Can a Spider Teach us Project Success?

Great question.  Hmmm…my answer is yes.

Spider Project Process

I don’t claim to speak spider, however I will translate the fact the 1 inch diameter spider in my driveway spent all night covering every aspect of a successful project with the goal of catching a very large quarry, my black sedan.

  1. Strategy–What prey to target?  What is project success?  Probability of success?  Most effective place to set up trap? 
  2. Planning–Do I have the resources (time, talent and materials) to create a reinforced 8ft high web stretched over 1/2 across a driveway to capture the prey?
  3. Execution–Implement plan of 10 hours spinning web connected to key points before daybreak when prey will stir out of it’s slumber.
  4. Results–Plan was a success.  Prey was fully captured by web.
  5. Repeat (if applicable)–This only applies if the spider survived the 30 mile commute of the car’s owner.

The spider gives us a great 5 point strategy on project success.  The spider achieved his goal of catching the car, however he chose his target poorly due to not including enough internet market analysis during the strategy stage.  Maybe he had issues with his “web” access!  lol

Application to Business

Now I’m speaking from my expertise in strategic marketing, customer experience and business strategy; yet these 5 simple elements can apply to any project for any size company (pre-start-up to the Fortune 1000) to a personal or non-profit entity.  The steps seems so basic, yet many projects fail because one or more steps are skimmed over due to time constraints, lack of subject comfort level or flat no clue.

With #1 Strategy, I see possibly one of the biggest failure points is choosing the target.  I agree execution is very important, however with a solid strategy you are implementing failure and defeat.  Take Mr. Spider in the real life story…yes he succeeded in capturing his prey, however was it the best target for him to choose at this point?  His execution was flawless but his results could easily be seen as a semi-failure.  I agree with the post by Robin Jewsbury to go after your Goliath of your industry vs. working with them.  What needs to be assessed during the strategy stage is do you run straight at the 800lb gorilla/Goliath with sling swinging and yelling “your end draweth nigh” or do you look for an oversight with a well planned strategy targeting a discreet exposed weakness?

In some cases you may be able to completely take down the 800lb gorilla/Goliath or at the minimum build a thriving business based on the small weakness he doesn’t even know about or feel it is of any concern (pride).  So many examples come to mind on the latter…Blockbuster vs. Netflix, RadioShack vs. Amazon/Walmart, Taxi Industry vs. Uber, etc…


Think about past projects that went well and others that didn’t.  What were the elements of success, needed improvement and failure in each?  Was it only wrong people in the mix or right people wrong roles or was it the simple missed or underdeveloped step in the Spider Project Process?

Hmmmm…think about it a little longer and you might recall that slight off feeling you had during a project where you or someone on the team should or shouldn’t do that one thing?  Yep…then you look back and realize where the cog in the wheel started coming loose.

You know, I think I am going to buy a slingshot this weekend and start looking for my 800lb gorilla/Goliath to start using the Spider Project Process.

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