The Nature of the Work Involved
Our goal is to arrive at a basic differentiation between projects from the
perspective of applying different management strategies. Since management is
about exercising influence over people, we need to know about the people working
on the project. They, in turn, will be selected for their abilities to perform
the required work. Hence, we need to focus on the major elements of the work
involved to complete the project.
In the case of a new building (Tangible Project) it is not too difficult to
conceive of the bulk of the work being done by workers belonging to recognized
trades. That is, they have craft skills, with the ability to undertake
reliable repetition. These skills are acquired by training, even
though it may be through on-the-job experience.
Similarly, in the case of creating new software (Intangible Project) it is
clear that the types of workers required are those with intellectual
skills, such as programming. It is true that experience and training are involved,
but education is a prerequisite to being able to understand problem
solving, grapple with complex relationships, and devise new arrangements through
Therefore, we define craft and intellect work as follows.
A. Craft Work
Craftwork is work that has been done before, essentially requiring repetitive
effort. It is an activity that fundamentally repeats a previous activity, can
be improved through repetition, and conforms to the learning curve phenomena.
Such work is the result of manual dexterity. Examples might be concrete forming,
assembling a chair, repairing a car and so on.
B. Intellect Work
Intellect work is work that requires substantial creative effort. It has not
been done before, is exploratory in nature, and will likely require iteration.
It requires new ideas and imagination.
Such work is the result of applying brainpower. Examples include
developing a new theory, new process, new invention and so on.
It may be argued that all projects involve intellectual work in their planning
and for this reason all project management is essentially the same. Indeed, this
may be a popular misconception with many. However, it is the work in the implementation
phases of the project that results in the ultimate product. It is this that distinguishes
one type of project from another and is the focus of our interest here.