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, Jonas Salk developing the polio vaccine — all projects. And as you know, these were all masterful successes. (Well, the products were a spectacular success, even if schedules and resource budgets were drastically 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. The first project to use modern project-management techniques — the Polaris weapons system in the early 1950s — was a technical and administrative nightmare. Teams of specialists planned and tracked the myriad of research, development, and production activities. They produced mountains of paper to document the intricate work. 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 those projects are still vital to their successes. Over the past 25 to 30 years, however, the number of projects in the regular workplace has ...