Today’s projects become increasingly complex.  We are faced with endless challenges, have to juggle thousands of different and often conflicting expectations and desires, have to meet deadlines, deliver on time, exercise pressure on those people who do not or cannot deliver as expected – or vice versa, feel the pressure other people put on us.  In situations like these it is easy to be overwhelmed.  We are stressed, tired, in a bad mood, frustrated and maybe just burned out.  The “team” does not deserve the word “team” as daily work is characterized by a low morale, disruptive arguments and a negative group atmosphere.  The individual and team miseries are reflected in the poor delivery quality and missing or incomplete project results.

In situations like these what we thrive for simple and effective resolutions.  What we need is either the help and advice from someone from outside who can guide us through this chaos or an inspiration how to do so by ourselves.

The philosophy of Zen offers many insights which achieve this.  In simple, easy to understand language it outlines avenues to find our lost individual and project identity, overcome burdens and master challenges, reduce complexity and guide us to personal success.

The question is how Zen guidelines can be applied in a project setting.  These days I am preparing a lecture which answers this question.  I will introduce 10 Zen insights and translate them into the language of project management.  Specifically:

1.              Project identity:

  • The need and value of understanding, accepting and embracing our past, present and future: Project motivation and vision
  • Know, accept and embrace your project purpose

2.              Timeliness in a time-sensitive world

  • Creative freedom and solving problems from the distance

3.              The power of vision

  • How SMART project objectives without a vision kills creativity, risks results and may lead to failure
  • The need for open goals
  • New goal setting

4.              Overcoming Angst and the need for action

  • Relax
  • Take responsibility vs. blame others

5.              Individualism and hierarchy

  • External and internal success
  • Personalize project success

6.              Leadership and motivation

  • Unleash guiding energies
  • Solution-orientation

7.              Simplicity

  • Lost in the jungle of details
  • Reducing complexity

8.              Truth and illusion

  • Perceptions are more important than facts
  • A simple truth is no more than an assumption

9.              Team play

  • Enjoy the game of projects

10.           Passion

  • The fire which sets you free
  • Talents, passion and longing

Zen can help inspire us personally and how to interact effectively with our team, customers and stakeholders.  Applying Zen in projects makes it easier to build teams, perform on a high level and deliver results which delight our customers and teams alike.  It thus helps us and the team to evolve into a performing unit and excel.

I will elaborate on each of these insights in my upcoming blog posts.  So, stay tuned.