Golf is a very useful sport when it comes to business thanks to its social component and the lessons you can learn each time you play 18 holes. As an amateur player, I have learned a lot of things from golf to be applied into project management. These are some of the most interesting ones:
1) The golf course has 18 holes, not one more, not one less.
A project can be thought as a golf course of 18 holes, it begins when you place the ball in the first tee and it ends when you sink the putt in the last hole. As anything can happen during the golf course, one can never relax or claim victory until the last ball has been holed.
Something very similar occurs in project management. Once you start a project, you cannot call it done until there’s absolutely nothing left to do, even if there’s very little amount of work to be done. Usually, it takes the same amount of effort to execute 80% of the initial work than the last 20%. That’s due to many reasons, being too optimistic forethoughts and relaxation the most common ones.
In golf, relaxing before the game ends can have serious consequences in your final score, and the same can happen while managing a project, where relaxing can lead to worse results than expected in quality, time and cost.
2) Managing expectations leads to success:
In golf, managing expectations is key to achieve a great score. Being aware of our limits is very helpful. For example, a bogey can be a bad result for a professional, but is always good for an amateur with a handicap of 28.
In that way, when managing a project you must take into account the expectations of the different members of the project. If we think of a software development project, it’s key to make clear what the product consists in, the functions it must have and the work that will be needed to get it running.
3) The risk management is a must:
anticipating problems that may appear during the golf course is one of the clues for a good score. Instead of playing each hole as if it were the last one, risking that the ball may end in a hazard, or always using the driver from the tee, even in the most narrow fairways, you can choose more conservative strategies, like striking the ball with an iron to have an easier shot to the green afterwards.
During a project, risks may not be so clear as a bunker or a lake next to the green, or a narrow fairway surrounded by rough, but the person responsible must be aware of all the imaginable setbacks that may appear to change the strategy in order to avoid them and succeed.
4) No matter how:
While playing golf, it’s quite common to hear the players complaining about what went wrong during the course, whimpering about that ball that passed so near the hole or about that bad bounce in the fairway that ruined their score, but that doesn’t matter at all, because it’s the final result what counts.
The same occurs while you’re in a project. What the client wants is that you fulfill his requirements in quality, time and costs. Everythings else are bad excuses and it’s the project manager’s job to solve any problem that may appear in order to achieve the goals of the project.
*Image by Hiroyuki Takeda