I spent many years as a practicing engineer, including many assignments as the manager of engineering projects. The projects that I managed ranged from very small to very large; as I got older and more experienced, the projects that I led tended to get larger and more complex. Our teams were in general successful in delivering systems and products that our customers found useful, and at times constituted revolutionary improvements over previous capabilities. I have been credited with saving lives, money, and time, all on a large scale.
As I progressed from project to project, I drew certain conclusions about managing such engineering projects, and developed my own techniques and methods. I took courses offered by my company in project management, and read books on the subject. I found a significant difference between what I experienced as a project manager, and what the books had to say. What I did as a project manager, what I spent my time doing and worrying about, seemed very different from what the books said.
I also, learned through my reading and research, that the overall track record of success in engineering projects is not very good. A shockingly large portion of the engineering projects that are started turn into failures.
Recently, I elected to retire from full‐time work as a practicing engineer and engineering project manager, and took an appointment at a university as a full‐time professor of engineering in a department of systems engineering. Systems ...