I love football - whether European football with a round ball or the American game with the ball that always bounces funny. However, as American football fans prepare for the upcoming Superbowl I can sit back and reflect on what football has taught me about Web Project Management. I have the time to do this because my favorite team won't be playing Sunday.
So here are five things I learned from watching football:
1. Expectations are important. The quarterback throws where the receiver is supposed to be. If the receiver's expectations are different from the quarterback's then he'll be in the wrong spot and miss the ball. The Web Project Manager, the Web team and the sponsor must also share the same expectations. Otherwise, the Web team will launch a project that the sponsor doesn't want/need/be wiling to pay for.
2. If you get sacked, pick yourself up off the ground and try a new play. Things go wrong on the football field and on projects. You can't obsess over past mistakes. You have to dust yourself off and try a different approach.
3. Don't blame the other guy. Football is a team sport. You need eleven people on the field working together to win. Look at the teams that consistently get to the championship rounds. You never hear them criticizing other players on their team. They succeed or fail together. Like a successful quarterback, a Web Project Manager keeps the team working together.
4. You need to anticipate what might go wrong and have a backup plan. My favorite NFL team's offense goes into the game with fifteen plays they plan to use at the start of the game. If those plays go well, then they continue their game plan. If the defense anticipates and reacts well, preventing the offense from storming down the field and scoring, then the offensive coach, the head coach and the quarterback go to their backup plan. NFL teams and Web Project Managers should always have a backup plan.
5. Lessons Learned are the key to succeeding in the next game. Coaches and players spend a lot of time studying what they did right and what they did wrong in previous games. Good Web Project Managers and their teams are careful to note their successes and errors as well. Improvement doesn't come from doing something right - it comes from doing something wrong and never repeating that error.
So the NFL can teach Web Project Managers a lot. Which is why I'll be watching every game next year. That and I just love football.