Warning: This post contains spoilers
Many people were shocked by Avengers: Age of Ultron. The movie was darker, more philosophical and more complex than any previous Marvel superhero movie. While Ultron did come to an unexpected end, the events that led up to it left the audience asking, “What’s right to do?”
These philosophical questions should not be taken as a detriment to the fact that Ultron was a fun movie. Towns were levelled and shields were thrown. Hammers were lifted and swung. Hidden beneath the summer action movie rubble are deeper lessons in project management that every project manager should learn, regardless of their personality or superpower.
These are only eight examples.
1. Don’t hide your mistakes.
Tony Stark is well aware that it is dangerous to experiment with Loki’s staff. He also knows that uploading J.A.R.V.I.S. He knows that uploading J.A.R.V.I.S. into Ultron’s synth body is not a good idea. He does it anyway. He only tells Bruce Banner what he’s doing, which is obvious to the audience.
Stark and Banner are the only ones who know what Ultron is, even though he surprises them while they’re “reveling” They are completely unprepared and later mad about his arrival. Stark would have been open with his team about Ultron’s intentions, and the consequences for their existence. The entire world was put at risk by his impulsive and unbridled scientific exploration.
If you find yourself hiding your progress or catching a member of your team doing so, it is a strong indication that they are not motivated by the project or contributing to it.
2. Take advantage of what motivates your team.
Personal motivation is one of the subtler themes in this movie. Hawkeye wants to feel safe at home. Captain America wants to know that his cause is just and that innocents will be protected. Iron Man wants to be recognized for his genius and show it. The Hulk values his team and wants to protect those around him. Thor wants to protect Earth, help Asgard, and be friends with his fellow comrades.
(A side note: After polling my coworkers we couldn’t find a motivator for Black Widow, the main female character in the film.
Despite knowing this, the team made very few efforts to appeal to each motivator. Fury had to speak up and make each member of the team feel special. The Avengers would have been much more successful if they had a strong project leader.
3. Don’t be afraid to take on real responsibility for your team members.
Despite all that, there was a key moment in the movie where one Avenger appealed directly to another’s instincts. It was one of the most powerful moments. While on Sokovia, Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch were captured. The Scarlet Witch was afraid and didn’t want anymore fights.
Hawkeye called her to his side and appealed her sense of duty, humanity, and her need to avenge her parents’ deaths. Scarlet Witch emerges as not only a woman determined save Sokovia but also as an Avenger.
Hawkeye assumed the role of project manager. Hawkeye convinced her to put herself into the project, and she was motivated to complete her task on time and within budget. She realized that she was important and had real accountability. This helped her feel empowered. Sometimes team members need that drive to succeed.
4. Know when to criticize publicly and privately.
Captain America blurts this line out at the beginning of the movie after Iron Man swears to the Avengers intercom. Captain America is clearly annoyed by this joke, which is a running joke throughout the movie. It’s friendly poking, but it’s something else.