All I Really Needed to Know (about Project Management) I Learned in Ranger School

Agile, Scrum, PMP, Lean Six Sigma, Gantt Charts, PERT Diagrams, TQM, and MDMP are a few of the project management techniques I have learned and used in the Army.  Each of them has helped me solve a myriad of complex and challenging problems.  Nevertheless, I learned more about preparing and completing a mission (project) during Ranger School than any other time in the Army.

Leadership.  The first line in the Ranger Handbook states, “Leadership is the most important element of combat power.”  If you ask any soldier who has completed Ranger School, they will tell you fundamentally, it’s about leadership.  Similarly, the first and most important interpersonal skill required for a successful project manager is leadership, according to the Project Management Institute.

Troop Leading Procedures.  Time is unequivocally the most important commodity in Ranger School.  There was so much training and activity jammed into the 60-day Ranger School that I do not recall getting more than four hours of sleep in a single day, usually we were lucky to get two hours and sometimes went 48-hours straight without sleep.  Therefore, effective time-management is essential, and Ranger School teaches troop leading procedures to help leaders prepare their unit to accomplish a mission.  Time management is a principal component of project management.  Defining activities and developing the schedule are key project management tasks.  Above all, the project manager must tightly control the schedule, much like the patrol leader must control the troop leading procedures.

Battle Drills.  In Ranger School we learned battle drills to react to commonly established situations.  The lesson here is that project managers can use common Knowledge Areas that are used on most projects most of the time.  Project management uses well-established processes to help project managers to complete their projects.  While there are several types of process groups, it is important to select the appropriate processes required to meet the project objectives.

Ascension has the experience to help improve your organization’s project management procedures.

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