The Zen of Project Management


Buddha described the Eightfold path of Zen as rules to follow to accomplish the end of suffering. The Path can be applied to every area of life, including Project Management. Which, if not done carefully, can certainly lead to suffering for many organizations. Below is a practical guide for tackling Project Management in accordance with the Zen philosophy.

1. Right View

The first step is understanding; understanding yourself as a project manager, understanding the needs of your organization and understanding the work style of your employees.

One must know why they need to implement and project and what problems you intend for it to solve. It is important that you see your organization as it really is, and how it is changing. You must convince your team that change is good, necessary and inevitable. Clinging to the idea of everything staying as is, gives rise to unhappiness. Projects are by nature, temporary. They have a finite beginning and end.

2. Right Intention

Consider whether or not the project should even happen. Think about what controls your actions. Are you looking to start a new project for the good of the entire organization, or tozen of project management further your own agenda?

3. Right Speech

Choose your words wisely. Never speak deceitfully about your intentions. Always speak of your ideas for the project in a positive light. This will help you to win over those who are not initially thrilled about the undertaking. Even if you are met with resistance, avoid using harsh words, but speak kindly to those who oppose you.

4. Right Action

Put forth your very best effort in completing a project. Seek expert help where needed and involve others who are willing to help in the process. When making assignments, consider people’s interest as much as their skills and experience. Allowing employees to choose how they want to be involved in the project allows them to develop professionally as well as helping the project.

5. Right Livelihood

Avoid focusing only on the organization’s bottom line. Implement a project management solution that will make your employees jobs easier as well as enrich the experience for your customers.

6. Right Effort

At the beginning of a project, develop a plan with clear activities. Breaking things into small and manageable chunks can help you eat that proverbial elephant. Also, ensure that your team members clearly know what you’re asking them to do.

7. Right Mindfulness

Look at your organization from a distance. Keep an open mind that is present, quiet and alert. Do not judge or interpret what you see, simply observe. This will bring great knowledge about the inner workings of your organization.

8. Right Concentration

One-pointedness of mind is something that every Zennist must try to maintain in everything he or she does or says. Focus on one thing at a time. In project management, only move on to the next project or task after the prior one has been completed.

If you follow the rules of Buddha’s Eightfold Path, you can expect a successful project management experience with minimal suffering.


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