Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

By: Alicia Bailey, P.E.

One of my favorite quotes from Jim Meads is “I’m not up in the stands; I’m on the playing field with you.” 

When you are in charge of managing a design project, it’s always helpful to know “who is on the playing field” with you.  An easy way to describe how we staff a design project is to think of a baseball team.

Pitcher – Project Manager

The project manager is in the center of the field (the field in our case is the project).  You might think of “pitching” as throwing the directions and commands to move the project forward.

Next, you want your best players on the infield with you.  These are the people you know you can rely on to fight hard through the whole game and who might be involved in nearly every play.   

Catcher – Team Leader/Project Director/Technical Director

This person is watching the entire team.  If a ball is dropped, they move fast to scoop it up and make the play.  They also help the pitcher – if the pitching is off, they give recommendations on how to fix the problem.  If the project is derailing for any reason or maybe there is a technical challenge, this person helps the project manager get the project back on the right track.

Shortstop – Main designer

If you don’t have a good shortstop, you might not win the game.  Same holds true for design – you need a designer who knows the project inside and out and helps the project manager every step along the way.

First Baseman – Assistant Project Manager

The first baseman is always stretching and reaching to catch the ball.  The ball could be coming at them from all over the field.  In our case, the ball is considered any type of project demand, such as questions, emails, etc.  The assistant PM on a project is there to assist the project manager and to help field all the project demands. 

Second Baseman – Drainage designer

There are three important D’s on a design project – drainage, drainage, and drainage.  The drainage designer on any project is a key player.

Third Baseman – Another key team member

This might be another designer or someone who is a key player in the project. It could even be a subconsultant in a supporting role to Sain.

Center Fielder – Principal in Charge

This is where Jim (or whoever is the Principal on the project) comes in.  He might not be needed on a daily basis or every play.  But when a ball is hit to him, he is there to catch it and help the team.

Left Fielder – Visionary, dreamer

Have you ever heard someone say, “This idea may be way out in left field…”?  Sometimes projects need a visionary person, someone who can give out-of-the-box ideas and solutions.   You might not need them every game, but they are there standing in the outfield to make a play when needed.

Right Fielder – Wildflower Picker

If you have ever watched a T-ball game, you probably understand the expression that the right fielder is picking wildflowers in the outfield.  This team member is not involved in the project daily, actually they might not be involved at all, but they are there to help the team out when needed.  This could be someone who needs to assist on a small specific task.

Having a strong project team with clear roles and responsibilities is a sure-fire way to knock your project out of the park!   

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