To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.Project Management Lessons from History

You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks. 

A kite flies against the wind, not with it. 

It’s no use saying, ‘We are doing our best.’ You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary. 

If you’re going through hell, keep going.

Sometimes doing your best is not good enough. Sometimes you must do what is required. 

Dogs look up to you, cats look down on you. Give me a pig. He just looks you in the eye and treats you as an equal.

I never worry about action, but only about inaction.

The price of greatness is responsibility.

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.

“The Buck Stops here” – Management Lesson from President Truman | Project Management, History, Lessons Learned, Ankit Vaid, Trueman

Popularized by US president Harry Truman. The phrase is based on the metaphorical expression passing the buck, derived from poker gameplay, that came to mean “passing blame”, or absolving oneself of responsibility or concern by denying authority or jurisdiction over a given matter.

in an address at the National War College on December 19, 1952 Mr. Truman said, “You know, it’s easy for the Monday morning quarterback to say what the coach should have done, after the game is over. But when the decision is up before you — and on my desk I have a motto which says The Buck Stops Here’ — the decision has to be made.” In his farewell address to the American people given in January 1953, President Truman referred to this concept very specifically in asserting that, “The President–whoever he is–has to decide. He can’t pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That’s his job.

Project Management History Lessons - President Truman - Ankit Vaid Blog

President Truman at his desk

Project Management History Lessons - President Truman - Ankit Vaid Blog

The Buck Stops here !

We managers need to make sure the Buck stops at us or know the right person, create right environment to make the buck stop and take final call.

Winston Churchill on – Metrics | Project Management, History Lessons, Ankit Vaid, Blog, Winston Churchill, Agile

“No matter how beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results”

Deliver, Quantify, Analyze — Repeat.

Winston has been referred in many Software Metrics books. He coined above quote and was responsible for initiating the process of Retrospectives and Metrics. In many instances he used to make sure after a win, his team creates and analyzes the metrics.




3 lessons on Productivity from Winston Churchill | Project Management, History Lessons, Winston Churchill, Agile, Productivity

Winston Churchill History Lessons

Winston Churchill History Lessons for Project Managers


There are many lessons to be gathered from this leader who was responsible for Britain’s re-org and agile governance during World War II .

For Productivity:

  1. Work Environment Matters:
    Make sure you are comfortable in your work environment.  Winston Churchill used to spend most of his morning in bed.. working. Just make sure you as a manager need to think about n different aspects. in case of distractions do not let it linger and wait for right time for your to get idea or think and write that email. Just make sure you initiate in right place. A laptop on bed, or with morning coffee on dining table or going to near by Coffee Shop to work is always going to help.
  2. Priority – need to be simplified:
    We need to cut the crap, there is a lot on emails from clients, team members with different aspects. Make sure the way people communicate they understand your time and escalation mode in simplified way.

    1. Priority on Email:
      • Ask them to write an email with ** Urgent Question for Ankit** when they email you.
      • Emails create a lot of noise, we are in CC of n-number of emails which we really need not to read and follow up. Make sure team is aware of it.
    2. Priority in Defects / Tasks:
      • Priority and Severity to coins which decide a task to be accomplished most of times create confusions in case your organization is not ready for it. Simply it.. ask for keeping either priority or severity. Define the clear direction to be taken among them.
      • Emails create a lot of noise, we are in CC of n-number of emails which we really need not to read and follow up. Make sure team is aware of it.

      Churchill used throughout his career in government. He used this system to delegate tasks to others, but I look at from the other side. How I handle tasks coming in.

      As Churchill would dictate memos, which he often did while in bed, he would add one of two tags to the memo before it went out. Urgent memos were tagged “Action this day.” For these, he expected a response or action to happen the same day the memo was issued. For less urgent memos, he would tag it (in a different color) “Respond in 3 days.” This meant he expected a response within 3 days of the memo being received.

  3. Message to be brief:
    Churchil used to ask his team to send him not more than 1 page of typed letter. This always used to keep his team on toes to understand and simply the message for him. This helps improve my thinking on the subject, but it also is sensitive to the time of my correspondents.



Project Management – Learning from History | Project management, PM, lessons

We have had many lessons from History. To be learned , to be categorized and to be understood.

Launching a new E-commerce Website with limited resources is nothing compared to World War II or Apollo 13.

