The Project Management Marathon

I ran my first marathon in February. During the pandemic I started running just to get out of the house. Fast forward 10 months and I am on the starting line for the Florida Marathon.

At the starting line, I had in mind, the perfect plan to reach my racing goal. Over the next four hours, I was dealt some serious, unexpected roadblocks that jeopardized me reaching the finish line. The more I reflected on what happened, the more I related my experience to the day in and outs as a project manager at Yalo. 

Before starting a project with a new or existing client, there is always a plan in place for resources, timelines, and smooth processes. However, obstacles and bumps in the road are commonplace, especially over a long-term project. Things happen and will.

I believe preparation is key in life. Not just in sports, but in all that we do personally or professionally. I certainly thought I was prepared for the race. I had a game plan from nutrition to run times per mile. I knew I was going to reach a certain time at the end of the race. 

As with anything, the perfect plan does not exist. I started out the gates just great, thinking I am going to rock this thing! However, my plan was tossed…no, completely thrown out the window! 

First came really bad thunderstorms. Then the physical pain hit hard. I started cramping for miles, which I had not experienced before. But, like the obstacles we face in life and work, finding a way to the end goal is non-negotiable. We have to think quickly, adapt, put a plan in place and set small goals to accomplish the end objective. Inch by inch and half mile by half mile I kept going. I was way past my goal time, but at this point I was driven to finish. 

In the end, it’s about delivering a great product for our clients. This all depends on how quickly the team can pivot and work efficiently as a team to reach the goal. It’s critical to have an agile team that can be flexible enough to figure out a way to deliver on deadline. 

When s**t hits the fan, how can you get back on the road to reach a successful completion:

  1. Identify the problem: thunderstorms, timing, design disconnects (oh my!)
  2. Re-group and re-align with your team 
  3. Keep the team positive, hydrated and focused
  4. Keep the road to resolving an issue clear and simple
  5. Over-communicate and move in unison towards the objective 

Just like I’ve had time to reflect on the race, a post-mortem is also important. Identify the failures and successes to improve for the future. For running, I reflected on what caused my setbacks and asked myself some tough questions. With work projects, it’s important to reflect on how you can improve communication and planning to deliver a great product. In the end, be agile and always keep going…you will have great success!