5 spider tips that will make you a better project manager

To be a great project manager take a moment to think about how you could be more spider...

Autumn really is the season of the spider. This photo was taken in our garden this morning - and I had ALOT of them to choose from. These beautiful structures always remind me of the analogy my wise friend and mentor, Jon Cook, was keen to use for successful project management: be at the centre of the spider’s web. It's such a strong analogy, and these are my top five spider tips for successful project management. Remember YOU are the spider!

  1. Every web has its own unique pattern but the underlying structure is a simple and solid foundation for the rest to hang on;

  2. The web has a clear purpose;

  3. The spider seems so calm and still at the web’s centre; yet it is alert to any pressure, change in tension, damage or interference;

  4. Holes are quickly fixed and while the web may take a different shape as a result of the repair, the purpose remains true and clear;

  5. The spider knows every part of its web: it knows where the weak points are; where the tension is highest; which parts are performing most successfully. Regular, light-touch checks give it all the information it needs. There is no need to waste energy by constantly moving around the web; in fact, this would get in the way of the web’s purpose and make it less successful in achieving its goal.

This is a great approach to take to complex projects that need sophisticated project management. The best project and programme managers I have worked with are calm and in control even in the most difficult circumstances. They know their stakeholders, they understand what’s needed for their particular environment and they always focus on the project’s end goal. In short, they are highly attuned to their spider senses.

Do you know any spider PMs? Does the spider analogy resonate with you? Which other animals spring to mind? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Caroline Doran is a project consultant and coach working with busy senior leaders to turn their strategic ideas into operational realities.

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