You heard it – Winter is coming.
The new season for Game of Thrones is almost here, and we couldn’t be more excited.
Game of Thrones (GoT) is probably one of the best TV shows to ever come out. Having millions of fans all over the world, you can deeply relate to Game of Thrones due to the brilliant display of human struggles with passion, power, scheming and irrationality, ultimately finding its way to war.
It is so relatable, even the business world can relate to it, especially project managers. So, this got us thinking. What are some great project management lessons we can learn from Game of Thrones?
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Game of Thrones (GoT) + Project Management = The Best Project Management Lessons
Although entirely fictional, Game of Thrones (GoT) teaches us so much about the corporate world today. Business is a warzone, and board rooms, round tables are our battlegrounds.
Here are the 6 best Project Management lessons to learn from Game of Thrones in 2020.
1. Insight is crucial. Know your key players.
Lord Varys, the Master of Whisperers, keeps an integrated network of whisperers to stay in the loop on everything that goes around in the realm.
There are lessons to learn from Lord Varys, the Master of Whisperers, who operates and keeps his stature through a well-integrated network of spies.
He shows how important it is to have insight about everyone who is on the battlefields of projects – your allies and enemies, friends and foes, partners and competition.
As a project manager, you need to be well-aware of all the stakeholders involved. Those who can approve your project, work with you on it and those who might not be a good fit for your project team.
2. There is magic in suspense. Be ready for change.
Don’t be stuck with old ways when change is inevitable. Follow what is relevant and what works now, not what used to.
Lord Eddard Stark is a man of principles and following processes by the book. “Our way is the old way”, he says, referring to the ways of the First Men. He wasn’t wrong – things were working well in the relatively stable environment under his Lordship in Winterfell.
But, it turned out to be a disaster when he had to face the extreme, politically-charged setting of King’s Landing. As a result? Eddard Stark was labeled a traitor and executed.
Project Management is the same. This is the Agile era of doing things, and what works now might not tomorrow. You need to be adaptable as a project manager and welcome change whenever it is needed. After all, there is magic in suspense.
3. Bias is fatal. Maintain a balanced perspective.
It’s only but natural to get involved in your projects. You come up with an idea. You work day and night for it. Before you know it, you have got yourself sunk deep into it.
You fight for your idea, your project, your team. They are yours to claim. Getting involved is good. But to let it drive you over the limit isn’t.
Take a look at The Lady of Winterfell, Catelyn Stark. She loved her five children. So much so, it hazed her vision.
She would mistreat Jon Snow, her stepson, which led him to abandon his family. Later, after her son survived an assassination attempt, Catelyn arrested Tyrion Lannister of the House of Lannisters, without any evidence.
This infuriated the Lannisters. As a result, war broke out between two of the biggest Houses of Westeros, and revenge was the only motivation.
To say the least, focusing on a smaller aspect can put the entire project in danger. So, keep a balanced perspective and be neutral when dealing with your team, clients, the management and any other stakeholders involved.
4. War brings more harm than good. Pick your battles carefully.
There may be times you think something isn’t going right. You would like to take it up with the authorities or even resent the notion completely.
Voicing your opinion is good. However, you can’t fight every battle. Especially, if there is workspace politics involved and you feel the presence of biases and prejudices. You don’t want to be a part of it.
It may bring more harm than good. Like Theon Greyjoy from the Kingdom of the Iron Islands.
Theon Greyjoy was never satisfied. He took over Winterfell as the Starks marched South to attack King’s Landing. While he did manage to take over Winterfell, it caused heart-wrenching bloodshed and Theon was later captured and abused.
Sometimes, you might find matters that are pressing. It might be good to talk about them and sort things out rather than reacting aggressively. Pick your battles carefully.
5. Things don’t always work out. Have a Plan B.
We come from different backgrounds to work together.
Each has its own edge – a competitive advantage. It is imperative to know and define yours. But always have a backup.
Tyrion Lannister is of unusually short physical stature. So, when it comes to war, he is not of much help on the battleground. Bronn – Tyrion’s bodyguard and enforcer – fights Tyrion’s battles for him.
Project managers must make a lot of decisions. Some of them might not seem the best at the time.
Sometimes, you have to defer the project to an outsider with more muscle or to postpone it altogether until enough resources are available.
6. Everything works out in the end. Don’t rush things.
Stannis Baratheon knows that even with all his resources, he is not ready. But he doesn’t give up.
With a set of irrational decisions, Stannis finds himself deserted by half of his army when he attempts a siege on King’s Landing with his army that outnumbered the Lannisters 5:1.
With a single firelit arrow, Tyrion Lannister brings havoc to Stannis’s fleet. All his ships are destroyed by the wildfire, hundreds of his men are blown away in an instant.
Instead of retreating to fight another day, he proceeds with the battle. His haste leads to his doom and Stannis suffers one of the most terrible defeats in war.
It is never wise to rush a project. Everything will work out in the end – know your timeline, your team’s capabilities, and your budget. It is not wise to deplete any of the three to close things before they can.
So, these are the 6 best project management lessons to take away from Game of Thrones in 2020. We are excited about the new season starting April 14. Are you?
What project management lessons have you learned from Game of Thrones (GoT) as a project manager? Let us know in the comments below.