Project Management: Eating an Elephant

elephant pm

Here’s how to plan and deliver your project without a project management certification: just imagine that you have to eat an elephant, and follow these steps.

  1. If the elephant is really big, find the way to have only one elephant dropped on your plate.
  2. Make sure that the elephant is … well, does not move. This step may turn brutal but it is mandatory if you want to stay alive and well yourself (in case this is really an elephant and not just a dead horse).
  3. Take all measurements, including length of tusks and body weight. Plan the cuts (if this is your first time, use a beef chart for initial planning). Never try to eat it yourself. Just having to taste the elephant cuts here and there, you will get full, regardless, I can bet any money, so not a bite.
  4. Plan to keep the tusks though: they look good on your CV.
  5. Calculate how many meals it will make and what kind of meals; based on the findings, figure out how many eaters you will need on your team. When negotiating eaters’ availability with their line managers, make sure the eaters have the guts that are appropriate for the meal.
    Note: Be cautious with diversity and inclusivity. Your team will be naturally effective AND diverse if you select players who are excited to eat an elephant. If their values are aligned, nothing else matters; disregard their racial, religious, sexual or political orientation. However, whatever they tell you, it will probably make no sense to have vegans and Hindus on this particular team.
  6. Depending on the climate, you may need to have the elephant eaten as soon as possible; otherwise it is going to rot, and nobody will want to eat your elephant unless you pay extra. And mind you, the smell will then follow you for quite a while…
  7. You may then decide to optimize your eating plan. Get your newly formed team involved in the process: a properly orchestrated brainstorming session boosts motivation and increases appetite. You must go out of the room with an updated Elephant Cuts Chart and a clear common understanding of who eats what and when. Some toddlers may need to be reminded that a mouthful of half-chewed meat does not count as eaten.
  8. When all the above has been taken care of, eating the elephant goes like a song. Seriously, make it fun. When work is turned into play, your team will be intrinsically motivated and therefore efficient throughout the entire meal.
  9. Do not forget to praise your best eaters when the meal is over. Celebrate their success. Serve them something really special, serve them yourself, each and everyone, and be genuinely grateful because they had the elephant eaten for you.

If you do all the above correctly, the team will be ready to eat an elephant for you again and again, while cheerfully chasing all predators away from you and stomping out office snakes and lizards on the way.
And the fellow tribesmen watching you from the distance will whisper with awe: That’s a really good project manager