20 Nov

What Project Managers can learn from Motocross Roadbooks

Motocross is a fast sport. The driver must react very fast on changing road conditions, curves, hills and impediments on the road. To be prepared for that, the driver inspects the road and add hints for breaking, gear changes and other information to his map. The map becomes an individual roadbook for that course for the driver.
Can you imagine what value such a roadbook would have, if the course will be changed during the race?

In projects in the world of change, uncertainty and surprises, our race course is NOT stable. Our race will not take just 2 hours, we run for much longer projects. The road conditions and even the road itself is changing in the timeframe of one year project duration. We must decide on each crossing what direction to take and have to inspect the road conditions during the ride.
A roadmap (the project plan) is not a fully detailed plan of all the road conditions for our one year project. We plan the goal, the cities we want to cross, but not the turn and gear we will drive on 6 month. That planning work for this kind of detail in that distant future becomes waste.

Learnings out of that sample for IT project manager could be:
Plan small junks instead of the whole project in full detail.
Do rolling planning: the near future very detailed, but the long time future much less detailed.
Do not plan as an outside coach (Project Manager) for the experienced driver (Team member) what that team member should do. Explain your expectations of the expected result (race time of 56 min) instead of explaining all the tasks that has to be done. Empower your team to take responsibility and bring the expertise of how to reach this common goal.

The learning for Project Manager out of the motocross roadbook is:
Be the servant leader of your team, bring the right people together and align them by purpose. Give them the space, so they can take responsibility and write their own good road-book for themselves to reach the common goal as a team.

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