in a project meeting will cause something to be missed and end in a delay in schedule.
Bridges ice first Project pieces not well grounded or rooted, are risky. That is why you have Risk Analysis and Risk Management as part of the project manager’s toolbox.
Different cars handle differently on the road. All employees and resources are not the same. You need to handle them individually.
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About the Author

Laura is a Corporate Exit Strategist for the Blooming Entrepreneur. She is a certified business and personal life coach, specializing in time management skills, project management training and work/life balance strategies. She has been in the software and testing industry for over 20 years. She’s worked with such companies as IBM, Ericsson, Staples, Fidelity Investments and Sogeti in various client advocacy and project management roles. The techniques she uses in her business coaching and client advocacy work saved these companies both time and money, which resulted in on-time, quality product delivery with higher client satisfaction. Laura now uses her client focus, project, quality and people management skills in her personal life coaching career. As a personal life coach, she helps people transform their life by integrating their goals and dreams into their everyday lives. Laura uses creative and practical tools to help her clients realize what really matters to them. She helps others to easily transition into their next chapter whether it’s the next ladder of success within their corporate environment or into the entrepreneurial playground. I am not a fan of choosing to act in spite of fear. Rather, together we will collaborate toward a plan of inspired action. We will develop a plan together that you feel confident and excited about. For us, Taking The Leap will be magical, exhilarating and natural. If you are eager to take that next logical step but are unsure what it is signup for the Corporate Exit Strategy Coaching group. We have books, tapes, training materials, twice-monthly group coaching events, 3-day workshops, and individual coaching sessions to help you on your way toward your freedom and prosperity.
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