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Project Management According to Napoleon

Napoleon Bonaparte is recognized as one of the great leaders in world history – but what about his project management savvy? This pdf by Jerry Manas, PMP, examines how Napoleon managed to conquer much of the world and move huge amounts of resources and personnel across the globe. According to Manas, it all comes down to inteillgent project management. One of the points is one that many project managers recognizes today: being the force behind barrier removal. Napoleon was relentless in getting his army and navy the tools and resources they needed with as little delay as possible. He was, in a sense, balancing the same challenges of modern day project managers: Napoleon recognized that one of the chief goals of a project manager (or any leader for that matter) is to be a “barrier remover”. This could mean fighting political battles, assuring the proper training for your staff, fighting to dispense with the usual red tape, simplifying anything that is complex, in essence removing anything that could be considered a barrier to your team succeeding. In addition, it’s important to remember not to be a barrier yourself. When scheduling meetings and asking for paperwork,you must continually ask yourself “am I wasting anyone’s time?” Napoleon was also clear on his communications – he made sure that everyone was on the same page before a battle so that finger pointing would be limited after the battle was complete. Soliciting stakeholder feeback early is a great way to make sure that there are no objecting voices after the project is well under way. The pdf goes on to list the importance of recognition (something that Napoleon was very interested in for veterans), the value of historical data, and recognition of what role each person has to play. Manas does, however, come to challenge Napoleon in one area: motivation. Napoleon suggests motivation can come from playing mind games: tell your army that the other army’s force is smaller than what it is, exaggerate the strength of your own forces, etc. This is a dangerous thing to do, as lying to your team is always a bad idea. Instead, try to inspire motivation through confidence in the plan and in your team, and take an interest in them outside of work. In particular, how healthy they feel and how much stress they are handling. If a team member has been under lots of strain recently, pulling them off and giving them some time to breathe serves the purpose of making them more productive and building a team that understands you have thier best interest in mind (which also motivates them to do better).

About Matthew Kabik

Matthew Kabik is the former Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He worked at Computer Aid, Inc. from 2008 to 2014 in the Harrisburg offices, where he was a copywriter, swordsman, social media consultant, and trainer before moving into editorial.

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