Project Management Lessons Learnt - By Nasa Executive

Project Management Advice From Nasa Project Director

I came across this article "128 Lessons Learned for Project Managers" written by 'Jerry Madden' - Goddard Space Flight Center (Retired) at Nasa; and it enlists quite a few project management 'advice' for project management professionals, senior management and project team members. Here are some of the quotes, I found quite useful and interesting

  • Every project is new - There is no such thing as previously flown hardware, i.e., for every new unit being built, there are hundreds of parameter that could have changed from previous one..
  • Getting involved, too much - You are required to know about project you manage however a manager gets involved like own systems engineer or financial manager is one who will probably try to do open heart surgery on himself.
  • Team is the winner - It is not project manager who does things to make them happen, it is largely get successful because of the strength and skill of their project team.
  • Do it right, at right time - Wrong decisions made early can be salvaged, but "right" decisions made late cannot.

I love this one

  • Lady luck can change things despite your track record - Not all successful managers are competent and not all failed managers are incompetent. Luck still plays a part in success or failure, but luck favors the competent, hard-working manager.

This one is really important

  • In case of a failure:
    • Get every instance of timeline, fact sheet, data/theory, everything about it
    • State data and don't forge it to force-fit a situation
    • Do not arrive at a conclusion too rapidly. Make sure any deviation from the norm is explained--remember the wrong conclusion is prologue to the next failure;
  • Constant vigilance is a project requirement
  • Communication is very crucial - It is always right thing to get across straight to the the right people to understand a personnel or technical problem. Not having conversation with right guys at right level can cause fatal problems.
  • Planning for failure - When failed projects are reviewed - it indicates that the failure were well planned to happen from the start.
  • Getting right people to do the job, makes the difference - There are rare instances where only specific man can get things right - typically these work areas are more art and skill than normal. Cherish these people and employ their services when necessary as soon as possible. Trying to get alternative people in such instances can delay the resolution miserably and the outcome is normally below standard.
  • And this one applies to project management software too - Not using modern techniques like computer systems is a great mistake, but forgetting the computer simulates thinking is still greater.