During the course of my career, both in software development and product management, I have encountered many executives and project managers who think in terms of critical path.
With critical path analysis, you break a project down into tasks and show the dependencies among these tasks. You usually also size (show the amount of time it will take to complete) each task. You may also place all of the tasks on a timeline. The end result is a critical path diagram (CPD), which some project managers then treat as a schedule for the project.
The critical path method (CPM) of project management is antithetical to more agile, iterative methods. In a future entry, I will discuss some of the major flaws in CPM.