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The Art of Project Management by Scott Berkun

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1.2. Web development, kitchens, and emergency rooms

One problem with history is that it's not always relatable. It can be hard to apply lessons across decades and sustain empathy for things that seem so different from how work is done today. One alternative is to make comparisons with interesting kinds of modern projects. While this doesn't have the gravitas of engineering history, it does allow for first-person experiences and observations. Often, seeing things firsthand is the only way to give people enough information to make connections among diverse ideas.

As an example, I know a web developer who believes that his work is unlike anything else in the history of the universe. He feels that because web development requires him to make complex engineering decisions—designing and coordinating as he goes, verifying changes in a matter of hours or even minutes, and then publishing it all to the world—his project and task management is unlike anything ever seen before. He is proud to rattle off CSS, XHTML, Flash, Java, and other technologies he has mastered, claiming that they would have baffled the greatest minds 50 years ago. I'm sure that in your experience, you've met people like him. Or perhaps you have worked in situations where it seemed improbable that anyone else in the universe ever managed anything as complex as what you were doing.

I suggested to this developer friend that he wander into the back of his favorite lunch establishment on a busy day. For a variety of reasons, ...

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