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Knowledge - MAX

Starting with the Pyramids
For example, some of these problems were encountered in the construction of the earliest pyramid at
Saqqara in Egypt, which was the first stone building of any size to be found in the world. It was
commissioned by King Zoser of the third dynasty and while the king was the "sponsor" of this project,
the "project manager" was one of his ministers, Imhotep.
We are told that "Although no trustworthy details of the lives of Zoser and Imhotep have come down,
we can be sure that they were able men who worked long and effectively together. Probably Imhotep
was a universal genius like Archimedes and Leonardo da Vinci. Such was his repute as a physician,
architect, writer, statesman, and all-round sage that in later times collections of wise sayings circulated
under his name."1
Thus was born the reputation of the project manager. This particular project was not without its own
problems, however. The account goes on "[previously] . . . Egyptian kings and nobles were buried in a
tomb called a mastaba . . . [but] . . . Zoser and Imhotep . . . built a stone mastaba of unusual size and
shape. It was square instead of oblong like its predecessors, and was over 200 feet on a side and 26 feet
"Not yet satisfied, Zoser and Imhotep enlarged this mastaba twice by adding stone to the sides. Before.
the second of these enlargements was completed, the king changed his mind again. He decided not only
to enlarge the structure still further, but also to make it into a stepped pyramid, resembling four square
mastabas of decreasing size piled one atop the other. Then Zoser changed his mind once more. The tomb
ended as a stepped pyramid of six stages, 200 feet high on abase 358 by 411 feet. . ."
Scope creep and Exercising Control
Since a creeping scope was clearly evident during this project's implementation, one must conclude that
Imhotep was well acquainted with the principles of scope change management. On the other hand, it is
doubtful if Imhotep was plagued with the current-day problems of "gaining and retaining team
commitment", for he had available to him a powerful enticement. Those who failed to perform could be
summarily executed.
Today, this form of incentive has been mostly discredited, though not entirely. Its modem-day
equivalent, summary dismissal, is to be found in the corporate world, but has the attendant difficulties of
endless litigation if not conducted in a very careful manner.
Over the centuries, the classic master-servant relationship continued to serve projects well, for major
works continued to be built, including the seven wonders of the world. It was not until the early
twentieth century, however, that serious attention was given to the idea of "management", and then only
in the context of maintaining efficiency and continuity of an on-going operation, rather than for the
development of a "project. Many and varied have been the techniques promoted from time to time, some
with catchy buzz names. While some have stood the test of time, others have passed by only as
temporary "management fads".
One suspects that many were created simply to catch the imagination for purposes of selling consulting
services to senior management — a sort of elixir of (management) life! Nevertheless, project oriented
techniques began to emerge such as work study, graphical portrayal of activities (Gantt charts),
management-by-objectives, and more recently, total quality management.
Technical versus People Management
A particular and major breakthrough was the development of "network analysis" and the concept of
"critical path". This grew out of the US Navy's complex Polaris program and NASA's Apollo program in
the fifties and sixties. For many years and even to the present day, the critical path method, or CPM, and
its associated "probability" techniques have been viewed as the essence of project management in terms
of planning and controlling project performance.
More recently, however, we have seen a definite shift to the "human" side of project management and
the incorporation of techniques essential for dealing with people equitably and effectively. At the same
time, there has been a growing recognition that the creation of large physical projects, such as facilities
and infrastructure, are not the only types of project to which these techniques can be applied. Indeed,
projects can be many and varied, including "intellectual" type projects such as the introduction of new
administrative systems, attitude changes and even cultural changes have been attempted in some
Today, we have a much better understanding of the holistic aspects of project management. For
example, we know that project management and corporate management have fundamentally different
orientations as indicated in Table 1. Specific differences between "project' and "enterprise" management
are shown in Table 2. We also know that a "project" is essentially a "process" which leads to the
delivery of a "product" within the confines of certain "constraints".. Occasionally, the term "project" is
used loosely in substitution for the term "product", but this inevitably leads to confusion.

We know too that this project process is susceptible to the application of a systematic and logical
sequence. In its most basic form, this may be described as "Plan first, then produce". The benefit of
applying such systematic logic is that the process itself may be improved in its performance.
The Implications of Improving Performance
Why should we want to improve performance? Because the overall goal of project management is not
only to achieve successful results but to be seen to have done so. This translates into stakeholder or
"customer satisfaction".
Over the last two decades, there has been much study and discussion on the contents of the project
management process. Currently, the Project Management Institute has identified ten major elements
forming the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK). These consist of four core objectives
(or constraints): the management functions of scope, quality, time, and cost; and four interactive and
adaptable management functions of risk, human resources, contract/procurement and
information/communications. In addition there are the elements of integration and success, all of which
can be managed.
This complex relationship can be conveniently illustrated as shown in Figure 1.

