I have learned to use the word impossible
with the greatest caution.
—WERNHER VON BRAUN—
Imagine this situation: You have been given a new assignment, the development and completion of a nonrecurring, complex, and costly project. By its nature as a nonrecurring assignment, the project presents you with problems you have never faced before. Your resources are limited, your budget is small, and of course the deadline is very short. While the project has been described in terms of the desired end result, that description did not include specific goals. You do not know where to start.
This situation—which is more common than we might like— challenges your management skills on many levels. You may ask for more precise definitions, but chances are you won't be able to get them. You may also ask what the project is meant to achieve, but again it may be that no one actually knows the answer. You will need to plan ahead not only to complete the project on time and within budget, but also to define the very purpose of undertaking the project. You will need to act as both manager and detective. Rarely will you be presented with a well-defined project and be asked merely to pilot your resources through to the end result. It's more likely that before going down that road, you will need to clear a path and build the road itself—define the goals and end results, and how best to begin. That is the essence of project management.
This Little Black Book is designed to help you take charge of and manage a project. That means defining what you need to achieve, bud-