This blog is an effort to tame these resources and put them in more categorized way we want to look at.

Making “Things” Happen – Review

The Best book on management.



A must have in your bookshelf:

Amazon review:

1. Calm down. Nothing makes a situation worse than basing your actions on fear, anger, or frustration. If something bad happens to you, you will have these emotions whether you’re aware of them or not. They will also influence your thinking and behavior whether you’re aware of it or not. (Rule of thumb: the less aware you are of your feelings, the more vulnerable you are to them influencing you.) Don’t flinch or overreact—be patient, keep breathing, and pay attention. 

2. Evaluate the problem in relation to the project. Just because someone else thinks the sky has fallen doesn’t mean that it has. Is this really a problem at all? Whose problem is it? How much of the project (or its goals) is at risk or may need to change because of this situation: 5%? 20%? 90%? Put things in perspective. Will anyone die because of this mistake (you’re not a brain surgeon, are you?)? Will any cities be leveled? Plagues delivered on the innocent? Help everyone frame the problem to the right emotional and intellectual scale. Ask tons of questions and get people thinking rather than reacting. Work to eliminate assumptions. Make sure you have a tangible understanding of the problem and its true impact. Then, prioritize: emergency (now!), big concern (today), minor concern (this or next week), bogus (never). Know how long your fuse is to respond and prioritize this new issue against all existing work. If it’s a bogus issue, make sure whoever cried wolf learns some new questions to ask before raising the red flag again. 

3. Calm down again. Now that you know something about the problem, you might really get upset (“How could those idiots let happen!?”). Find a way to express emotions safely: scream at the sky, workout at the gym, or talk to a friend. But do express them. Know what works for you, and use it. Then return to the problem. Not only do you need to be calm to make good decisions, but you need your team to be calm. Pay attention to who is upset and help them calm down. Humor, candor, food, and drink are good places to start. Being calm and collected yourself goes a long way toward calming others. And taking responsibility for the situation (see the later section “Take responsibility”), regardless of whose fault it was, accelerates a team’s recovery from a problem.

4. Get the right people in the room Any major problem won’t impact you alone. Identify who else is most responsible, knowledgeable, and useful and get them in together straight away. Pull them out of other meetings and tasks: if it’s urgent, act with urgency, and interrupt anything that stands in your way. Sit them down, close the door, and run through what you learned in step 2. Keep this group small; the more complex the issue, the smaller the group should be. Also, consider that (often) you might not be part of this group: get the people in the room, communicate the problem, and then delegate. Offer your support, but get out of their way (seriously—leave the room if you’re not needed). Clearly identify who is in charge for driving this issue to resolution, whether it’s you or someone else.

5. Explore alternatives. After answering any questions and clarifying the situation, figure out what your options are. Sometimes this might take some research: delegate it out. Make sure it’s flagged as urgent if necessary; don’t ever assume people understand how urgent something is. Be as specific as possible in your expectation for when answers are needed.

6. Make the simplest plan. Weigh the options, pick the best choice, and make a simple plan. The best available choice is the best available choice, no matter how much it sucks (a crisis is not the time for idealism). The more urgent the issue, the simpler your plan. The bigger the hole you’re in, the more direct your path out of it should be. Break the plan into simple steps to make sure no one gets confused. Identify two lists of people: those whose approval you need for the plan, and those who need to be informed of the plan before it is executed. Go to the first group, present the plan, consider their feedback, and get their support. Then communicate that information to the second group.

7. Execute. Make it happen. Ensure whoever is doing the work was involved in the process and has an intimate understanding of why he’s doing it. There is no room for assumption or ambiguity. Have specific checkpoints (hourly, daily, weekly) to make sure the plan has the desired effect and to force you and others in power to consider any additional effort that needs to be spent on this issue. If new problems do arise, start over at step 1.

8. Debrief. After the fire is out, get the right people in the room and generate a list of lessons learned. (This group may be different from the right people in step 4 because you want to include people impacted by, but not involved in, the decision process.) Ask the question: “What can we do next time to avoid this?” The bigger the issue, the more answers you’ll have to this question. Prioritize the list. Consider who should be responsible for making sure each of the first few items happens.





