Team Redundancy: A Story of Project Managers and Machine Gunners

By Greencastle Consulting

In the dynamic world of project management, team member redundancy is a key but occasionally overlooked principle. To illustrate the significance of team redundancy, let’s delve into the world of a US Army machine gun team and how they use redundancy to guarantee continued combat operation. This analogy will illustrate the imperative of cross-functional skills with an element of battlefield drama, mirroring the intensity and high operational tempo often found in the project management world.

What is redundancy?

Imagine a project management (PM) team, meticulously following the Project Management Institute (PMI) standards for both Waterfall and Agile project management. This team operates within a crucible of challenges—ever-evolving requirements, and unforeseen disruptions lurking at every turn. Much like the machine gun team, this PM team must practice redundancy as a defense against the unforeseen, ensuring the seamless execution of project objectives.

Redundancy, in the realm of project management, transcends mere duplication; it’s a calculated, intentional cross-training of skills and responsibility among team members. Teams are built in a way that each team member can do the job of the PM beside him. The scheduler must know, and be able to competently execute, the work of the reporting lead, and so on. Each member is a virtuoso, proficient in multiple roles, capable of seamlessly transitioning and filling gaps to maintain momentum in the face of a team member’s planned vacation or sudden absence.


Versatile Project Management Teams

PM team members master various project management methodologies, one specializing in Agile and the other in Waterfall, but both being competent in the other. They train on the same work management systems, Microsoft tools, and associated disciplines like Change Management and Process Improvement. The PM team trains proficiency in all facets of project management – the art of meticulous planning, the precision of on-time execution, or the vigilance of continuous monitoring and adaptation. The change manager leaves for a week on vacation with her family, and the controls lead steps in, shouldering her burden until she returns.

The High-Stakes World of a Machine Gunner Team

Now, let’s venture into the visceral, high-stakes world of a US Army machine gun team. The machine gunner and assistant gunner are joined at the hip, supporting and safeguarding their platoon by suppressing the enemy with a withering hail of bullets. The gunner carries and operates the 22-pound medium machine gun, aiming, firing, and shifting the weapon to react to ever-changing battlefield conditions. The assistant gunner, or AG, carries linked belts of ammunition and a tripod, the emplacement that provides stability and accuracy to the machine gun itself. The AG keeps the gun fed with ammunition, scans the battlefield for targets, and calls them out to the gunner while he maintains the necessary high volume of fire on the enemy position.

Picture this: in a chaotic firefight, the gunner is incapacitated. The machine gun’s syncopated rhythm falters, but the AG springs into action. With adrenaline coursing through his veins, he rolls the gunner out of the way and takes the gun. He loads his own ammo, scans his own targets, and pours fire on the enemy with a newfound urgency. His squad leader, his combat supervisor, shortly arrives with another gun team and a medic, and the AG is no longer alone in the fight. His comrade is down, but not out, and the battle continues.

The Essence of Redundancy

This dramatic moment captures the essence of redundancy—the ability to pivot seamlessly, to adapt in the face of adversity. It’s a narrative of resilience reflected in the corporate battlefield of a PM team, where each member must be prepared to “take the gun” should a counterpart be incapacitated.

The analogy between a machine gun team and a project management team is a tale of unsung heroes, of individuals equipped not only with specialized skills and knowledge but also with the cross-functional training to fill a gap when the unforeseen strikes. The drama of the battlefield mirrors the intensity of project management, and in both arenas, the concept of redundancy is a key element ensuring triumph against all odds.

As a 100% veteran-owned and operated company, the Greencastle team understands the importance of building redundancy into every facet of an implementation to achieve the desired outcome. Our team has a well-balanced blend of industry-recognized certifications and practical experience to help clients succeed. Whether you need just project management expertise or all four of our services we are a part of your team for as long as you need us.