One of the most famous stories in the mythology of Rock’n’Roll is about Van Halen and the brown M&Ms. What was it all about? And what lesson does it hold for Project Managers?
This video is safe for viewing in the workplace.This is learning, so, sit back and enjoy
Van Halen was a legendary 1980s rock band that toured with epic amounts of kit. Each tour was a mammoth project. Heck, each gig was a huge project, with get-in and get-out times of 8-10 hours.
But the mythology doesn’t end there.
Have you heard the story of front-man Dave Lee Roth’s insistence on the catering rider? (A rider is a specific add-on to the contract)
Buried in all the contractual nitty-gritty was this line, in capitals:
M&M’s (WARNING: ABSOLUTELY NO BROWN ONES)
And the penalty was forfeiture of the contract at full cost!
Especially when Roth deliberately trashed green rooms if there were brown M&Ms in the bowl. (A ‘green room’ is where the performers relax before and after a concert).
…is good project management.
In Project Management, we look for leading indicators of problems ahead. This was his. Inattention to detail means problems. The huge technical contract rider is a checklist of everything the promotor needed to do to make the concert work… and safely.
One mistake, and lives could be lost. They were dealing with huge kit and high-power electrics.
I love this story because…
…if you follow them.
Two quotes from Atul Gawande, in his book, ‘The Checklist Manifesto’:
In emergency situations, even the most expert practitioners can make any range of mistakes that result from inattention or bypassing steps that they deem to be nonessential.Atul Gawande: The Checklist Manifesto
Checklists seem to provide a protection against such failures. They remind us of the minimum necessary steps and make them explicit. They not only offer the possibility of verification, but also instill a kind of discipline of higher performance.Atul Gawande: The Checklist Manifesto
A Solid Toolset to Give You High Confidence of Project Success
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I asked Project Managers in a couple of forums what material things you need to have, to do your job as a Project Manager. They responded magnificently. I compiled their answers into a Kit list. I added my own.
Note that the links are affiliated.
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Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.
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