Frank Patrick pointed me to more sensible project management discussion at Stephen Seay's ProjectSteps. The recent entry, When Project Managers Attack!, highlights three basic rules of project management:
Rule #1 - Team Conflict hurts Projects!
Rule #2 - Management Apathy Hurts Projects!
Rule #3 - Poor Planning Hurts Projects!
It doesn't get much more obvious than that, but it is so easy to forget. Written this way, I see the question "what is important" in blinking, pink, 10-foot-high neon. We darned humans are susceptible to shifting focus. Team conflict is people are looking at the trees, not the forest. Or they are all in different forests to begin with. Management apathy (about your project) suggests they have gotten to their next big thing or that the project was never important. And poor planning wraps back to rules one and two, since smooth teams and engaged management want success, and success comes from understanding the goals and how to get there: planning.
I saw the effects of Rule #3 in a recent engagement, where we seemed to have our eyes on the prize, but it turned out that no one really knew how to get from here to there. We did a lot of great preparatory work, but when it came down to "get started," we discovered all sorts of new requirements and internal processes that needed to be managed, and no one was prepared. This ended up delaying startup for three months.