Back to basics

Published in Project 

Project management is just a matter of finding out what works and doing it over and over again. Or is it? Sally Percy investigates 

“Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment.” This observation by the late US motivational speaker Zig Ziglar applies as much to project management as it does to art, music, sport, writing and many other activities.

The theory is that, if you repeat the same task or sequence of tasks over and over again, eventually you will excel at them. “Look at professional athletes,” says Adrian Dooley, lead author of the Praxis Framework, a free, online project management resource, and a book (£49.95) published by APM. “In their training, they practise the basics over and over again. They make these basics instinctive. In a game situation, they then improvise around those basic skills.

“If they didn’t spend so much time doing the ‘boring stuff’ and getting it right, they would never have a platform from which to launch their creativity.”

For example, footballer David Beckham revealed in 2013 that his mastery of the free kick was the result of “tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands” of practice free kicks in the local park when he was growing up. If only it were that simple…

In the world of project management, repetition does not relate to the process of landing a ball in a goal from a distance of 30 yards (although some project managers might argue that, actually, metaphorically it does). Instead, it relates to the process of getting the basics right – repeatedly.

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