What can Project Managers learn from Nurses?


By Lunga Msengana 

South Africa

One Sunday afternoon, my family and I were just relaxing, and meditating on the morning’s sermon in church. Although I had quite a number of things to do, I decided to take it easy and spend some quality time with the family, ahead of another busy week. Without even realising it, my son (15 months old at the time) and I dozed off in bed – perhaps we were overtired. When we woke up I noticed that he was shaking. At first I did not pay attention to it, thinking that it was just his body movements from waking up. My wife pointed out to me that this was not normal, as the shaking, which we recognised as convulsions, continued for more than three minutes. During that time we felt as if we were losing him – a feeling probably partly due to our first-time parenting experience.

Once the convulsions lessened, and he was sort of stabilising, we decided to rush him to the nearest hospital so that he could receive medical attention. The journey to the hospital made up some of the tensest moments of our lives as parents. I must have broken every road rule in the book (which I must say I’m not proud about), to ensure that my son got to the hospital alive. When we got there, he was thoroughly examined in the intensive care unit for some hours, and then admitted to the paediatric ward.

We were not aware that our son might be admitted for more than four days, so we were under the impression that it was going to be just one night, and then the following day he might be discharged. The doctors explained to us that children’s bodies do not handle high temperatures very well, and that is why at times when their body temperature reaches a certain degree, they almost go into a state of shock – which is why they experience fits. Because of this, they would have to monitor his temperature until it dropped to an acceptable level. Certain medications would have to be administered, in order to help the temperature to drop. Moreover, the air conditioning would have to be at a very low level, so as to accelerate the process as well.

My son’s body temperature was like a roller coaster, and we ended up staying for a longer period than anticipated, but thankfully he soon made a full recovery. There is not much to keep you busy in a hospital, after you have read all the magazines and watched the TV channels, so you tend to notice a number of things that are happening around you, and form certain conclusions. For me as a project management practitioner, I asked myself: What can I learn from these nurses to whom I have given control over the health of my son? To my surprise, I discovered quite a few things that we can learn from them.


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About the Author

pmwj23-june2014-Msengana-AUTHOR IMAGELunga Msenganaflag-south-africa

Gauteng, South Africa

Lunga Msengana is a Professional Engineering Technologist registered with Engineering Council of South Africa and holds a BSc Hons in Applied Science (with specialization in Electronic Engineering) through the University of Pretoria. Years later, his passion for projects led him to formally studying Project Management, which he obtained a Masters of Commerce in Project Management (Cum Laude) with Cranefield College of Project and Programme Management.

In his career life, he has worked as a technician, Business Analyst, Engineer and Project Manager. He had the opportunity to work for Denel, Saab Tech, Molapo Technology, and Vodacom South Africa. He is currently a project manager for Eskom Telecommunications. He is also an Associate Lecturer at Cranefield College of Project and Programme Management. He also serves as a non-executive director for World Vision South Africa. Lunga is a member of Project Management South Africa (PMSA) and the Institute of Directors in Southern Africa (IoDSA).

In November 2012, Lunga published a book titled “The Missing Link in Projects”. The book gives full credit to the human factor in project management and it acknowledges the vital role people play in the unfolding of projects. It is well understood that project management has two main streams, the technical and the personal component. The personal component plays a role as it involves the people, and the key to project success is the people. However, the human aspect in projects is the most neglected. The book discusses topics in easy to read format.

Lunga Msengana can be contacted at [email protected].