Leanne Cullen

Member Article

Project Management: Zombies and Camels

Leanne Cullen, consultant at Waterstons, examines the traits that make a good project manager.

I have come across a term that perfectly describes what a project manager should NOT be: a Zombie! Im not talking about the lovely rum based cocktail type of Zombie, or even the mute, will-less undead type of Zombie (although neither would be ideal traits for a project manager) but the type of Zombie who is wooden, listless and mechanical; a Project Manager who goes through the motions and follows the project management methodology without applying any brain power.

Zombie Project Managers are really just people who are good at administration tasks they can organise, follow rules, update plans, have meetings, learn the PRINCE2 methodology and faithfully follow it. They do exactly what they are told to do, when they are told to do it they dont
challenge, they dont persuade, they never contribute ideas and invariably project chaos ensues. They are the text book project managers.

So what is the opposite of a Zombie Project Manager? A Vampire Project Manager? A Werewolf Project Manager? No..a Camel Project Manager. Thats right; the best analogy I have come across that describes a true Project Manager is a Camel. Thats not because all Project Managers are
humped backed and spit at their predators but that they are adaptable, versatile and the person that leads the entire project team through the dusty desert to project success.

  • Camels are adaptable to their surroundings. Project Managers have to be able to respond and effectively manage rapidly changing business conditions.
  • Camels are always prepared as their hump contains food stock. Project Managers have to be prepared for the unexpected and anticipate issues/project risks.
  • Camels maximise the use of their own resources and are able to survive for long periods of time. Project Managers often dont have time for lunch and also strive for optimum use of their resources.
  • Camels have feet for all types of land. Project Managers have to be in control and focus on the end goal no matter how rocky the path.
  • Camels can find food and shelter in places where no one else can. Project managers have to have the ability to think outside of the box when faced with challenges and use their creativity to effectively solve problems.
  • Camels have long eye lashes so that they can see clearly in the desert. Project Managers have to have leadership traits to guide, steer and manage projects particularly during sand storms (project crisis).
  • Camels are versatile as they are a mode of transport as well as producing milk and meat for food. Project Managers have to be able to adjust to their environment based on the situation they are in or the people they are working with.
  • Camels are nomadic travellers. Project Managers have to manage and effectively close projects to be able to move onto the next project.

Project Management isnt rocket science but to be a good Project Manager there are many character traits, common with those of the camel, that are required, along with a big dose of common sense.

So what would you be a Zombie or a Camel?

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Amy Crimmens .

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