success looks like. Otherwise, they will disengage and
will allocate their time to other initiatives. You want all
attention focused on the project. Can you really do anything else when you are at a rock concert?
KEEPING THE TEAM ENGAGED
A common complaint you hear in business is one
about the lack of communication among leadership
and team members. However, keeping the team engaged in the project is more than communication; it
is really about maintaining the momentum. Be sure
to celebrate mid-term milestones and recognize individual and team accomplishments.
It is also critical to be “real” with the team when
facing current realities and challenges. The audience
has their favorite songs and each person likes different aspects of the show, so utilize a variety of ways
to connect with the team and stakeholders. Lastly,
sometimes less is more and you don’t need to smother participants with communications, but activities
need to be relevant, show progress and be pointed in
the right direction.
A great concert doesn’t just happen, and an artist
doesn’t just walk up to the venue and start rocking out.
It takes months of planning by a number of people for
a two-hour show from the logistics, marketing, staging
and lighting, wardrobe, and so forth. The artists lay out
the set list to spread out the popular songs and ensure
there is a good flow from start to finish.
Your project will also take months of planning by
yourself and others. It takes more than just the project
manager to execute a successful project, and you can’t
do it alone. There will be discovery, business case analysis, impact assessments and pre-project planning before you even launch the project. Enlist executive sponsors and ensure all the required functions will provide
the resources and time it is really going to require.
The vast majority of popular music follows a verse
and chorus structure, with the repetitive chorus communicating the theme of the song. When artists play
live, they can stop singing and let the crowd take over,
because the chorus is always simple and easy to sing.
This crowd participation analogy applies to your pro-
ject. Can your stakeholders recite your key messages if
you were to give them the microphone? The messages
have to be clear, relevant, and compelling enough to
get behind. My clients always request the most simple
and intuitive communications for their teams, and if the
mark is missed, communications are rewritten.
Even the most popular bands have to give cues to
the crowd, clapping their hands above their heads,
encouraging the audience to join them. The stage
crew flashes the lights on the crowd, prompting them
to react. As the project lead, you also must proactively engage your team members and key stakeholders when you need them to take an active role and
On the flip side, artists also sprinkle some softer
songs into their set list and carefully time the intermissions. Your project will have quiet times when you
need to regroup and rest in preparation for the next big
milestone. It is important to plan for how you are going to manage the project lulls and workload intensive
times. Celebrate the successes along the way, and give
your team an intermission if required, so they can be
more focused in the future.
Van Morrison is the only artist that I am aware of
that can get away with just playing the songs on stage
and not sharing a story or spending some time talking to the crowd. Your project is also a social outlet;
you want your project team and stakeholders to enjoy
working on it. Ensure that you make time for team
outings and opportunities for people to get to know
each other on a personal level. The project team is establishing strong connections and a network that will
last long beyond the conclusion of the project.
So the next time you have a chance to go to a live
show or listen to a live album, pay attention to the
crowd. Look at how the artists have organized their
set list, the props they use, and how they are managing the audience. Look around at all the production
planning, and think about how you can lead your next
project like a rock concert.
Tony Mauro is a Principal at RAS & Associates, a
successful Denver-based strategy and management
consulting firm striving to exemplify “Consulting
Reimagined” with a talented team comprised of seasoned
professionals with diverse industry experience. Mauro
partners with Fortune 500 organizations to improve their
supply chain processes and capabilities. The author can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.