Project Management – Quotes – (Risk, Schedules)

Risks and Risk Management

  • “Assumption is the mother of all screw-ups.” — Wethern’s Law of Suspended Judgement
  • “PMs are the most creative pros in the world; we have to figure out everything that could go wrong, before it does.” –- Fredrik Haren
  • “Project proposals, business cases or cost benefit analyses are probably being massaged (either by underestimating costs or timeframes or by being very optimistic about the benefits) so projects will be approved.” -– Bentley and Borman
  • “When a risk occurs, with some ingenuity, this may open up an opportunity, and conversely when pursuing an opportunity there will be associated risks. Risks are generally deemed acceptable if the possible gains exceed the possible losses.” –- Rory Burke

Schedule and Time

  • “Beware the time-driven project with an artificial deadline.” — M. Dobson
  • “It is useless to desire more time if you are already wasting what little you have.” -— James Allen
  • “Projects progress quickly until they become 90% complete; then remain at 90% complete forever.” -– Edwards, Butler, Hill and Russell
  • “The functional groups should not be allowed to stretch out the project for the sake of improvement, refinement, or the investigation of the most remote potential risk.” -– Meredith and Mantel
  • “There is nothing more perishable than an airline seat – unless it is time on a project.” — Joy Gumz
  • “You may con a person into committing to an unreasonable deadline, but you cannot bully them into meeting it.” -– Edwards, Butler, Hill, and Russell

Quotes on – “Vision”


  • “All things are created twice; first mentally; then physically.  The key to creativity is to begin with the end in mind, with a vision and a blue print of the desired result.” — Stephen Covey
  • “Effective leaders help others to understand the necessity of change and to accept a common vision of the desired outcome.” — John Kotter
  • “Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.” — Henry Miller
  • “Every person takes the limits of their own field of vision for the limits of the world.” — Arthur Schopenhauer
  • “First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.” –- Napoleon Hill
  • “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” — Jack Welch
  • “He who has a ‘why’ to live for can bear with almost any ‘how’.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
  • “I think there is something, more important than believing: Action! The world is full of dreamers, there aren’t enough who will move ahead and begin to take concrete steps to actualize their vision.” — W. Clement Stone
  • “If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants.” — Isaac Newton
  • “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” -— Albert Einstein
  • “It’s easy to see, hard to foresee.” — Benjamin Franklin
  • “Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.” — Gail Devers
  • “People are more inclined to be drawn in if their leader has a compelling vision. Great leaders help people get in touch with their own aspirations and then will help them forge those aspirations into a personal vision.” — John Kotter
  • “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” — John C. Maxwell
  • “Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with Vision is making a positive difference.” — Joel Barker
  • “Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” — Jonathan Swift
  • “When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” — Audre Lorde
  • “With vision there is no room to be frightened., No reason for intimidation. It’s time to march forward! Let’s be confident and positive!” — Charles R. Swindoll

Project Management – Quotes – 2 (Process/QA)

Plans and Planning

  • “A good plan can help with risk analyses but it will never guarantee the smooth running of the project.” -– Bentley and Borman
  • “A project without a critical path is like a ship without a rudder.” — D. Meyer
  • “A well-constructed project management workshop should give people a solid foundation to build on.” -– Bentley and Borman
  • “For a project plan to be effective it must equally address the parameters of ‘activity time’ and ‘activity logic’. This logical relationship is required to model the effect schedule variance will have down stream in the project.” -– Rory Burke
  • “Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.” –- Fred Brooks
  • “Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” -– Peter Drucker
  • “Plans are worthless, but planning is invaluable.” -— Peter Drucker
  • “Running a project without a WBS is like going to a strange land without a roadmap.” — J. Phillips
  • “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” -— Goethe
  • “This ad hoc approach to project management – coupled as it frequently is, with an on-the-job training philosophy – is pervasive. It is also pernicious.” — Jack Meredith
  • “Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes … but no plans.” -– Peter Drucker
  • “What is truth today may be falsehood tomorrow. Never confuse your plan with truth.” -– Woody Williams
  • “When the territory and the map disagree, believe the territory.” — Swiss Army Manual
  • “You can’t keep it all in your head. Project control tools are an absolute necessity for the control of large projects.” -– Louis Fried


