3 Project Implementation Lessons from "Jurassic World"
Like many movie-goers, my husband and I love action blockbuster movies like the Jurassic Park series. From the first viewing, I couldn't help but fall in love with one movie in particular, Jurassic World. To me, this movie showcases some key lessons for any project or product launch. Fortunately, the missteps that end in Isla Nublar being abandoned or dinosaurs on the lose are avoidable.
1. Lesson #1: Every project implementation must involve collaboration with “people on the ground” from the beginning of the project. In Jurassic World, which centers around the launch of a new genetically designed dinosaur due to customer demand for “bigger, faster, scarier!”, engagement of Owen Brady, the trainer of velociraptors, happens too late in the process. Once one of the leaders of the project finally brings him in to see the new dinosaur, she is annoyed that his feedback flags the risks of such a dinosaur, rather than celebrating it. Feedback from functional subject matter experts may not always be “fun” to hear. That feedback is critical, however, to understanding the impact of a solution in the “real world” and not just in the control of test environments. Involve functional subject matter experts early by giving them a project overview, asking for feedback, and establishing relationships. While they are often the busiest people, their feedback is critical.
2. Lesson #2: Contingency plans must be tested with realistic parameters BEFORE they are needed. In Jurassic World, once the new predator dinosaur escapes, a team is released to capture the dinosaur using non-lethal weapons. Putting aside the issue of the animal’s rights, one thing becomes clear in this scenario: the “training” this team had had not prepared them for success. Perhaps the training used a simulator with “a lesser” dinosaur or perhaps their emergency protocols were updated to consider the advanced capabilities of this new dinosaur. Bottom line: business process plans, rollback procedures and disaster recovery drills have to be practiced before “Go Live” with as realistic inputs as possible. It is easy to miss this step as it is often toward the end of the finish line where the pressure is on to launch. The idea, however, is to practice these procedures and make them as reliable as possible – and hopefully they are not needed!
3. Lesson #3: At the end of the day, relationships will make or break project success. As Owen Brady says about the raptors, “It’s not about control… it’s a relationship based on respect.” As a project leader, it is critical build relationships with all the stakeholders you interact with. There will be disagreements, and tradeoffs, but at the end of the day, successful projects have teams that respect and appreciate each other’s strengths. In the case of Jurassic World, one relationship with the raptor Blue, ends up saving the lives of the main characters.
All of these lessons seem obvious and are often not intentionally ignored. The pressure to execute a project on time is real. The key is to make trade offs in other areas that do not jeopardize long term success.