The challenge of running a race and the satisfaction of completing one is similar to a project management setting. Here are some lessons that project managers can pick up from marathon runners.
Ask any seasoned marathon runner and they will tell you that they have a set routine for their run. They are also equally open to new routines or any changes in their daily routine, whether it is to challenge themselves or prevent an injury from getting worse. A project management scenario calls for a similar flexible approach, wherein the project manager introduces changes as and when required with the focus being steering the project forward, rather than imposing rigid rules.
Each race presents different obstacles to marathon runners, and similarly each project presents a different problem and learning experience. Project manager should not get complacent of their experience, but look to learn and grow with each project.
Plan and goals
Marathon runners usually have a daily plan in the weeks that lead up to the race. The idea is to build the stamina and strength to ace the race. Knowing that you are working toward something big by making minor accomplishments and advancements every day is what keeps runners fueled. Similarly, it is essential to have daily goals planned in a project management scenario, so you know you are making progress toward successful completion of the project.
Marathon runners take the time to help fellow runners and interact with spectators during a run. Similarly in a project management setting, the manager should take the time to establish a good work-life balance and ensure that the culture is conducive for the progress of the project.
Habits and processes
Most runners will have pre-run habits and activities that are crucial for a good run; it could be anything from having a healthy breakfast to practicing stretching exercises. In a project management setting, it is important to have supplementary processes that are crucial for the success of the project. It could be as simple as maintaining a time sheet so your team members are constructively utilizing their time. It will ensure that team members have all the right resources to take on the project.
Hills and challenges
When runners encounter an uphill track they automatically pace themselves and try to save energy for what is to follow. Uphills and challenges are not uncommon in projects; project managers should prepare themselves with the necessary resources to tackle the challenge.