Principles for Glory - Using PRINCE2 to win at football

Football with flags of different nationalities making up the panels of the ball

As a Project Management professional, I am often asked what my greatest career achievement is.

My answer is simple and unerring: inspiring, as club manager, the recent victory of AXELOS FC’s fabled 5-a-side football team in the League One Victoria Late championship near our offices in London.

How did we achieve this goal?

Simple. A faithful adherence to AXELOS’s PRINCE2® principles for project management.

With my own glittering managerial pedigree in mind, I would like to offer the following advice to the managers leading their teams out this Friday in the 8th edition of the Women’s World Cup in France. It is my humble opinion that whichever manager applies these universal, self-validating and empowering principles most effectively will lift the trophy on 7 July 2019.

As participation in a tournament is a project on a national scale, let’s have a look at these principles and how they might be applied.

Continued Business Justification

As key stakeholders in our team’s success, we need a justifiable reason for investing our time and energy in this project and an understanding of what the benefits are. After winning 5-0 in the opening game we might feel excited about our prospects, but as the tournament, or project, advances, we need to make sure we are still aligned with our original objectives and expectations.

Learn from experience

In the 2015 World Cup, England’s women’s team achieved the best performance by any senior England side since the men won the tournament in 1966, finishing in 3rd place and beating Germany in the process. Taking stock of this, we might look at the positive points that enabled this success while also considering what we might do better this time to go even further.

Defined roles and responsibilities

Does everyone understand their role and agree to it? Make sure all the players on your team are engaged with by developing this common understanding together, agreeing it and sharing it. If your goalkeeper spends more time in the opposition half then in her own, your chances of making the final are limited.

Manage by Stages

True, we’ve got our eye on the final. But let’s not get too excited before we get there. First, we need to plan and execute our group matches effectively. Once our progression is confirmed, then we can start thinking about the next games. Taking things one step at a time, with an eye on the big picture, is hugely important.

Manage by Exception

In any team, distinct levels of responsibility are key. Before the match, the manager establishes an approach for the team and then allows the players time and space to deliver during the game. However, if tolerances for risk, quality or time, for example, are impacted, the captain might first step in to provide extra support to the team, followed by the manager if things really are not going to plan.

Tailor to suit the project

If you are playing Germany (currently ranked the best team in the world) you might want to consider working on your defence. If, however, you are playing a team with fewer attacking options, you should look at attacking more yourself. You need to adapt your team and your approach to the challenge in front of you to make sure you are well-prepared.

Focus on products

Sure, taking part counts. But we all know that in the World Cup, there is only one deliverable that matters – the trophy itself. Beautiful, flowing football is great to watch but if there is no trophy at the end will our stakeholders truly be happy?

Good luck to all the teams and – to all the managers out there – don’t forget to have your PRINCE2 manual next to you on the bench.

Read more AXELOS Blog Posts from Michael Macgregor

3 tips for passing ITIL 4 Foundation

The (Not So Secret) Life of a Project Manager

Current rating: 4.4 (5 ratings)


16 Jun 2019 Rashmi S
Alternate text
Very well designed Case Study with active demonstration of PRINCE2 Principles...
25 Jun 2019 Junio Guedes Dias
Alternate text
This text demonstrates how Prince2 methodology is suitable to any kind of project.
You must log in to post a comment. Log in

Find a Training Provider

PRINCE2 2017 Core Publication

Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2 2017 Edition

Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2 2017 Edition

Our updated project management guidance places a new emphasis on the flexibility of the method and how to tailor it to your specific projects.

Buy the PRINCE2 guide >