The Tao of Project Management: Ancient Advice for Contemporary Solutions

Learn how you can master the art of Project Management. This article explores the key factors that determine one’s output.

In Chinese philosophy, the word Tao means “path” or “way”. It is the absolute principle underlying, in harmony with the natural order. The Tao Te Ching, believed to have been written by sage Lao Tzu in the 6th century, is among the most widely translated texts in its existence.

Authors across the globe have used it to talk about a lot of things metaphorically. Tao has inspired everything from religion to funny or romantic movies, even programming! Simply put, Tao is the ability to understand and accept the true nature of the matter.

It is interesting to view Project Management from the Tao sense. It allows you to rethink the crucial steps involved in various management stages. It facilitates a deeper understanding of any discipline. For instance, project managers don’t just perform the tasks required to manage projects. In turn, they help teams accomplish the organization’s goals or vision, however defined.

Let’s explore how a change in small processes through Tao’s lens can turn Project Management into a more fruitful learning experience for both the manager and the team.


Understanding the authority you hold

Project managers often feel that they can’t be held responsible for the outcome or how the project pans out if they don’t control the project. They suffer at the hands of well-meaning but ill-advised management. Satisfactory project results are often directly proportional to how much onus the project manager takes and how competent his knowledge of the realm of project management is. Understand your role and responsibilities thoroughly.

Be aware of what you agree to manage

More often than not, the pressure of being responsible or carrying out the title of a project manager can make the individual do more than what is asked for, to prove himself or herself. Agree to what you can perform well, do not sign up for what’s not your cup of tea or a project you’ve been pulled into at the last minute. Use your area of expertise to shine through.

Connect with the right people

Accepting that you aren’t an all-knowing being is essential. We don’t always know the answers to everything, do we? If you encounter a question that you don’t know the answer to, connect with those who do. Your role is about connecting people. Why dodge your responsibility when you can collaborate instead? Project managers in an open organization must move the organization forward by putting their best sources together.


It is essential to set the rules right at the start. While it is essential to trust your team for their capabilities and output, it is also crucial for them to be held accountable for their actions. If they cannot, then you should probably step away. It is vital for each member to understand their responsibilities and stay loyal to them at all points in time; it holds true for you, too.


Design the milestones you want to achieve

Give your team something to look forward to. Always provide your support and help them achieve the milestones in an engaging manner that proves lucrative as a learning experience for both of you. Reassure your team and tell them you will achieve what you can in the parameters. Make their jobs feel effortless; then, you’re on the right path.


Bring about the culture you want to see

Every organisation has a unique culture that distinguishes it from the rest. This culture may not necessarily have to be a healthy one or something that can apply in today’s times. As a project manager, you need to bring about a new, more lively and apt culture that will motivate the employees to find a purpose to be present at work every day. Give them a reason to show up; it’s a part of your job.

Communicate clearly

You build relations through communication, be it personal or professional. Communication is essential; good and transparent communication works wonders. Whether you communicate with your team or the CEO with the employees, communicating your goals and clearly stating them will facilitate a smoother and healthier dynamic between all.

If you come across new ideas, a cultural change you’d like to adopt or a change in process that you can implement in your team, make sure to incorporate them. Encourage your team to include these ideas wherever possible in your work set-up. Build the courage to try out something new at all points in time. It puts you in a great spot both as a manager and as a hard-working, creative employee. Believe in yourself, in your team and their potential; good things will follow.

Choose NMIMS Global if you want to pursue a career in project management. The 6-month certificate program includes approaches, tactics, and concepts to help develop skills for seamless project management.

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