Published here, September, 2001.

Introduction | Pyramids | Scope Creep | Management
Implications | Craft-Work | Thinkers | Future

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.

Figure 2: The Tetrad Tradeoff - Four Objectives or Constraints
Figure 2: The Tetrad Tradeoff Four Objectives or Constraints

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 creativity[2]. 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 existence[3].

Implications of Improving Performance  Implications of Improving Performance

2. Ibid., p 113.
3. Florman, Samuel C., The Existential Pleasures of Engineering, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1976, p xi.
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