Projects have been around since ancient times. Noah building the ark, Leonardo da Vinci painting the Mona Lisa, Edward Gibbon writing The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and Dr Fiona Wood inventing spray-on skin for burn victims — all projects. And, as you know, these projects were all masterful successes. (Well, the products were a spectacular success, even if schedules and resource budgets were sometimes overrun!)

Why, then, is the topic of project management of such great interest today? The answer is simple: The audience has changed and the stakes are higher.

Historically, projects were large, complex undertakings. Teams of specialists planned and tracked the myriad research, development and production activities. As a result, people started to view project management as a highly technical discipline with confusing charts and graphs; they saw it as inordinately time consuming, specialist driven and definitely off limits for the common man or woman.

Because of the ever-growing array of huge, complex and technically challenging projects in today’s world, people who want to devote their careers to planning and managing them are still vital to the projects’ success. Over the past 25 to 30 years, however, the number of projects in the regular workplace has skyrocketed. Projects of all types and sizes are now the way that organisations accomplish work involving development and change.

At the same time, a new breed of Project Manager has emerged. This new breed ...

Get Project Management Essentials For Dummies, Australian and New Zealand Edition now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.