Project Plan The Way Canada’s NHL Teams Do

Project Plan The Way Canada’s NHL Teams Do


An NHL season’s plotted in stages, with goals, resources and managed expectations. Sound familiar?

Go Canucks go! Carry on, Canadiens! The 2018 NHL season’s in force. With it comes valuable lessons on how teams design their tactics, gather resources and leverage collaboration. Seems a hell of a lot like project planning.

Your own projects won’t start with a puck drop in October, or end with a Stanley Cup in June. Yet no matter if yours takes a few days or more than eight months, follow the steps Canada’s hockey squads do.

Get Ice-Clear On Objectives
If every team dreamed of winning the trophy, almost all would have their hopes slashed brutally. Maybe Toronto’s Leafs have a chance to go all the way this year with their new star Tavares. Other teams, however, have humbler aims. Montreal’s Habs are shooting to rebuild. The Calgary Flames are looking at consolidating their progress.

What’s your project’s objective? Describe it in a short sentence. That determines all your next moves.

Set Gritty Goals
Project plans win or lose based on meeting targets. Every goal has to be specific and not plucked from some fantasy league. Each one has a due-by date. People and departments assigned to the tasks are accountable.

Likewise in the NHL. Coaches use player stats as yardsticks. Take Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers. Last year this phenom led the league with 108 points. Betcha he’s set his sights on higher.

Wrangle Resources
Budgets and scarce talent influence a project’s success. Holds true for you same as in the rink. 

Too bad you can’t cough up $77 million the way the Leafs did for disrupter Tavares. Instead, it comes down to tradeoffs and what’s available. Choose smartly. Ottawa’s Senators gave away two-time Norris Trophy champ Karlsson. Picked up a gaggle of prospects and draft picks. Time’ll tell if they make the playoffs.

Make Collaboration Count
Tough to finish complex projects on your own. Johnny Gaudreau of the Flames didn’t score no 84 points without help galore from teammates. 

Think acting like a prima donna’s gonna glide you past the blue line? You’ll need to interact with co-workers, other departments, maybe suppliers also. Flip them a shout out now and then. They’ll appreciate credit for the assists.

Manage Expectations
While skating your way down the ice, there’s bound to be bumps. Call the big ones out in advance. Let the boss know where you anticipate turf defence and goalies blocking your shots.

You might need to do some fancy blading to swoosh by obstacles. Or prevail on your boss to referee. A pro’s tip: no one likes last minute surprises.

Publicize Victories
Hockey’s constantly covered in the press. Not so your projects. You’ve got to keep your ‘coach’ in the loop. There’ll be points scored and goals against to report.

Make sure to identify solutions for any interference. Also, highlight wins along the way. You can be confident the Winnipeg Jets will if they triumph over Nashville again, en route to the Western Conference final.

They’ll also be pacing themselves, sound advice when managing drawn-out projects