Sorry, I’m not a sports fan, so I don’t care that much about the game.  However I’m from Philadelphia so I was interested enough to do some reading and then became interested when I saw a comparison in project management.   See, every project we work on needs management to keep it on scope, on budget, on time and within reasonable crafting hours per department.  On to the comparison…

Through some news reading, we learned the people of Minnesota spent $500,000,000 (half a billion dollars) to build this stadium and then make concessions that led to the ability to host the big game. Like every other city that throughout history has invested heavily in the NFL, they will almost certainly lose money, most likely a lot of money. 

So the question — why does this keep happening?  Let’s run a project comparison:

Why, despite volumes of well-documented evidence, do smart, well-intentioned people lead new projects like this? There’s a valuable collections of lessons here about our human behavior:

  1. The project is here. It’s happening. It’s yes or no. Someone can’t study it over a period of time and come back to a result. The project team creates a forcing function, one that quickly turns the decision into support or opposition.
  2. The project is detailed. Are there other ways that the city of Minneapolis could have better invested five hundred million dollars? Probably yes.  They could have created more access, better education, stronger resources in technology, raised the job market? But there’s many alternatives versus just one that is detailed. 
  3. The end is near. This can’t be ongoing.  This won’t be delayed.  When your team builds a stadium, you get a stadium. When your city hosts a game, you get a game. That’s almost never true for the more important (but less urgent) alternatives.
  4. Your VIPs will be happy. High profile projects will attract businesses, vendors, politicians and celebrities that seek high profile opportunities.  They will be in your town, in your project space.  These folks often have more experience doing these projects, therefore they’re better at positioning and promotion that leads to continued progress.
  5. There’s loyalty and unity. “What do you mean you don’t support our city?”

The biggest takeaway is to recognize that at the point of human emotions and energy, a binder of accurate research has no chance of beating excitement and opportunity. If you want to get a project done, you can learn something from the ability of stadium builders. Their project often wins. 

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