What phase of a project plays the largest role in its eventual success or failure? Various answers to this question are defensible, but we think the pivotal moment often occurs early on.
Take a look at this list of the six phases of an engineering project, as one of us first learned them decades ago (source unknown):
1. Enth usiasm
4. Search for the guilty
5. Punishment of the innocent
6. Praise and honors for the nonparticipants
Your authors have participated in each of these phases, sometimes voluntarily; and it is our conviction that it is most often at the time of project inception that innocence, ...