Psychogram of a Gambler


Project Business Management


By Oliver F. Lehmann

Munich, Germany

“I haven’t won yet, but I act like a rich man in my feelings and thoughts
and can’t even imagine that I wouldn’t be.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, “The Gambler”


Some players in Project Business are gamblers by addiction. The name of their game is Project Business, and they play with other people’s fortune. To understand the behavior of gamblers, this article analyses the actions of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, who exposes the clear signals of the addiction on the grandest possible scale, world politics. Then it asks, what people and organizations involved with project business can do to protect themselves and their projects.

Gamblers in Project Business

Most relationships between customers and contractors in Project Business Management are relatively harmonious. They understand their obligations to each other and to the mission success of the project. They meet their contractual commitments and do their best to make a smooth project possible, about which everyone involved can later say: “I made this.”

Unfortunately, there are exceptions. Projects that are jammed by destructive conflicts and by harmful behavior of a small number of people or organizations involved.

Addictions are among the root causes of such harmful behavior. Addiction changes people’s minds, behaviors, and values. An addiction that I saw repeatedly in Project Business is gambling. Often, gamblers do not only damage themselves but also their environments, such as families and friends. Many don’t even go to a casino to play, instead, they see the project as their favorite game and can wreak havoc on a project and the people involved.

To understand the dynamics of this addiction, this article looks into the actions of Russia’s President Putin and gives some hints about what people in Project Business can do to protect themselves, their projects, and the organizations involved.

Vladimir Putin’s Place in History

History knows many examples of military confrontations, when a superior army, outnumbering its enemy in headcount and excelling it in weaponry, lost against the weaker party. And history does not treat the losing leaders graciously.

Here are some examples:

331 BC:       Battle of Gaugamela:

Alexander of Macedonia, with his Greek forces, won against the army of King Darius III of Persia at Gaugamela in today’s Iraq. Darius’s army is estimated to have been four times larger than Alexander’s. Still, with a brilliant strategy, Alexander outwitted his opponent, whose army and finally rule over the Persian empire he destroyed. Since this battle, he has been called “Alexander the Great”.

9 AD:          Battle in the Teutoburg Forest:

Three Roman legions, six auxiliary cohorts, and three cavalry squadrons adding up to between 14,000[1] and 23,000 soldiers under the command of Publius Quinctilius Varus were defeated in the Teutoburger Forest in Northern Germany by estimated 15,000 men from an alliance of Germanic tribes under Arminius, a Roman officer who was abducted from his German home as a child. The Roman army was superior in weaponry, armor, and training but could not deploy their strength in an ambush laid by the Germans in a dense forest.

1415 AD:    Battle of Azincourt:

In this battle in Northern France, an English army of around 7,000 men under King Henry V defeated a French army estimated at 40,000 soldiers under the command of Charles d’Albret and prominent French noble people. The knights of the French nobility wore heavy plate armor while most English soldiers were poorly protected archers, each with a longbow to shoot over distance and a dagger or a short sword to fight in melees.

None of these losing leaders fared well during and after the fight. King Darius fled from the battle when he saw his army getting defeated. While he later tried to rebuild his armed forces to fight the Greeks, his own generals killed him and gave his body to Alexander. Varus killed himself on the battlefield, where he lost his legions, and d’Albret fell in the battle desperately trying to keep his forces under control.

There are more examples of against-all-odds military defeats. Not only was their fate unkind to them; history scholars and students do also not keep them in a positive light. Instead, they use these military leaders as archetypical examples of hubris and gross incompetence.

Vladimir Putin’s place in history is likely to become similar. The observation while I am writing this article in late March 2022, a month after Putin began the brutal assault on Russia’s neighbor state Ukraine, is clear: His troops are in misery. Devoid of significant military successes, his army has turned to destroying civilian targets, including hospitals, nurseries, and shelters with hundreds of civilians inside, among them elderly people, mothers, and children. Many of his soldiers have been killed; others deserted the Russian army…


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Editor’s note: This series of articles is by Oliver Lehmann, author of the book “Project Business Management” (ISBN 9781138197503), published by Auerbach / Taylor & Francis in 2018. See author profile below.

How to cite this article: Lehman, O. F. (2022) Psychogram of a Gambler, PM World Journal, Vol XI, Issue IV, April. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/pmwj116-Apr2022-Lehmann-Psychogram-of-a-Gambler-3.pdf

[1] All numbers in this text are estimates.

About the Author

Oliver F. Lehmann

Munich, Germany


Oliver F. Lehmann, MSc, ACE, PMP, is a project management educator, author, consultant, and speaker. In addition, he is the President of the Project Business Foundation, the home association for professionals and organizations involved in cross-corporate projects.

He studied Linguistics, Literature and History at the University of Stuttgart and Project Management at the University of Liverpool, UK, where he holds a Master of Science Degree. Oliver has trained thousands of project managers in Europe, USA and Asia in methodological project management with a focus on certification preparation. In addition, he is a visiting lecturer at the Technical University of Munich.

He has been a member and volunteer at PMI, the Project Management Institute, since 1998, and served as the President of the PMI Southern Germany Chapter from 2013 to 2018. Between 2004 and 2006, he contributed to PMI’s PM Network magazine, for which he provided a monthly editorial on page 1 called “Launch”, analyzing troubled projects around the world.

Oliver believes in three driving forces for personal improvement in project management: formal learning, experience and observations. He resides in Munich, Bavaria, Germany and can be contacted at oliver@oliverlehmann.com

Oliver Lehmann is the author of the books:

His previous articles and papers for PM World Journal can be found here: https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/oliver-f-lehmann/

[1] All numbers in this text are estimates.