I really enjoyed watching the Open Championship last weekend. It is the oldest golf championship in the world, dating back several hundred years. The Open Championship, which is known more completely as the British Open Championship, draws the best golfers from all over the world to courses in England and Scotland in mid-summer every year to compete for the Championship.
Those of us who live in the United States are very accustomed to watching the PGA Tour golf matches in the U.S. And the golfers who compete on the PGA Tour also come from all over the world. It has become a very international sporting event in the last few years because golf is so popular in many places in the world. But sometimes, I really get the impression that American golfers think they invented the game of golf. Why do I have that feeling? Because when they recall the great matches they have played over the years, they inevitably draw on simply their experiences in telling their stories of how the matches played out. When a golfer tried a new approach, or changed the way he putted or stroked the ball, he always says what it meant to him to be able to play at such a high level of expertise. There are even some golfers in America who are idolized by their fellow golfers for the number of championships they have won or how they played the game. This is great to listen to on TV because it really makes a good storytelling event.
But I can’t help but feel when I listen to these golfers in the U.S. that they inevitably feel that they invented the game. There can be no other.
But last week when I watched the Open Championship from Muirfield in Scotland, on one occasion, they interviewed a Scottish golf announcer who had played golf for close to 50 years all over the world. As he began to relate what happened at the Open Championship ten and twenty years ago, I really had my eyes opened. The game of golf was invented by many people, and matured over time, through the sharing of best practices across the globe.
How many of you project managers feel that you invented project management? That there can be no other authority on how it can be practiced, or on how it can be improved (except for your own opinions and trials and errors)? It’s that very attitude that limits most project managers from improving their own behavior when engaged in project management practices. They think they invented the game.
So the next time you step up to the tee and start a new project, just remember that there are thousands of others project managers who have gone before you, and who are living the day-to-day PM decisions that you are facing each day. Stepping back occasionally, and looking around at what others think is doable and achievable and within capabilities is worth doing.
You might even invent a new way of working that others can emulate.