project leadership

In Jim Collins book, Great By Choice, he sought out to answer the question, why do some companies thrive in uncertainty and chaos while others do not? He and his team performed extensive research to answer this question and they were able to draw some surprising conclusions. They referred to companies that thrived as 10X companies. These companies performed ten times greater than similar companies in their industry.

One of the factors of the 10X companies was that they were fanatically disciplined. They stuck to their strategy that aligned with their mission. While other companies in their industries made risky changes to adjust to the conditions, the 10X companies did not.

A great example of fanatical discipline is the 20 mile march. Collins tells the story of two teams that made a journey in 1911 to the South Pole, one led by Ronald Amundsen, the other by Robert Scott. In this story, Amundsen’s team was successful while Scott’s team failed (all perished).

One of the key differences between the teams was that Amundsen’s team stuck to a 20 mile marching regiment each day. Even through the most brutal weather conditions, they continued to march. They were fanatically disciplined!

The concept of 20 mile march resonates with me as a technical project leader. Whether I’m working on a traditional or Agile project, I’ve seen how important it is to stay disciplined. For Agile projects this means continuing to always have your ceremonies, maintain velocity and hold each other accountable.  In a more waterfall style project, it means continuing to drive towards your milestones and stick to the plan.

So what’s your 20 mile march? Are you providing the leadership to help your teams stay disciplined?

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