Professional.Author.Thinker

Project Management and Art of War

The War and The General

Book Summary

Main article of the ‘battlefield’ book summary >>

Knowledge Areas

Sun Tzu on Knowledge Areas of PMBOK® >>

Enterprise Factors

Sun Tzu on Environmental Factors >>

The Project Manager

Sun Tzu on the general, the project manager >>

Beyond PMBOK®

The Art of War’s wisdom beyond PMBOK® >>

Project Management Battlefield_coverAlexander the Great, Hannibal, Asoka, Napoleon, and the list go on—it doesn’t take much knowledge of history to agree that history is full of tales of generals who have led thousands. Some of them conquered the world, and the others were known for their strategic and tactical skills on the battleground.

Most of us must have heard the names that are mentioned above. All these men are some of the most famous generals in the history of the world. They had armies and thousands of soldiers at their command. They conquered lands, were victorious against the strongest, expanded their kingdoms, and in turn established rule over millions. Expansion of the kingdoms was one of the only ways of establishing supremacy in the times they walked this earth.

These men were equipped with modern artillery, they had armies of skilled professional soldiers, and they were master strategists and tacticians. These men are known for how well they conducted the wars. The men led several battles with thousands of soldiers and several hundred types of weapons. There were times when the task at hand was deadly. Sometimes their existence was threatened, and in the other times, it was an easy, straightforward planned act of war. Sun Tzu wrote his book for such generals with the purpose of giving them a methodology for conducting war.

Let see some examples from the Project Management Battlefield:

Sun Tzu says…

ConfusedSun Tzu says that ”The commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage, and strictness“.

A Project Manager hears…

Sun TzuProject manager hears, “A leader should be wise, trustworthy, caring, courageous, and strict. Some of the important interpersonal skills to have include leadership, team building, motivation, communication, influence, the ability to make decisions, political and cultural awareness, and negotiation”.

ConfusedSun Tzu says that ”The general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought“. 

Sun TzuProject manager hears, “Project managers must have good decision-making skills. A project manager who spends time in planning the solution before embarking on the project has a much greater chance of success.

ConfusedSun Tzu says that ”It may be known that the leader of armies is the arbiter of the people’s fate, the man on whom it depends whether the nation shall be in peace or in peril“.

Sun TzuProject manager hears, “Project success and failure depends on the leadership qualities of the project manager. These qualities could have an impact on the future of the organization he is part of and also on the future of other team members in the project/organization“.

ConfusedSun Tzu says that ”There are five dangerous faults which may affect a general –

    1. Recklessness, which leads to destruction;
    2. Cowardice, which leads to capture;
    3. A hasty temper, which can be provoked by insults;
    4. A delicacy of honour which is sensitive to shame;
    5. Over-solicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble.

Sun TzuProject manager hears, these are the requirements for a lasting professional success -

  1. Recklessness can be thought of as hasty decision-making without adequate planning and/or not following proper risk management practices.
  2. Cowardice could be construed as the inability to make the right but difficult decisions that one may often need to take during the course of a project.
  3. A hasty temper can be thought of as having improper communication and/or a lack of political or cultural awareness in dealing with stakeholders.
  4. Sensitivity to shame could refer to his interpersonal skills and might make him second guess his decisions too often for fear of failure.
  5. A leader may have to make difficult decisions that may be against the short-term interests of his team. All of the above qualities can potentially lead to bad project performance”.

Book Summary

Main article of the ‘battlefield’ book summary >>

Knowledge Areas

Sun Tzu on Knowledge Areas of PMBOK® >>

Enterprise Factors

Sun Tzu on Environmental Factors >>

The Project Manager

Sun Tzu on the general, the project manager >>

Beyond PMBOK®

The Art of War’s wisdom beyond PMBOK® >>