I’m on a committee at work about project management.
As with many topics, I realized I am colossally ignorant on this one.
In an effort to reduce that, I’ve started reading books on the topic.
I am far from an expert, but have come to understand several basic points (To be fair, I knew them through experience, but had not seen them laid out in such stark terms before):
Most projects fail. A couple of the books I looked at talked about a 1994 study that found that just 17 percent of projects were successful, while more than half failed. A decade later, the numbers had improved, but still just about one third of projects were completed on time and within budget.
The failure in many cases is tied to poor planning.
A discipline of business leadership called project management has emerged during the past few decades to address these issues.
The project manager can be a key person in ushering the project through from conception to inception to completion and assessment.
Jim Lewis has done project management work for more than a quarter century. His book Fundamentals of Project Management provides a solid overview of the field of project management, the role a project manager can play, the different stages of a project, and how to ensure that each one is completed effectively and on time.
For me, the book was both helpful and humbling.
Its practical approach helped me understand a project’s trajectory and the importance of breaking the work down into discrete tasks that each have a deadline. It was humbling because it revealed how many gaps there are in how I have operate, which has been more instinctive and less strategic, in much of my work life so far.
Fortunately, I am not reading the book at the end of my life, so there is time to incorporate what Lewis and others discuss moving forward.
As an adult, too, I’m also relatively accustomed to encountering my limits of knowledge, energy and understanding, so the experience wasn’t too painful.
I recommend you check out Lewis’ work when you have a chance, too.