Cleaning out my old office space last month I turned up Jerry Madden's "One Hundred Rules for NASA Project Managers", a dozen pages that look as though I must have printed them off the Web half a dozen years ago, for leisurely reading and thinking about. Many of the rules are a bit pedestrian or space-program-specific or dated, but quite a few are well-phrased and still of great general relevance. Ten examples:

  • #8: Running fast does not take the place of thinking for yourself. You must take time to smell the roses. For your work, you must take time to understand the consequences of your actions.
  • #10: 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. (See UltraMan (8 May 2002) for Paul Ammann's comments re luck. - ^z)
  • #43: Documentation does not take the place of knowledge. There is a great difference in what is supposed to be, what is thought to have happened, and reality. Documents are normally a static picture in time that get outdated rapidly. (True of attempts to write "history" in general, eh? - ^z)
  • #56: The first sign of trouble comes from the schedule or the cost curve. Engineers are the last to know they are in trouble. Engineers are born optimists.
  • #66: Don't assume you know why senior management has done something. If you feel you need to know, ask. You will get some amazing answers that will astonish you.
  • #68: Remember the boss has the right to make decisions. Even if you think they are wrong, tell the boss what you think but if he still wants it done his way, do it his way and do your best to make sure the outcome is successful.
  • #74: 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. (See OneDeep (15 Nov 1999) for comments on "engineering reserves". - ^z)
  • #82: Wrong decisions made early can be recovered from. Right decisions made late cannot correct them.
  • #83: 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. ... (Good advice for a marriage! - ^z)
  • #93: Things that fail are lessons learned for the future. Occasionally things go right; these are also lessons learned. Try to duplicate that which works.

(from "One Hundred Rules for NASA Project Managers", by Jerry Madden, edited by Rod Stewart, dated 1 January 1995)

TopicOrganizations - 2002-06-02

(correlates: DiplomatAtArms, CatchingOn, NoProblem, ...)