  • “An intelligent person armed with a checklist is no substitute for experience.” — Joy Gumz
  • “At times, project managers seem to forget that many of the conventional forms, charts, and tables that they must fill out are intended to serve as aids, not punishments.” — Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, and Sutton
  • “Before anything can be repeatable or reusable, it must be usable.” -– Woody Williams
  • “Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.” –- Sun Tzu
  • “If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.” — W. Edwards Deming
  • “It is not a question of how well each process works; the question is how well they all work together.” — Lloyd Dobyns and Clare Crawford-Mason
  • “Process for process sake is not good for goodness sake.” — Lynn A. Edmark
  • “You can only elevate individual performance by elevating that of the entire system.” — W. Edwards Deming

Project Cycle

  • “A project is complete when it starts working for you, rather than you working for it.” -– Scott Allen
  • “‘Begin at the beginning,’ the King said gravely, ‘and go on till you come to the end; then stop.’”— Lewis Carroll
  • “Like organic entities, projects have life cycles. From a slow beginning they progress to a buildup of size, then peak, begin a decline, and finally must be terminated. (Also, like other organic entities, they often resist termination.)” –- Meredith and Mantel


  • “External audits are routine in the financial area. I fail to understand why nonprofits don’t use them more in the vital program area.” — E. Stoesz
  • “Testing proves the presence of bugs but not their absence.” –- Woody Williams
  • “The testers won’t break the system but the user who thinks the cd-rom drive as a drinks holder will.” –- Cornelius Fitchner
  • “There are two types of software : bad software and the next release.” –- Cornelius Fitchner
  • “When debugging, novices insert corrective code; experts remove defective code.” –- Richard Pattis
  • “When end users get involved in the final stages of testing, light bulbs go on, and they often have an “aha” moment. Unfortunately, that is often too late.” — Frank R. Parth

Project Management – Quotes – 1

Top 10 Project Management Quotes

  1. “A {specification, design, procedure, test plan} that will not fit on one page cannot be understood.” – Mark Ardis
  2. “All things are created twice; first mentally; then physically.  The key to creativity is to begin with the end in mind, with a vision and a blue print of the desired result.” — Stephen Covey
  3. “Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there.” — Will Rogers
  4. “No matter how good the team or how efficient the methodology, if we’re not solving the right problem, the project fails.” –- Woody Williams
  5. “No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra.” — H.E. Luccock
  6. “Of all the things I’ve done, the most vital is coordinating the talents of those who work for us and pointing them towards a certain goal.” — Walt Disney
  7. “Planning without action is futile, action without planning is fatal.” — Cornelius Fitchner
  8. “Trying to manage a project without project management is like trying to play a football game without a game plan.” — K. Tate
  9. “We will either find a way, or make one.” –– Hannibal
  10. “When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” — Audre Lorde

What is Project Management and What Do Project Managers Do

  • “Being a Project Manager is like being an artist, you have the different colored process streams combining into a work of art” -– Greg Cimmarrusti
  • “Operations keeps the lights on, strategy provides a light at the end of the tunnel, but project management is the train engine that moves the organization forward.” — Joy Gumz
  • “Project management can be defined as a way of developing structure in a complex project, where the independent variables of time, cost, resources and human behavior come together.”-– Rory Burke
  • “Project management is like juggling three balls – time, cost and quality. Program management is like a troupe of circus performers standing in a circle, each juggling-three balls and swapping balls from time to time.” — G. Reiss
  • “Project management is the art of creating the illusion that any outcome is the result of a series of predetermined, deliberate acts when, in fact, it was dumb luck.” –-  Harold Kerzner
  • “Project managers function as bandleaders who pull together their players each a specialist with individual score and internal rhythm. Under the leader’s direction, they all respond to the same beat.” — L.R. Sayles
  • “Project managers rarely lack organisational visibility, enjoy considerable variety in their day- to-day duties, and often have the prestige associated with work on the enterprise’s high- priority objectives.” –- Meredith and Mantel
  • “The P in PM is as much about ‘people management’ as it is about ‘project management’.” -– Cornelius Fichtner
  • “The project manager is expected to integrate all aspects of the project, ensure that the proper knowledge and resources are available when and where needed, and above all, ensure that the expected results are produced in a timely, cost- effective manner.” -– Meredith and Mantel
  • “The project manager must be able to develop a fully integrated information and control system to plan, instruct, monitor and control large amounts of data, quickly and accurately to facilitate the problem-solving and decision- making process.” –- Rory Burke
  • “Whilst you can practice good project management without EVM, you cannot practice EVM effectively without good project management.” — Steve Crowther
  • “Why do so many professionals say they are project managing, when what they are actually doing is fire fighting?” -– Colin Bentley

