PROJECT EXECUTION: The Similarities between Sports and Projects

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PROJECT EXECUTION: The Similarities between Sports and Projects

“It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.” – Napolean Hill

As I have grown in my position as project coordinator, I’ve come to realize many of the traits I gained as a collegiate athlete directly apply to my day to day project work.  For example:

Team player – Being a part of a team is really important for the success of a season or a project. This means you never act truly alone and you are supported by coaches, trainers, teammates; project leads, SME’s, account managers and the like. It is key to be aware of your teams’ strengths and weaknesses. By identifying risks, you can know what to be on the lookout for. Like fellow athletes, all colleagues have their own style, personalities, and way of executing so it’s important to learn from one another, trust in each other and not let each other down. Being a team player doesn’t just apply for your immediate team, but also for the vendors and customers that you work with. Rather than agreeing on a scope and delivering the end product, working and developing alongside our customers will foster a better working relationship. We can learn so much from our customers and they can also learn from us. The relationship is mutually beneficial. The goal is to put your team, customers and vendor’s best interest first to set them up for success, then we can all succeed together.

Open communication – a strong teammate is one who communicates openly and often. Whether it’s letting your teammate know “man on your left” when defending on the field, making your team aware of any schedule changes, or setting out code standards among multiple engineers on a project. All of the aforementioned scenarios display the importance of communication to deliver the best product, or win the game. Open communication also allows for internal and external transparency to build the partnership, the trust and, almost more importantly, the bond.

Ability to be agile and welcome collaboration – There is no “I” in team but there is an “M” and an “E”. You must hold yourself accountable, make a commitment to the team and welcome collaboration from your peers or external resources. It is mission critical for all team members to be on the same page. Be it meeting a specific development deadline within budget or completing your off season workout program; these are a few examples of how it is important to hold yourself accountable to meet the teams expectations. Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world, so when the plan goes awry it is important to be able to collaborate and reset with your team. The same steps are needed if you are making the call as goal keeper to reset your defense in a split second on a corner play or if you adjust your design approach when you hit a bump in the project road. All these things can be achieved and be successful but you cannot do it alone in a vacuum. The team must be able to work together, pivot and collaborate to quickly come up with the best path forward.

It’s easy to get trapped in the familiar and muddle through managing projects on a day to day basis but let’s put in a new perspective. Imaging that every project is THE championship game, no matter how small or large. And remember, since there is no I in Team, you cannot score a goal without the assist, the coach or the defense all in concert.  Similarly you can’t succeed on a project without the lead, the solution engineer or the project coordinator. Regardless of the view you have, from the field or in the office, the key is to be a team player, with open communication and the ability to effectively collaborate to achieve the ultimate win.
That’s how I approach winning regardless of the setting. What do you do in your role?
Image Source: Freepik

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