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January 22, 2010 7:24 AM CST

‘Hoosiers’ and Project Management

Always be looking for the lesson that can change your life


“Hoosiers” should be part of your business library.
“Hoosiers” should be part of your business library.

The best lessons about construction project management can be learned by watching the right movies, and I have a few to discuss with you in 2010 — lessons that can help your business, now.

We should be paying attention to good movies, good stories, good people and good leaders, because they just might have something valuable that will help us out of a jam. A great example is the movie “Hoosiers,” which stars Gene Hackman. It should be part of your business library.

This is how I remember the movie: Coach and his basketball team had a pretty successful season, went through a few rounds in the playoffs, and were about to play for the state championship in Indiana, the Holy Grail of high school and college basketball, to some.

Coach leads his team into the arena where they’ll be playing, and the arena is huge. The team is beside itself with pride. And then, it hits them: We are playing in the big time. What if we fail? Maybe we don’t belong here. The team starts to freak out. Remember what happens?

So, Coach Hackman does something phenomenal: He takes a tape measure out of his pocket and tells a couple of his kids to check the height of the basket. They do. He asks them, “How high is it?” They tell him. He asks if they’re sure. They double check. Yes, they’re sure. Then he asks, “You mean that this basket is EXACTLY the same height as the baskets in our own gym?”

The players start to get it: Forget the surroundings. Play our kind of basketball, in a game we know very well.

Here is the application to your own business:
  • The arena. It’s our jobsite. Some jobsites are bigger than others. Maybe a palace, maybe a house. Just jobsites. Big league, small league. Championship, filler job.

  • Rules. Basically, in our industry, no matter which arena, you always play the same game: You have to know your fundamentals, and you also need style and craftsmanship. Most important, the rule book governs the game, and it hardly matters the size of the jobsite, or the reputation of the GC or CM. Everyone knows the basket is a certain height, and if you put the ball into the basket, you get paid for it. If somebody moves the basket, tries to change the height, forces you to shoot from a greater distance, or unfairly blocks your access, you have recourse: You can get paid for it.
Listen up: When you play with the big boys, you do need to bring your “A-game.” And, you need to know what an A-game is; you probably don’t want to rely upon your opponent to give you any pointers. Learn your lessons before you play the game.

I say all of that, so I can say this: In this economic downturn, there will be some opportunity to bid work in bigger arenas. Lots of public jobs, prestige jobs. Important builders and clients. If your team is good, you might be able to compete. But you do need to know the basics. You need a coach who knows the ropes and can lead by example. Some of you smarter players will contact Coach Gary and learn a technique, trick or a tip that will pay huge dividends for your company.

Coach Gary's Corner

It’s 2010, and things are still tough out there. Learn to win when you play the big boys! Get free reports you need for your own business. Go to, and click on the link near the top of the page. The reports are free; not knowing the info is expensive. You need a process. How about one that’s pretty darn simple, but extremely effective? Masonry readers get this report for free, along with a free video tip of the month from Coach Gary. Go there now.

About the Author

Gary Micheloni is a working project manager, speaker, author, consultant and coach. He has severals years of industry experience, including a background as a licensed general engineering contractor. For further information and insight on the Full Contact Project Management approach, write Coach Gary at

Copyright 2010 Gary Micheloni


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