100 Lessons Learned for Project Managers  

So many gems in this NASA post. Some of my favorites:

A manager who is his own systems engineer or financial manager is one who will probably try to do open heart surgery on himself.
A project manager should visit everyone who is building anything for his project at least once, should know all the managers on his project (both government and contractor), and know the integration team members. People like to know that the project manager is interested in their work, and the best proof is for the manager to visit them and see first hand what they are doing.
Never make excuses; instead, present plans of actions to be taken.
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.
Documentation does not take the place of knowledge. There is a great difference in what is supposed to be, what is thought to have been, and what the reality is. Documents are normally a static picture in time which is outdated rapidly.
Don’t be afraid to fail or you will not succeed, but always work at your skill to recover. Part of that skill is knowing who can help.
Experience may be fine but testing is better. Knowing something will work never takes the place of proving that it will.
Management principles are still the same. It is just the tools that have changed. You still should find the right people to do the work and get out of the way so they can do it.
A working meeting has about six people attending. Meetings larger than this are for information transfer.
All problems are solvable in time, so make sure you have enough schedule contingency — if you don’t, the next project manager that takes your place will.
Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing. It is also occasionally the best help you can give. Just listening is all that is needed on many occasions. You may be the boss but, if you constantly have to solve someone’s problems, you are working for him.
There is no greater motivation than giving a-good person his piece of the puzzle to control but a pat on the back or an award helps.
Never assume someone knows something or has done something unless you have asked them. Even the obvious is overlooked or ignored on occasion — especially in a high-stress activity.
Bastards, gentlemen, and ladies can be project manager. Lost souls, procrastinators, and wishy-washers cannot.
A comfortable project manager is one waiting for his next assignment or one on the verge of failure. Security is not normal to project management.
The project manager who is the smartest man on his project has done a lousy job of recruitment.

August 28th, 2012