No doubt if you are a sports fan of any type, you heard that this past weekend that the American and European teams competed for the Ryder Cup Golf Championship at the Medinah Country Club in Chicago.  This three-day event alternates each year between a European golf site and a United States golf site.  The teams are chosen by a captain from the best PGA golfers from the United States and Europe each year.

In the championship, which was completed yesterday, the European team was down 8 to 4 after the first day of competition.  But, they battled back to retain the Ryder Cup, which they had won last year in Europe.  Saturday’s and Sunday’s rounds and competition were very intense, and a crowd estimated at 40,000 spectators was on hand each day to cheer on their respective teams.

What can project managers learn from the Ryder Cup Championship?  

Even though golf and project management are very different, there are some conclusions that we can draw from the actions and performance of the participants that would give us some good insight for future project endeavors.

First, the selection of each team is very significant to the overall capabilities and performance of the teams.  Each captain must choose complementing competencies and capabilities to make sure that all situations are covered.

Second, “resilience” is extremely valuable as a factor for competition.  Being down early in the competition did not deter the European team from being confident and aggressive in their approach to the Saturday and Sunday rounds.  “Resilience” means the ability to focus on an end goal or objective while absorbing all short term defeats and continuing to focus on the end goal.

Third, matching capabilities and competencies to the challenge or task at hand is very important.  On the last day of Ryder Cup competition, when the European team still needed to make up much ground, their captain chose his players very judiciously, according to their capability in “singles” play, which was the format of Day Three.  His best “singles” players were stacked at the front so the team could get off to the best start possible on Day Three.  Likewise with project managers, understanding strengths and capabilities and when to apply them most successfully is a great asset.

Fourth, I have to think that each captain chose his team’s participants because of their “work ethic” and “authenticity.”  No commentator on the Golf Channel would ever make so bold a statement but that is my statement.  I believe “work ethic” plays a tremendous factor in success, whether you are a golfer or a project manager, or a baseball player.  One of the reasons I follow Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees so closely is because I think he exhibits an outstanding “work ethic” towards his professional sport.  And what is “authenticity” really?  WYSIWYG.  What You See is What You Get.  Remember that old expression.  When a person appears to be the same way and performs the same way whenever you encounter them, I believe it means a great deal to success and repeated outcomes of an action.

So as a project manager, how do you stack up against this list of factors?  Review this list occasionally and share it with others.  I will bet that you will get very good feedback and agreement with many of these principles.

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