Making Your Bed: The Art of Technology Project Delivery

In the bestselling book “Make Your Bed” by Admiral William H. McRaven, the author shares valuable lessons learned from his Navy SEAL training that can be applied to everyday life. The lessons shared by Admiral McRaven, while rooted in military discipline, transcend their origins and offer profound insights into achieving success in any endeavor. One such endeavor that can benefit from these principles is technology project delivery. At Kiefer Consulting, we have refined our processes and focused on the simple things that set our project teams up for success. This brief blog explores how the principles outlined in “Make Your Bed” can be applied to the art of delivering successful technology projects. This blog will also share examples of how these principles are built into our processes at Kiefer Consulting.

Start with a Simple Task

In technology project delivery, starting with a simple task can set the tone for success. As Admiral McRaven states, “If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day.” Similarly, in project management, by tackling small, manageable tasks at the outset builds momentum and sets the project on the right path. Our first step in delivery is the “Initiation” phase. “Initiation” is essentially the kickoff of our project. During the kickoff we make sure that everyone is on the same page. This may seem like an obvious step, but this simple task is one of the most important steps in our entire process. Discovering that you lack stakeholder buy-in and cooperation later in project can set you down a very risky path.

Attention to Detail

Attention to detail holds significant importance in military operations and technology endeavors. Admiral McRaven underlines this principle, conveying, “If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.” In the realm of technology project management, neglecting minor details can lead to costly mistakes and delays. To guarantee project success, we have established procedures. By meticulously addressing every project aspect, from gathering requirements to testing and deployment, teams can proactively mitigate potential challenges.

Teamwork and Collaboration

Admiral McRaven emphasizes the importance of teamwork in achieving goals, stating, “No one can paddle alone.” In technology project delivery, effective collaboration among team members is crucial for overcoming obstacles and delivering outcomes. Just as Navy SEALs depend on one another for support and camaraderie, project teams must collaborate seamlessly to navigate challenges and achieve project goals. Our approach to each project emphasizes teamwork. Over the past 30 years, our success has been attributed to building teams that collaborate effectively and have strong chemistry. The team’s collective experience and cohesion on similar projects significantly contribute to project success.

Overcoming Adversity

Admiral McRaven’s insights from his time as a Navy SEAL highlight the significance of resilience when facing challenges. He emphasizes that while life can be tough, there is always someone facing greater difficulties. Similarly, technology projects often encounter barriers such as budget limitations, time constraints, or technical issues. By staying positive and persisting through obstacles, project teams can conquer challenges and achieve their goals. Complex projects can indeed be challenging, but we strive to communicate effectively and persevere. We believe in addressing potential obstacles and taking responsibility for our actions. Overcoming adversity begins with open communication and accountability, values that our team consistently prioritizes.

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Celebrate Small Victories

During challenging missions, Admiral McRaven discovered comfort in acknowledging small victories. He mentions, “At least three times a week we had hot chow. It was a simple pleasure, but one that brought a smile to everyone’s face.” Similarly, in technology project delivery, recognizing and celebrating even minor milestones can enhance team spirit and emphasize progress towards the overarching objective. We have established recognition systems to commend creativity, efficiency, dedication to the goal, and customer satisfaction. Our clients also appreciate the impact we create when we pause to recognize our team’s contributions or highlight the achievement of a goal or reaching a significant milestone.

While it may seem impractical to compare delivering technology projects to being a Navy SEAL, but there are some universal lessons and behaviors that are critical to one’s success. In “Make Your Bed,” Admiral William H. McRaven imparts practical wisdom that resonates with individuals striving for success in any field. 


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