Sure, Zombie Movies can Teach Managers Lessons on Productivity

lessons on productivity

On an island called Hispaniola, something happened that changed the face of monsters forever. Hundreds of years ago, slaves from Africa were moved to the heart of Haiti, where they were forced to toil laboriously on the farms.

The fables say that those slaves were masters of Voodoo. And when one of the slaves died, the others mustered dark forces to bring people back from the dead. Which brings us to the origin of the word ‘Zombie’, which means to raise from the dead by magical means. Now the important question remains: ‘Are zombies real?’

Well, time travel is still a myth, and it is difficult to trace the history of Zombies even after delving deep into their murky and somewhat ominous depths. But, if you’re serious about discovering more, go watch a Zombie Apocalypse documentary to make your hair stand on end.

I am not a research expert on the subject of Zombies, although I have done a post on DIY Halloween Costume Ideas, which is kind of scary, but as a project manager, at an online task management startup, I would like to reveal some productivity lessons that I’ve learned while I was watching edge-of-the-seat thriller zombie movies. Surprise, surprise, but it does take a lot of planning and team skills to survive a Zombie apocalypse! One can’t do alone!

Plan for the Best, but Keep a Backup Plan in Place

Between the inexplicable, enormous popularity of The Walking Dead and blockbuster zombie movies like World War Z, our zombie obsession has reached its zenith.  One of the best things that I’ve learned in zombie related movies is that nearly anything can happen at any time, even when feathers seem unruffled. Groups of people get lost. Some get isolated and clamber around aimlessly seeking help. And this is exactly when the Zombie throng decides to ambush.

In Zombie movies,  it’s often the survival of the wittiest, not the fittest, since the urgency of the moment often entails them to build tools or weapons from the limited, and often seemingly useless, resources that they have at their disposal. Don’t you want to shout out to the protagonist when they are leaving something important behind before rushing out in a frenzy, something that could have come in handy in case of a waylay?

Be it a Zombie Armageddon or a grand project that you’re about to close, despite all your best efforts on the project, you need to keep a backup plan, lest something goes south. Instead of just sitting around and blaming your team for the failed project, go out there and make a backup plan. Find more than one solution to the given problem, so that if plan ‘A’ falls down the drain, you’ll have 25 more alphabets to choose from!

There is Always Safety in Numbers

If you’re a horror movie buff, you are already aware of this important rule. The rule to survival is: Do not get separated from the group. The first person who gets isolated is often the first to meet a horrific end. Being on your own during a Zombie Apocalypse is a bad thing, and the odds are hardly ever in your favor.  How the little band of survivors in Zombie-land abide by a list of zombie-killing strategies and survival rules as they make their way across the town is truly inspiring!

Same goes for project managers. If you want to finish the project on-time, you need to pick the right team, boasting the right set of skills needed to work on various facets of the project. The team that will move you forward. Try to avoid taking decisions alone. When creative people group together, they can turn ordinary projects into extraordinary results.

Are you Using the Right Weapons?

Use the wrong weapon and you’ll end up a zombie food in no time. While swords can chop off a few heads, they are not much help when it comes to obstructing groping zombies. When you’re a few feet away, you can use an assault rifle, but then again, it will run out of ammo in a matter of time. You need to know the difference between a crossbow and a flamethrower.

In life it is about survival, in business, it is about being productive. As a project manager, you need to choose the right tools. You can use the online task management tools to minimize the workload and make effective utilization of your resources, before the workload buries you under, deep down where nobody can hear you scream.

Just as in zombie movies where the selection of the wrong weapon kills people, the selection of wrong tools can sabotage your productivity.

Guard your Brains

You don’t need to be a zombie movie aficionado to know that zombies thrive on brains, for reasons that I find difficult to grasp, well, until the next Zombie apocalypse hits the screen and I might get my answers. Let’s assume that we are alive and doing great. Your brain is more important to you than it is to zombies. You can use something along the lines of the Pomodoro method to rejuvenate your brain after a chunk of mental hard work. Taking regular breaks keep productivity-killing fatigue from setting in.

One way to save your brain from getting wired up is to automate all mundane and redundant tasks. If you’re able to put an end to making decisions that seem repetitive, you’ll be able to save your energy for the bigger tasks. Remember that not getting much done can leave you with a taste of failure on your tongue. And you’ll eventually turn out worse than a zombie.

When the Time Comes, Run Like Hell

No matter how good your defenses are, and how prepared you are, you can never be sure how safe you will be. You always need a backup strategy to deal with those unpredictable stupid zombies. And when the time comes, run like hell.

Same goes for when you’re a manager and try to be productive all the time. Not every day is a mega-productive day. There are high & low moments in everyone’s life. Not every project is meant to be finished as planned. Sometimes it is not about quitting or running away from something, it is about moving on towards something better.

And to end the Zombie Apocalypse

Of course, in a zombie movie, the protagonist always wins. But, there is no one way to win the bout when you’re up against those flesh-eating slayers. On the other hand, you can control some things. Things like being productive in your day-to-day activities by keeping in mind the above tips.