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Project Management and Fitness Prescription

By Anne Keckler | February 5, 2008

Card SharkHow is fitness prescription like project management? That’s the question I was asking myself last night as I listened to a presentation by Dr. James T. Brown, PMP at a meeting of the Tallahassee Chapter of the Project Management Institute, which I attend every other month with my husband, Raymond Keckler, a Project Management Professional. Wikipedia defines Project Management thus:

Project management is the discipline of organizing and managing resources (e.g. people) in a way that the project is completed within defined scope, quality, time and cost constraints. A project is a temporary and one-time endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service, which brings about beneficial change or added value. This property of being a temporary and one-time undertaking contrasts with processes, or operations, which are permanent or semi-permanent ongoing functional work to create the same product or service over and over again. The management of these two systems is often very different and requires varying technical skills and philosophy, hence requiring the development of project managements.

The title of Dr. Brown’s presentation last night was Risk Management – Texas Holdem Tactics for the Project Manager. Both great poker players and great project managers know how to make probabilistic assessments, and they know human behavior.

So how does this relate to fitness prescription?

When I work with a client, I must help the client assess the risks of this new project. Whether it be to lose weight, or to gain muscle, or to improve one’s wellness in some specific way, there will be potential pitfalls, setbacks, obstacles. In project management terms, these would be considered “risks.” Risk is defined as:

… an uncertain event or condition that if it occurs has a positive or negative effect on at least one project objective.

He went on to discuss the difference between issues, which are actionable, and risks, which have uncertainty associate with them. When he mentioned the three predominant risk attitudes – risk neutral, risk avoiding, and risk seeking – I thought of what I’d recently read about motivation styles.

I’m still pondering everything Dr. James said last night. I’m not a project manager, so the terminology is new to me. Although I can’t use project management software for my clients, the information can likely be applied to my work as I help my clients create a plan of action to achieve their goals. He is a very entertaining speaker, so if this subject interests you, I’d recommend you attend one of his presentations if you get the opportunity.

The biggest thing I took away from the meeting last night was the reminder to take the time beforehand to determine the potential risks and issues, and to determine strategies to deal with them when they arise.

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