The Statistician

A Project Manager who is only concerned with establishing lists and checking items off, regardless of what those items are.


To complete any project of any type, there are two irrefutable steps:

  1. Make a list of things to do.
  2. Check items off the list until it is done.

The Statistician Project Manager has concluded that the maintenance of this list represents the entirety of their job responsibility. They are not concerned about what is on this list, only that it has items on it, and that they are being checked off at a predictable pace. The Statistician does not evaluate or offer any critical thinking towards what the items on the list are, and instead rely on others to tell them both the items, and when they are due.

The greatest concern with The Statistician Project Manager is that their job can be done by project management software. In this way, they are not needed. Often, The Statistician will become the owner of this software, and are extremely concerned with keeping it up to date. The project itself can be in shambles, delivering the wrong thing, delivering late, and with low quality, but so long as things are recorded properly, The Statistician does not feel that anything is wrong.

Fortunately, provided all they do is make lists and track that items are checked off, they do no harm to the project other than being out of touch with what is really happening on the project. The key worry of the Statistician is that they can quickly mutate into something far worse.


The Statistician project manager is difficult to solve, because the detail orientation that is in their nature is deeply ingrained, quite possibly from childhood. If someone believes lists are important, they will not suddenly change their thinking just because you tell them to. Furthermore, lists are important, but they are only a map, not the landscape itself. This confusing paradox of lists being important, yet not being the focus, makes coaching The Statistician Project Manager difficult.

The key skill The Statistician is lacking is people skills, in that they would rather interact with a list rather than interact with people. Encourage them to talk to people about what they are doing, and why they are doing it, rather than simply asking for a list of items they are working on. However, poorly executed, this can result in them micromanaging (see “The Hoverer” Project Manager).

Finally, ask them to write a paragraph-form executive summary project status rather than a list of items that are or are not complete, which will force them to think of the project more holistically.

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