Sunday, August 31, 2008

Poker and Project Management

These two are at the opposite end of the spectrum. PM is about planning, critical paths and resource allocation. It is logical, analytical and linear. Poker is about intuition, betting big when opportunity’s ripe, reading situations and constantly readjusting.

Knowing how to do both is critical. Poker shows you a lot about someone. How they manage their emotions, act when the cards fall their way, act when they’re back is up against a wall. In PM parlance, how they manage risk and success.

More importantly, you see how people react under pressure, inside and outside their circles of competence. Intuition benefits you within your circle of competence. In friendly games, dealing and calling the game circulates. You can’t always play your game, but you can pick which games, which situations and how much you bet.

If you really only know five-card stud, you’re best off betting conservatively in Omaha or Pirate’s Booty, but then going big when the situation is right in five-card stud. Sticking with what you know gives your intuition its edge.

You’ll never win if you don’t play, but you won’t win consistently if you don’t play smart. Poker compresses all of life’s lessons into a brief, pressure packed situation. Is there a better way to learn about people?

How many PMs play poker with the team? Isn’t that what you’re doing on a project?

Photo credit: Wiseacre_Photo

1 comment:

Josh said...

I like the project management analogy, Andrew. If we take it further, we could imagine our familiar opponents around the table such as Mr. Risk, Sir Stakeholder Problemo, and Miss Ivana Blamesomeone. How will we manage to get their chips out where they will provide more value?

We'll need to be able to read them very well indeed, and combine some formal strategies with our intuition.

Josh Nankivel
The Art of Project Management