Three Mind-Shaping Models for Project Managers

Three simple strategies to help project managers work more efficiently….

Project Managers

Models make it easier to understand how a system works. Mind shaping-models use a little bit of cognitive science to help you look at familiar things in brand new ways – a very helpful tool for project managers when tackling tricky aspects of their day to day role.


SWOT Analysis is a hugely popular technique used by professional project managers to help with decision-making.  It should be conducted during the startup phase and when done correctly, it will provide the backbone to the entire project.

The basics are very simple, you assess the company’s Strengths and Weaknesses, then identify Opportunities based on the strengths and Threats based on the weaknesses. Simple, yet remarkably incisive.

This (below) is a ‘deluxe edition’ of the model, because it notes that you can break the matrix down into internal and external factors as well as along beneficial, harmful lines. A good strategy exercise it to have different team members fill in one box each, then share with the team and try to think of more.

2. Pareto Principle

The Pareto Principle is known as the 80/20 principle.

The 80/20 principle – that 80 percent of result flow from just 20 per cent of the causes – is the one true principle of highly effective people.” ~ Richard Koch

The principle claims that 80% of the effects originate from 20% of the causes (which reminds you to focus on the 20% of things that really matter on a project.)

As we all know from working within project management, it is a competitive place where being the fastest and most efficient counts for a lot and this is where the pareto principle comes into play. Its application to project management is that if you identify which causes (artists, clients, suppliers) are helping you the most, then you can focus in on them.  You get 80% of the reward with 20% of the effort – simple!

Carrot and Stick… and Normative Strategy

The carrot and stick theory is widely considered as the base of all motivational strategies. Reward or punishment is applied to induce the desired behaviour – people are either avoiding the stick, or trying to get the carrot. But now it seems a third way has been put forward…

Normative Strategy is about getting people to act based on the norms of the group they’re in. If, as a project manager, you create a situation where it’s the norm for people to stay after an extra half hour after work, then people probably will. It’s not because they want a reward or fear punishment, but simply because it’s ‘the done thing’.

If this sounds like the kind of strategy that you would like to sample with your team, you can read more here.

If you are looking for a new project management job, we have a host of exciting opportunities in London, Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong and China. You can find dozens of jobs on our project manager jobs listings right now.

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