COMPANIES COME AND GO. THE LASTING ASSET IS THE PEOPLE WHO WORKED FOR THEM. PEOPLE BRING TO their new jobs the sum of their experiences—not just technical skills, but interpersonal patterns that they build up through years of dealing with colleagues and managers.
In this light, we can balance the importance of a project's formal, stated deliverables against the seemingly peripheral impressions its staff get along the way. I'd bet that you could cite very few projects from your own career whose deliverables are still in use. Taking this observation into account, I've always felt that a project's impact on the growth of its staff is just as important as the defined project goal. In fact, I see that as the premise behind this book.
This principle carries the most force in extreme cases where projects are headed inexorably for failure. I had the misfortune of working on just such a project 20 years ago. The only positive result I can remember was a moment of illumination during which I pulled together the collective wisdom of the contributors and gave it a voice.
Personal survival becomes a triumph on this kind of project, because the project challenges your professional judgment on a daily basis: the need to square jerry-rigged solutions with the team's long-term responsibilities; to maintain your integrity and your friends under unbearable scheduling pressures; to hear and nod at requests that both the bearer and the recipient know ...