Project management skills are not as arcane as you might think. I found this lovely little article on slaw.ca: it likens sailing knowledge to the ability to guide a project. You don’t have the time to become world-class, but any skipper benefits from learning to steer straight. Then, if monsters appear, you’ve got a hope of steering clear.
It’s Metaphor Time
[As a sailor myself,] I can see that the person helming the sailboat isn’t very skilled. His (or her) sails are poorly trimmed, and he’s steering neither a straight nor terribly effective course. He rolled up his sails 30 seconds after I took the picture and turned to what sailors call the iron jib – the engine.
On the sailing skills scale, the skipper was, let’s say, a 2. He could sail the boat safely, I trust, but not effectively or efficiently.
If he somehow moved his skill level up to even a 4, he could have … [made it home] by dinnertime under quiet and elegant sail rather than with a noisy engine running. (No one buys a sailboat because they want to motor from place to place!) He didn’t need to be an 8 or 9 or 10, able to win races against tough competition in miserable weather. He just needed to be a 4 to sail a lot more often…
What Does It Mean?
The best project managers are 8s and 9s and 10s. That’s what it takes to build an airplane or erect a skyscraper. In the legal world, however, project leaders are more like that midafternoon sailor than those 8s and 9s and 10s.