I’m not a big TV watcher…and when I do watch TV, I don’t usually settle on the reality shows. Reality shows are full of scripted moments, overly colorful characters, and obvious product placements. But when I heard that the PMI-Southern Alberta Chapter (SAC) chose Survivor as their theme for the PMI-SAC Professional Development Conference on November 12th and 13th, I thought: how fitting. Because, the winner of Survivor is basically the best project manager on the island. And here is why.

Survivor has key themes and activities: the challenges where you work hard to win, the tribal council where you get voted off, the alliances that you build your trust and teams with. Let’s take a look at each one.

The challenges: throughout a project, a PM will face a variety of obstacles and hurdles to overcome in order to successfully meet their project goals. These challenges for the PM (or the survivor participants) require critical thinking skills, technical ability, agility and flexibility, focused planning and vast amounts of teamwork. Succeed with these characteristics and tactics and you are sure to reach you project goals or “win the challenge”.

The tribal council: a tribal council is likened to your steering committee or decision-makers. When presenting to your steering committee, you need wit, strategies, great boardroom persona and an ability to influence a decision. You need to be prepared to answer tough questions and have your facts and data ready or you will get voted off the island. Okay, I guess we don’t get voted off islands, but maybe your steering committee meeting is a go/no go meeting. Your project could face “elimination” if you don’t have the information at your fingertips – always be prepared for the toughest questions as it may mean a halt to your project.

The alliances: the most striking similarity. People are what make projects successful – not process. The ability to build trust, earn respect, gain credibility and ultimately build a well-oiled team sharing a common vision to get a project completed – that is the ultimate parallel to be drawn between Survivor and Project Management.

So there you have it. Project Manager = Sole Survivor.

November 12th will mark our first day at the PMI-SAC Professional Development Conference at the Telus Convention Centre, where I will be presenting, along with a number of other speakers. I would encourage you to stay close to our Twitter feed throughout the event, and check back to our website ( for any available presentation materials.


Lisa Eyamie
Client Services Manager / Practice Director of PMO, PMO