A Master’s Approach to Project Management

The elements of the golf swing are a perfect metaphor to illustrate the key tips for entrepreneurs in the startup phase of any new venture or project.

A successful swing has five components, but they must be integrated seamlessly in order to achieve the perfect shot. You don’t have to play golf to benefit from the tips. For entrepreneurs who hit the links, the analogy can add value to your golf swing as well as to starting your business(es).

1. Keep your eye on the ball (Initiating)

The Gaelic expression Tús maith leath na hoibre loosely translates as, “A good start is half the battle.” It applies equally to a golf swing as it does to a new idea. The golfer must align the various parts of the swing (feet, shoulders, hands, and clubface), prior to initiating any movement. Similarly, the entrepreneur needs to align the new business idea (passions, skills, commitments, opportunities), before the planning kickoff.

The business case is the key document to record this alignment and may need several “passes” to achieve correct alignment for the conditions. In a similar way, Canadian golfer Mike Weir has a distinctive “waggle” as he sets up his alignment and becomes committed to the shot.

A key complementary component of this tip is to have the correct takeaway of the golf club—not too close to the body nor too wayward. Similarly, the entrepreneur should conduct a stakeholder analysis to ensure that the planning for a venture gets off on the right track.

During this initiation and for the rest of the swing the golfer maintains a close eye on the ball (a tip here is to try to read the text or number on it). Similarly, the entrepreneur needs to maintain focus and keep track of the business case.

2. Pause at the top of the backswing (Planning)

Here’s one of the best golf tips I ever received: Listen for the church bell at the top of your swing. The golf professional involved was referring to the length of time I should pause at the top of the backswing before commencing the downswing. (The parish priest presumably had other reasons for ringing the bell.)

In a similar way, many Russians will advise you to sit on your luggage before embarking on a journey as a way to reflect on what lies ahead and what lies in the contents of your bags. Both tips relate to the same need to pause before the real action begins.

Likewise, the entrepreneur needs to find time to “pause” at the end of planning before “launching” into execution of the venture. The pause creates a trigger mechanism that allows you to create an end to the left-brain-driven logical and sequential thought processes that enable planning and to invite more of the right-brain and subconscious thought processes to start and flow.

Just as the orchestra conductor taps the baton on the stand to signal the beginning of the performance, so too should you call your team together for a kickoff meeting to signal the end of planning and the start of the fun part of the venture.

3. Accelerate through the ball (Execution)

Assuming that a golfer has correct alignment and backswing (see tips 1 and 2), then he or she can confidently attack the ball and enjoy the feeling of the clubface compressing it at top speed.

Similarly, if you have carried out proper initiation and planning of the idea, then you should be in a position to enjoy the exhilaration of seeing your team perform with talent and speed.

A golf tip to maintain focus at speed is to imagine two golf balls in a straight line behind your own ball and to try to extend the golf swing to hit all three golf balls.

A similar tip is to maintain focus on the business case by overcommunication during this expensive and critical stage of the venture. A simple way to do this is to continually ask the same three questions, mantra-like:

  1. Who is paying for this work?
  2. How will they get the money back?
  3. When will they get the money back?

If the answer to any of these questions varies from those obtained during the initiation of the idea, then it may be necessary to pause and initiate realignment again.

Article source: http://www.portfolio.com/resources/2012/04/02/frank-ryle-compares-golf-to-project-management


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