Growing up in Arkansas I’ve always been told to live by 2 rules. #1. You never miss a Razorback game. #2. You always root for whoever plays Texas. I stayed true to those two rules until I had kids. I never imagined one of my own would come between me and my beloved Razorbacks. My son recently joined his high school band. We were ecstatic for him at the time, but little did I know what this entailed. Competitions EVERY Saturday during the MOST important part of the season – Razorback football season. Clearly, the people coordinating these competitions didn’t follow the Arkansas rules. How would I be the supportive dad that I am and still watch my Hogs? Then, I had a dream. A mobile man cave (the MMC). It was the perfect way to be supportive of my child and still hold true to the promise I had made myself – never ever let your team down. They need your support just as much as your own blood!
My project management tools were put to the test. Now you might be asking, “What does this have to do with project management?” The answer: everything. As a project manager, I use many of the same tools and techniques throughout my every day life. Planning, Initiating and Executing to name a few.
First step to making my dream a reality – nailing down the specifics. I had to start with developing what my ultimate scope of work would be. Did I want an RV, trailer or canopy-based solution? Should I stay conservative with a 32” TV or go all out and be the cool dad with the 55”? How would I access the TV service? If I order a pizza could they deliver on time? Each of these dilemmas played key roles in my final anticipated scope of work.
The scope was determined, so naturally, the next steps would be planning and initiating. If you’re a married man you should know what the next step is. Permission. Always ask your wife. I had to provide sufficient justification to make the purchase of a portable generator and a new 42” TV. I stayed moderately conservative with sizing. The new TV would be lighter and could be repurposed for a wall mount after the season- I even agreed to watch a chick flick once a month. Got her hook line and sinker. A generator would be good to have on hand in the case of an Arkansas blizzard knocking the power out- I really am looking out for everyone! The business case was critical to gaining approval of my proposed statement of work.
Upon approval (I have the best wife ever), the next step was to create a procurement plan. Research had to be done on the proper generator, TV and antenna system. Once complete and the items acquired, the man cave was ready for its big debut. However, with all great ideas there comes great risk. The concern was that the system wouldn’t go as planned and the big game, Arkansas vs. Alabama, would be missed. In order to mitigate this concern, a trial run was required. The MMC would be tested at a band competition the week before the big game during a face off against a directional school crème puff. We worked out all of the kinks during this test and insured confidence in the other band dads that the MMC was reliable.
Though the Razorbacks were defeated, crushed in fact, the MMC held strong. It was deployed several more times throughout the year without issue and as you can see I was definitely the most popular band dad. Just like with every good project, a lessons learned was conducted. At the end of the band season, as each component was stored, an after action review (AAR) was completed. This review was used to highlight strengths of the system and weaknesses. The results of this were plans for a bigger TV (go big or go home!), maybe a portable satellite system, trailer or a full sized smoker – what’s a game without the food?
From one true Project Manager to another (or just anyone reading this), I have two takeaways from this experience. Applying your PM tools to everyday life truly does benefit you and others and just because there’s a challenge in your way, don’t break your own rules. Especially number one.