Project Management – Art Or Profession?

February 16, 2009
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By Hans Bool

Management means order, control and this is truer for project management than for operational management. Operational management is more prone to the opportunities that popup day to day; it requires a more flexible approach. Project management is more focused on a single objective and that must be achieved.

So order is fine, but not every moment, nor too much and only in the right proportions.

Too much order at the start of a project will kill it. You need some chaos in the beginning to come up with creative ideas. You need people enthusiasm and you won’t get it when you walk by like a general. (More) towards the end of the project it is important to nail things down and to stress more on discipline and focus. All this can be planned.

Too much order suffocates a project. Each project needs its own dynamics. Live a bit of chaos, besides you cannot control everything. A current insight in risk management is that we cannot prevent everything, as long as we can control the fire. Maybe this should be applied to to project management. Leaving space for some improvising.

Yet, structure, order and discipline, it is all part of the professional project manager. But there are limits in structuring the lives of your project members, of the organization. It is all about finding the right balance. Even more for every organization responds differently to strict order and control.

The professional part can be learned and shaped to those who execute their role in the field. They learn how to control, to do an intake, to plan and to say “NO.”
But finding the right balance between order and discipline on one side and creativity and chaos on the other, that is more like an art…

H.J.B.

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© 2008 Hans Bool

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