Author: Ryan McClish

What My Kids Taught Me about Leading Project Teams

I lead delivery execution teams that create custom software. I’m accountable for the overall results and the delivery of projects. It wasn’t until I had kids that I realized how much I could learn from them about running projects. I have been a parent for around two years now, and my kids are still teaching me more and more every day. All I have to do is listen to them.

My son, Kaeden, is the older of two kids. From the beginning, my wife and I have consciously tried to provide structure and consistency for our little ones. When we brought Kaeden home, we setup schedules around everything from eating to sleeping. This helped us provide structure and set expectations right from the start. Although the first month or so none of this worked out as we planned, we found that if you keep at it, eventually your kids adapt the schedule you provide them. At some point things become like clock-work.

In a lot of ways you could compare our home life to a project plan: We know when things have to happen. If something changes we know ahead of time and make the appropriate adjustments.

In addition to the schedules, my wife and I wanted to create good habits for him. Our thinking was that if we set expectations early, then it would be much easier for Kaeden to adjust. For example, we wanted him to know that meals were eaten at the table … not in front of the TV set. When he was an infant we made sure that every night at dinner time he had his bottle at the table. As he grew older and was eating baby food, he ate dinner with us at the table. When both my wife and I were home, we ate breakfast and lunch at the table. This way he learned that eating was always done at the table.

While none of this is revolutionary, that doesn’t mean we didn’t have our struggles. We were simply making it up as we went along to avoid some of the struggles we have seen other couples have, like kids misbehaving at the table, throwing food or simply not eating.

We have had a fair amount of success with Kaeden. He has slept through the night since an early age. Putting him to bed is easy. He does not throw his food, except the occasional spill. He even folds his hands and joins a prayer before we eat.

Have you ever started a project doing all the right things only to have it go horribly wrong?

Things were going great! Life was good and our Kaeden was following the rules and schedules. Then, all of the sudden, he started behaving very badly at the dinner table. Instead of eating, he grabbed his food and dropped it on the floor. He threw tantrums, screaming and crying at the top of his lungs. This was not like