Action and Tasks

  • “A task is not done until it is done.” -– Louis Frie
  • “Add little to little and there will be a big pile” –- Ovid
  • “An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.” –  Friedrich Engels
  • “Each completed task establishes certain parameters and imposes constraints on the next task.” -– Louis Fried
  • “He has half the deed done who has made a beginning.” – Horace
  • “If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough.” — Mario Andretti
  • “Momentum is a fragile force. Its worst enemy: procrastination. Its best friend: a deadline (think Election Day). Implication no. 1 (and there is no no. 2): Get to work! NOW!” -– Tom Peters
  • “Pharmaceutical projects are like fresh fruit – they depreciate if they are not tended to, and they do poorly if sitting on the shelf with long periods of inactivity.” — R. Burns
  • “Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” — Peter Drucker
  • “Some things are better done than described.” –- Hunt and Thomas
  • “To get a project off the ground, tell a colleague it was their idea. They will put their heart and soul into making it successful.” — T. Wouhra
  • “Working ten hour days allows you to fall behind twice as fast as you could working five hour days.” -– Issac Assimov

Change and Change Management

  • “Change is not made without inconvenience, even from worse to better.” –- Samuel Johnson
  • “Event management is the same as for any project – the project plan needs to include an appropriate change control process.” — Brenda Treasure
  • “It is always easier to talk about change than to make it.” — Alvin Toffler
  • “It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out nor more doubtful of success nor more dangerous to handle than to initiate a new order of things.” –- Machiavelli
  • “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” –- George Bernard Shaw


  • “Data is like garbage.  You’d better know what you are going to do with it before you collect it.”— Mark Twain
  • “Don’t use a sledgehammer to crack a walnut, but equally don’t agree important things informally where there is a chance of a disagreement later over what was agreed.” -– Colin Bentley
  • “Ensure your documentation is short and sharp and make much more use of people-to-people communication.” -– Bentley and Borman
  • “If it is not documented, it doesn’t exist.  As long information is retained in someone’s head, it is vulnerable to loss.” -– Louis Fried
  • “Never allow a person to tell you no who doesn’t have the power to say yes.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
  • “Reconnaissance memoranda should always be written in the simplest style and be purely descriptive. They should never stray from their objective by introducing extraneous ideas.” –- Napoleon Bonaparte
  • “The conditions attached to a promise are forgotten and the promise is remembered.” -– Edwards, Butler, Hill and Russell
  • “What is not on paper has not been said.” – Anonymous
  • “Unengaged sponsor sinks the ship.” – Angela Waner

Failure and Learning

  • “I have witnessed boards that continued to waste money on doomed projects because no one was prepared to admit they were failures, take the blame and switch course. Smaller outfits are more willing to admit mistakes and dump bad ideas.” — Luke Johnson
  • “If an IT project works the first time, it was a very small and simple project.” -– Cornelius Fitchner
  • “If an IT project works the first time, it was in your nightly dreams. Time to wake up and get to work.” –- Cornelius Fitchner
  • “If you always blame others for your mistakes, you will never improve.” — Joy Gumz
  • “If you have never recommended canceling a project, you haven’t been an effective project manager.” -– Woody Williams
  • “In NASA, we never punish error. We only punish the concealment of error.” — Al Siepert
  • “In poorly run projects, problems can go undetected until the project fails. It’s like the drip … drip … drip of an leaky underground pipe. Money is being lost, but you don’t see it until there is an explosion.” — Joy Gumz
  • “It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.” – James Thurber
  • “It’s not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what’s required.” -– Winston Churchill
  • “Know when to cut your losses if necessary. Don’t let your desire to succeed be the enemy of good judgment. If Napoleon had left Moscow immediately, he may have returned with a salvageable army.” -– Jerry Manas
  • “No major project is ever installed on time, within budget, with the same staff that started it.” -– Edwards, Butler, Hill and Russell
  • “Skills can be learned while experience must be earned.” — Joy Gumz
  • What we learn from lessons learned is that we don?t learn from lessons learned.” — T. Block