We all know finding colourful or meaningful analogies for a situation help us make our point or position it in terms that people can relate too. It’s useful for converting conceptsguardrails or things we might not ‘get’, into processes we understand and can see the value in.

A long drive on a highway led to thoughts of the similarities between guardrails and project managers, and some parallel purposes:

  • Lines of business, roles, or functions – like lanes of traffic, are kept divided (thankfully!) by guardrails, much the same as the project manager keeps the distinction between project participants or responsibilities clear
  • If you follow the guardrail you will stay on track … the project manager also keeps things moving in the right direction
  • Guardrails can be like an early warning system, letting you know there is potentially dangerous area ahead – just like a project manager planning for risk
  • In the event of an accident, guardrail barriers can help minimize or contain the extent of the disaster. Project managers also have a risk mitigation plan for when catastrophes occur.
  • Project managers, like guardrails, can keep you from going over a cliff. PM’s plan for the worst and are there to keep something really bad from happening

Guardrails, while not sexy, are definitely purposeful and are there to help make your trip from A to B less hazardous. Project managers are there to take things from start to finish … and keep the project from going off the ‘rails’!

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