Posted by: kerrywills | April 23, 2010

Winning at basketball and delivering projects

I have been watching the NBA playoffs recently and had an epiphany that basketball games are often played in the same ways that projects are managed. 

If you watch enough basketball, you know that most games are won in the last two minutes of playing as the games go back and forth for the first 46 minutes. But in reality, winning the game is about playing strong and consistently all game.  This is very similar to projects in that projects that succeed do so by “playing their game” the entire time which includes:

  • Making baskets (completing deliverables)
  • Making assists (good teamwork)
  • Getting rebounds (responding quickly to missed shots/deliverables)
  • Playing solid defense (not allowing a lot of changes and volatility)
  • Pacing the team throughout the entire game
  • Having the right people playing positions (fit of team members to roles)
  • Watching the scoreboard often (monitoring progress)
  • Adjusting the game plan in response to the game (flexible planning and forecasting)
  • Having a supportive coach who is decisive
  • Staying away from fouls

Every basket/deliverable counts

The key is constant diligence throughout the entire game, which is the job of the coach (PM) to ensure happens. A lot of times I see projects not staying diligent and they tend to get behind quickly. This is also the case in basketball where a team gets behind but still has time left to win the game. Instead of focusing on playing diligently they start throwing up bad shots, rushing plays, passing the ball away and taking difficult three pointers. The result is that they usually get farther behind and eventually lose the game.

Keep the team focused and continue to play a solid game from start to finish and you should be on track for some big wins. I’ll let you decide how many tattoos is too many for the players on your team.


  1. What about:

    Boxing out (keeping outsiders from impacting the project)

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