You could attend a 3 week executive masterclass to learn the principles of project management. To learn about the practical stuff could take you a lifetime and involve learning from expensive mistakes as well as successes. So, is there a way to learn about Project Management quickly and without risk by examining the spoof rockumentary ‘This is Spinal Tap’. Of course there is! 🙂 Let’s examine the classic ‘Stonehenge’ sequence to get us started:
It’s obvious to me as a Taphead and sad business consultant with an MBA that the Spinal Tap sequence is a sorry tale of poor project management… 🙂 Just before the sequence starts a drawing of Stonehenge is drawn on a napkin by Nigel Tuffnell, the group’s guitarist and handed to the scenery designer. This is unwittingly taken by the designer as a definitive project specification. All the project resources are committed to the ‘model’ based on the dimensions (in inches). The band is then forced to execute their strategy using a micro Stonehenge model, due to lack of budget to correct the mistake. They attempt to accommodate the mistake in size by using dwarfs and bringing the Stonehenge model down from the heavens, but it is clear that they have failed. You may rightly say “Well, this is a Hollywood comedy movie and nothing like real life”. Au contraire, as a I break into French, as if to make the point seem more important – if I had a dollar for every company that has told me they have wasted millions on poorly specified projects that resulted in delivery of the wrong thing, I would have retired and you would not be reading this blog. The comparison of the ‘project management gospel according to Business and Spinal Tap’ summarises this:
Spinal Tap Business Lesson # 1. If you are experiencing problems in executing a project, look back several stages to the project definition or proposal. Fuzzy goals produce fuzzy action.
I had my own ‘Spinal Tap’ moment when I made a large investment of money and time in ‘cult punk rocker and two hit wonder’ John Otway’s World Tour, having done corporate gigs with John at Pfizer and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). This was a wonderful idea to live the Rock’n’Roll dream on a record breaking world tour, calling at the greatest venues on the planet with a birth, death and car crash all in two weeks, but not necessarily in that order. The idea was great, so what went wrong? Poor execution of the strategy killed the project dead. Watch the trailer video to see the essence of the project idea:
Read more about the comedy of errors that was John Otway’s world tour at The Real Spinal Tap Tour. What was the project management lesson?
Spinal Tap Business Lesson # 2. Inspiration is essential for innovation, but perspiration is even more important to turn your ideas into profit! Bright ideas are plentiful but people who are prepared to sweat it out are rarer.
Check out our seminar offerings based on project management lessons from the John Otway World Tour at The F Word. A recent article about the self-proclaimed ‘Patron Saint of Failure’ can be seen in The Independent. Check out our posts on real heavy rock bands – Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Prince and our evening out with Bernie Torme.
My new book ‘Punk Rock People Management – A no-nonsense guide to hiring, inspiring and firing staff’ is available for FREE as a pdf. Please contact me directly here or via the Punk Rock People Management webpage for your copy. A beautiful full colour print version and a KINDLE version are is also available.
We’ll finish with another classic Spinal Tap song, Big Bottom, a metaphorical tale about the bottom line…
Postscript – I was just sent this additional video by my Web guru Nick Power of ‘The Folksmen’ – faces seem familiar?