Saturday, January 13, 2007

Projects by "The Skin of Our Teeth"

Thornton Wilder called it "the most ambitious project I have ever approached." His play, The Skin of Our Teeth, is an allegory of the cosmic life-cycle of mankind. It asserts that we are always close to extinction due to natural disasters and our inability to learn from past mistakes. Our history is not linear, but cyclical. At the end of each cycle, we somehow manage to always rebuild and move forward. We pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and try again. This cycle of life has always fascinated me.

After over 25 years of participating in, leading, and observing projects, I can assert this same cycle exists in the world of projects. Projects used to end in "post mortems" -- today the more politically correct and sensitive term is "lessons learned". Or more like "lessons not learned", because I have seen projects repeat some of the same mistakes over and over again. And like Wilder's family, the Antrobuses, the project manager and participants pick themselves up, dust off, and try again.

This blog is dedicated to lessons learned, lessons not learned, and generally interesting stories of project management that both educate and amuse. Each week I'll post one story from a "project notebook". The intent isn't to name names or embarass, so any lesson learned without a positive outcome won't name the parties involved. By covering this type of material, we can all hopefully avoid those continued mistakes that lead to our undoing. Why keep doing the things that lead to our failure or downfall?

I'd also like to invite you, my readers, to submit lessons learned for me to write about. Or perhaps you just have a question about project management I can answer for you. Just drop me a line at

In the meantime, I wish you all successful projects!

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