Who needs a project manager anyway?

So who needs a project manager? I was putting an ‘introduction to project management’ workshop together, and I wanted a quick and easy – and visually impacting – (and tongue in cheek) way of illustrating the benefits of project management.

This video clip was doing doing the email rounds at the time and illustrates several points pretty well. Recorded on a mobile phone somewhere high up on the Karakorum highway in Pakistan, it does I believe make the point perfectly.
Consider the following…
A truck rolls over in transit. Help arrives instantly in the form of many subject matter experts (fellow lorry drivers) queuing up behind. The project objective is clearly set.
“Get the lorry upright and moving again” and then its all hands to the pumps. So who needs a project manager? Everyone is knowledgeable in the field, and the project objective is clear. Work commences, and the objective is met. But was the project a success?
In the video clip below, watch for the following:
• Several teams form and pull/push in opposing directions without overall leadership at the beginning.
• Multiple potential self-appointed leaders emerge and most people ignored them
• Eventually – one team gains critical mass and others defect to the winning team. Once this tipping point is reached (excuse the pun) the truck is righted.
• Once delivered however – project closure doesnt go exactly as hoped for.


 So – what are the lessons are to be drawn about project delivery from the video?
• The project objective was met, but in hindsight the objective clearly did not meet the business need. (More time should have been spent understanding the business need – and therefore the risks that may have prevented success.)
• With no project manager nobody was looking at risk management or the ‘big picture’
• Project planning and a structured approach would have had all teams working together and a more efficient and quicker delivery.

the takeaways from this?
• If you ever find yourself righting a truck in a large disorganised gang stand on the uphill side.
• A project without a project manager is like an orchestra without a conductor. Don’t risk it.

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