Reflection and best practice - Gorilla Theory

When you wrestle a gorilla you don’t stop when you’re tired, you stop when the gorilla’s tired

A goal without a plan is just a wish (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

Key premise

There are no magic bullets or secret strategies to successful work or project delivery. People skills (predominantly Emotional Intelligence to enable you to lead teams) and checklists are the central focus of the model, as is recognising the personal responsibilities involved to lead and deliver the project outcomes.

Gorilla Theory Core principles

  • discipline
  • awareness
  • communication
  • vigilance
  • people skills

Essential Gorilla Theory –the 3 I’s in Discipline

  • I should
  • I can
  • I WILL

Inherent dangers in managing change

  • political positioning: poor or lacking decision making
  • uncertainty over goals
  • multiple deliverables, numerous work streams
  • understanding the gaps in knowledge
  • escalation – leading to overrunning time and/or costs
  • busyness – the demands outstrip capability or capacity
  • apathy as things stall or progress seems ephemeral

Communication: people listen when 

  • we commit to listen
  • we get to the point quickly and simply
  • we find common ground with the listeners

If you are on the Titanic you’d be scrambling for life jackets, not shouting at the iceberg

Summary Suggestions

  • always quantify what is required and what is (as yet) unknown. Plan in detail
  • involve the stakeholders and project commissioning team
  • focus on the goal: seek insight for the tasks
  • DICE = discipline, insight, communication, enthusiasm (+ emotional labour)

[1] Chucks H. Gorilla Theory (The Art of Avoiding Project Delivery Disaster), Spotlight Literary, 2013

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