Have you ever heard of Kung Fu project management?

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The author spent the first part of her career working in IT and IT Project Management in the oil industry and investment banking on complex global projects involving the management of outsourced project teams. She now runs a digital marketing company with particular expertise in technical SEO and Content Marketing.

So we’ve got to grips with agile, understood the meaning of scrum, know what PRINCE2 is all about and generally have all the project management techniques down to a tee. However, there is one more description of project management that you may not have heard about yet: Kung Fu project management.

OK, so you may not see it in your textbooks or find it discussed on your PMP course, but the art of Kung Fu really does help to describe some styles of project management with much more clarity than you might think. See if you can spot your own style of project management with our Kung Fu breakdown.

  1. Crane style

Project managers who adopt the crane style are often made to stick out their necks. These guys are risk takers, who often act without a care for the consequences. Cranes are great allies in an environment where ‘out of the box’ thinking is required, but sometimes their ability to deliver on time is squashed by their unrealistic expectations.

  1. Dragon style

We’ve all worked with a dragon project manager. These people like to breathe fire wherever they go, shouting orders and barking instructions at their team. They rarely get involved in the delivery of the project on the ground, preferring instead to sit in their high tower using fear as a motivator for action. Dragons can be good at whipping a team into a frenzy of activity, but in the long run will not elicit any loyalty from their team.

  1. Monkey style

Fun and friendly, monkey managers are everyone’s best buddy. They put relationships before the success of the project, and whilst it might be great fun to work under them, it can come at a cost as they are often too scared of falling out with people to come down hard when tasks are not delivered.

  1. Snake style

Slippery project managers who adopt the snake style are often sneaky about the management of the project. Behind the scenes they are facing major issues, but when reporting upwards they always give their status as green. They are great at talking their way out of missed deadlines and deliverables, but are often senior management favourites thanks to their charm. Watch out if you manage like a snake, because your team will soon see through you and you’ll lose your credibility.

  1. Cat style

The cat manager is reluctant to leap before he looks. They like to spend time gathering all the information they can muster before making any decision, and love to spend time analysing, researching and evaluating things. The upside is they make very well informed decisions. The downside is they are very slow to act and therefore can often miss opportunities in fast paced environments.


Becoming a Kung Fu master of your own projects

Traditional King Fu masters are usually either a total master of one specific style, or have a good understanding of a range of techniques. To be a hard hitting Kung Fu PM, you need to master a range of styles and techniques, and to know when to apply them to relevant situations. You need to practice your skills and focus on real discipline in order to make the most of your techniques, but even when you’ve got your skills as tight as possible, don’t be surprised if the odd unexpected punch still gets through.

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Project management has developed into a fully-fledged chartered profession since the granting of the Royal Charter in the UK to The Association for Project Management (APM) in 2017. Training courses for project managers were already available and highly popular to help people gain professional project management accreditation, but with this wider recognition of the profession it is now seen as a desirable career path for many. Whilst the APM has the coveted Royal Charter and continues to develop its APM PMQ (formerly the APMP) programmes, there are also other internationally recognised qualifications that continue to be highly regarded such as PMP and PRINCE2.

Organisations have become increasingly project-focused in this era of rapidly emerging new technologies and they value the expertise that comes with experienced and fully qualified project teams and managers. By investing in their project management capability businesses can be confident of delivering their new projects in time and on budget more often and more successfully. Many major corporation are now training their people to have the right project management qualifications as well as relevant experience, through internal Learning & Development (L&D) programmes; or by using external project management training providers.

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