Craft-work, Brain-work and Leadership
While both craft-work and brain-work projects encapsulate all the attributes of project management,
brain-work projects such as software and management systems nevertheless require a different focus.
The creation of physical products generally exact some degree of logical sequence in their construction,
which favors hierarchical, linear type thinking. Products of the mind are not so constrained, although
they will benefit from a logical and systematic approach. On the contrary, such projects benefit more
from developing team commitment through lateral, cooperative and concurrent thinking.
Consequently, the type of leadership required is also different. The former type of project responds
better to "command and control' leadership, whereas the latter responds better to the delegation of
responsibility and authority within the context of defined goals and objectives. "Empowered work
teams" is the current buzz word, a device to bring management focus on activating and motivating
project team members by playing on an individual's natural need to feel valued. Nevertheless, without
true integrative leadership, the results can be fragmented, controversial and lack substance.
So what do we see in the next ten or more years? Perhaps the first point is that another ten plus years is
minimal in the overall scheme of things.
Certainly, judging by the many projects that fail to reach their optimum potential or just downright
miscarry, there will be plenty of opportunity for education and training in the art and science of project
management. There will be broader understanding that success criteria are not best defined by time and
cost objectives, but by scope and quality objectives, especially quality. There will be promulgated a
better understanding that management of a project encompasses proactive tradeoffs between the four
parameters of scope, quality, time and cost as suggested by Figure 2, and not just time and cost alone.
Moreover, the basis of successful decision will vary more with the type of project and the phase and
stage in its life cycle than in management style.

But the shift in application of project management from physical to intellectual projects has highlighted
an interesting dichotomy in the nature of human beings. On the one hand there are the "technologists"
who, striving to make a new world, are filled with the lusty enjoyment of material creativity22. On the
other there are the "existentialists" who, rejecting dogma, prefer to rely on the passions, impulses, urges
and intuitions that are the basic ground of our personal existence3.
Thinkers and Feelers
In short, there is a split between thinkers and feelers and the impact on project work should not be
When confronted by project goals and objectives, there are those who obtain satisfaction through the
successful achievement of these goals and objectives. Their concerns stem from ensuring that the
necessary time and resources are available and within their power to control. These are the thinkers who
are usually involved by choice and often represent management.
The feelers, however, tend not to be stimulated by setting goals and objectives and indeed see it as being
of little or no consequence. In their view, the only important thing about goal-setting is that the goals
should be broadly based, loosely defined and flexible. Typically, they are the stakeholders and
constituents and their satisfaction comes, if at all, not from a sense of achievement but from participating
in the process.
We can see this dichotomy as far back as our story of Imhotep and King Zoser. Imhotep was clearly a
thinker and achieved what he achieved through a satisfaction of "getting things done". King Zoser, on
the other hand, was a feeler and was obviously greatly concerned about how he would feel incarcerated
in his magnificent mastaba.
Finally, a look into the Future [which is now]
Today, the pendulum of management thought has swung towards "participative management" which is
the buzz word for corporate management's attempt to bridge this gap. We can already see this trend
emerging in project work, and we can expect to see this trend continue. Indeed, the greater the number
of stakeholders and constituents that are involved in the end results of a project, whether it be internal
administrative or external infrastructure, the more important it is.
Unfortunately, these project constituents are rarely accountable for the project's time and cost, at least in
the short term. Consequently, "participation" in the project process may become stalled and even
reversed, exacting a terrible toll in terms of the project's core constraints.
As populations grow and the share of the world's resources diminish, we can confidently expect the rate
of change to accelerate. Project management will continue to be the most powerful vehicle for handling
these changes in an orderly manner. However, to do so there must be a progressive reconciliation or
accommodation between the two view points of thinkers and feelers. This will be the challenge of the
next decade and beyond.
In the longer term we can expect to see the pendulum swing back once more towards firmer leadership,
an attribute desperately needed in today's world of population, environmental and political crises.
To do so, project management leadership concepts will change progressively in response to the external
demands of a better informed and discerning public and an increasingly better educated work force.
Internally, the change will encompass the electronic revolution; socio-technical systems (wherein the
team itself shares responsibility with accountability for self-management in defining all steps, execution,
and project deliverables); and shared power (distributed leadership or partnering). The skill sets needed
for these different and changing environments will be identified and the means developed for
transferring them to project-managers-in-the-making through education.
The rewards will be the survival of civilization — no less.