Newton’s Second Law of Project Management and Life

Many of us have science or technology backgrounds so we are aware of the giant that is Sir Isaac Newton. For the rest, Newton was the scientist involved in apples falling from trees, understanding gravity, the motions of bodies, developing Calculus to name a few.

Newton’s first law was that bodies at rest stay at rest, bodies in motion stay in motion. Kind of ho hum.

But Newton’s second law has some magic. A body subjected to a force will move and accelerate in proportion to the force and in the direction of the force. Now Newton was thinking of physical bodies: apples falling from trees, projectiles fired from cannons, planets circling the sun.  But the law is bigger than that.

For a project manager we need to see that our project teams are aligned with our project goals. We need to communicate the direction we are going and we need to get everyone pushing in that same direction. Force and Direction.

That Direction is decided through our goals, planning and through the strategies we implement on project. As leaders we work with our teams to identify where we are going and how we will get there. As a team we define tasks and deliverables that will advance the project. We define who will complete each task, what we will pass off to other team members, how they will continue to move things forward. Each person needs to understand their role and how they move things forward. That is, how they are to apply the force and what direction they are to apply the force.

Team members complete tasks and deliverables. They apply themselves to move and accelerate the project.

As the project builds it develops a momentum and an excitement. The endeavor takes on a life of its own. It becomes something to be reckoned with. Something for the team to put their best efforts into. Something to be proud of.

The results of applying the proper force in the right direction bring us to success. It makes us unstoppable; Invincible even.

The Law can be used on projects. But it is true of all endeavors: Learning a skill, planning a career, growing a business, waging war and battling epidemics, putting a man on the moon, moving a nation or a society forward. It is more than a physical law. It is metaphysical, even philosophical. Use if, focus it and give it direction. There is nothing we cannot do. Newton’s Second Law of Project management says it is so.