Like many things in life, the more things change, the more they
stay the same. Interest in project management remains fairly high,
though there has been some decline in recent years. However, the
practice of project management remains questionable, as project
failures continue to be almost as numerous as they were when the
first and second editions of this book were published.
It is one thing to talk about project management and an
entirely different thing to do it. It seems to me there are a lot of
talkers out there but
not many do-ers.
This year, 2006, marks my 25th anniversary as a project manager
instructor and consultant. I have personally trained over
30,000 individuals in project management. Yet my guess is that less
than ten percent of them actually practice what they learned.
There are many reasons, but the foremost is probably that the organization
does not support them in practicing formal project management.
In the United States, and perhaps in many other
countries, there is a preference for action rather than planning. We
just want to get the job done, and planning is often viewed as a
waste of time.
This is not true, but it is the perception. In fact, one hour spent
Preface to the
in planning will generally save about three hours in execution time.
As I have heard it expressed, you have to go slow to go fast.
One example of the validity of this statement is that in 1983
the San Diego Builder’s Association conducted a competition to see
how fast they could build a single-family house. This was a house
built on a cement slab, approximately 2000 square feet in size, and
when finished, had sod grass in the yard, was fully wired, carpeted,
and was ready to be occupied. The house was not prefabricated,
nor was the cement slab poured when the starting gun was fired.
Two houses were built simultaneously by two different work
crews. The winning team finished their house in an incredible two
hours and forty-five minutes!
You may ask how this can be, as the slab takes several days to
completely cure. They mixed exothermic chemicals in the cement
to make it gel faster—it was cured in 45 minutes.
The previous week, two identical houses were built, and the
time required was six hours. What they learned from these two
houses was incorporated into changes to the plan, so that the next
week, they cut the time by more than 50 percent—showing the
value of lessons-learned reviews.
The point of all this is simple—you don’t build a house in twohours-
and-forty-five minutes unless you have a really good plan, so
the message is that, if time is really important to you, then you
should take time to plan your projects.
While this book is intended to give a quick overview of project
management—the tools, techniques, and discipline as a whole—it
does contain what you need to manage your projects. But as obvious
as it may seem, reading the book won’t speed up your work.
You have to apply the tools and techniques, and if you do, you can
be sure your projects will go a lot better. Good luck.