It is that time of year again …The Holidays … I love this time year and I mean love it … the lights, the music, my family, presents and the holiday movies. One of my favorite movies of all time is “A Christmas Story” you know the one … it is played for 24 hours straight starting Christmas Eve night … the one where Ralphie has to convince his parents, teacher and Santa that an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle is the perfect gift for him and he will not shoot his eye out. Of course this blog is about project management so how in the world can “A Christmas Story” teach us anything about managing projects? Let’s go to the movies…
Ralphie had a clear project objective: an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle. Raphie wants only one thing for Christmas the Red Ryder model air rifle, not another sweater and certainly not the pink bunny suit pj’s from his aunt. No, only the official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle would do. Ralphie’s project objective was clear. Now he just had to make sure his stakeholders were clear on the objective.
Ralphie did his stakeholder analysis and knew who his stakeholders were: parents, teacher and Santa. Ralphie knew the only way to ensure the success of his project objective was if his stakeholders were on board and understood the important role they played in achieving the project objective. Ralphie needed a creative but clear communication to make this happen.
Ralphie developed a communication plan. First Ralphie leaves sales ads out in strategic locations for his mother to find them about the Red Ryder model air rifle. Then when she asks Ralphie what he plans to tell Santa what he wants for Christmas he excitedly shouts an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle. As soon as it comes out of his mouth he realizes it is just too much information at this time for her to handle and she instantly says “you will shoot your eye out”. He writes a beautiful essay about wanting the Red Ryder model air rifle for his teacher. Ralphie is so sure he really has this whole communication plan down now and the essay will solve all his anxiety over the Red Ryder model air rifle. When he gets his essay back with a C+ and warning “you will shoot your eye out” he begins to despair that maybe he really does not have such a great communication plan after all. He is sure the big guy “Santa” will save the day for him but he finds that Santa thinks “he will shoot his eye out” as well.
Christmas morning arrives and Ralphie is sure his project objective is all but lost and his communication plans have all failed. However, Ralphie forgot about his most important stakeholder, his dad. His disappointment turns to joy as his father points out one last half-hidden present. As Ralphie unwraps the BB gun his dad explains to his mom that he had one himself when he was 8 years old. In the end Ralphie is lying in bed on Christmas night with his official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle by his side. Happy Holidays and may all your projects turn out as well as Ralphie’s.