What if Game of Thrones had a project manager?
So, that’s it. It’s all over. We now know who rules in King’s Landing.
It was a long, long journey for Bran the Broken to finally rule over the six (surprise, it’s not seven) kingdoms. And now we are all a bit lost and don’t know what to do with our time.
Well, at least we can have a look at this epic story from a PRINCE2® point of view. What would a project manager have done in Winterfell, King’s Landing or Braavos? How would they have used the seven principles to unite the seven kingdoms?
- Continued business justification
One of the main justifiable reasons within Game of Thrones for starting basically a huge war is to get the Lannisters off the Iron Throne. After all, they were there illegally (yes, Cersei’s children were not those of King Robert Baratheon), and King Joffrey was a sadistic and cruel tyrant. In addition, there was absolute business justification for project The Long Night, aka the war against the Night King. Why? Simply because this would have meant the end of Westeros and nobody wanted to be turned into zombies.
- Learn from experience
Everybody who watched Game of Thrones knows about the Mad King Aerys Targaryen, who was killed by Jamie Lannister aka the Kingslayer because…well, he went mad and started to burn people alive. So, this should have clearly taught all those who play the Game of Thrones a lesson or two. Seems like some were in complete denial about what happened as they did not see what was coming (just like some of the fans). Especially Daenerys Targaryen should have learned a lot from what her father did. But instead, through her actions, she turned into the Mad Queen herself destroying King’s Landing and slaughtering innocent people.
- Define roles and responsibilities
Roles kept changing throughout Game of Thrones. Daenerys started off as somebody determined to end slavery and injustice but ended up as a Mad Queen. Cersei started off as the beautiful Queen Consort to Robert Baratheon and ended up (for a while) on the Iron Throne herself – being rather a tyrannical ruler. Then we have Jon Snow who was always the good guy with proper leadership qualities (despite knowing nothing) who turned into the Queenslayer.
So, who might be the suppliers in Game of Thrones? How about the Unsullied and the Dothraki as they supply the troops – something absolutely essential within the story. Who could be the business sponsor? How about Tyrian Lannister as Daenery’s hand, endorsing her fight for the Iron Throne? The users? Could be the different Houses, as they are the ones getting out value from their ruler.
From a project management perspective, the show could be seen as a fantastic metaphor for what happens when there’s no defined roles and responsibilities. Just think of all the bloodshed that could have been avoided if they’d only done a RACI matrix….
- Manage by stages
Well, we had many different storylines happening in Game of Thrones. But the two main stages were the fight against the Night King, and the battle for King’s Landing and the Iron Throne. Those playing the Game of Thrones had to ensure the first one was finished successfully before entering the second stage. And while for a long time we thought the fight for King’s Landing and for the Iron Throne would be the same thing…we found out it wasn’t – which meant another stage for those who were still alive.
- Manage by exception
Did we have defined tolerances for each objective? Maybe not really because the main objective was always win and survive or lose and die. But I wonder if a project manager would have been able to convince Daenerys that after the Night King battle she should have allowed a time tolerance for the troops to recuperate – Sansa tried but was not successful. There was never much debate around costs but we know that a Lannister always pays his debts. Throughout the show we also found out that the Iron Throne owed huge amounts of money to the powerful Iron Bank and this remains a theme until season 7. So at least from the Iron Throne’s point of view, it would have been better to define tolerance regarding cost instead of continuously borrowing money.
Regarding time…well, we all know winter is coming.
- Focus on products
So, the project needs to focus on what it needs to produce. Again, this definitely happened. The alliance had to kill the Night King in order to survive. Definite focus on that one. Daenerys thought it was her birthright to sit on the Iron Throne and she focused a bit too much on that one. And because of that, she lost it again.
- Tailor to suit the project environment
Proactive choices and decisions were always very important throughout the series. And the project environment changed while the action travelled through the different kingdoms, so yes, the characters definitely tailored their approach. Especially through the use of dragons to win their battles.
So, we didn’t get to see Jon Snow sitting on the Iron Throne but it was still an epic ride that lasted eight years.