Last year this author reviewed some historic attempts to structure knowledge
in general, and the Project Management Institute's Project Management Body of
Knowledge in particular, by means of various models (Wideman 1997). However,
concept mapping is becoming increasingly popular with researchers and educationalists
as a way of capturing a knowledge area. Typically in a brainstorming wallboard
type session, the approach forces discovery of basic conceptual units and their
Concept maps are graphic displays of knowledge topics in a node-link structure.
The nodes represent concepts, entities or things that are described by labels
with a set of attributes. The links show both the connections between nodes
and the nature of the relationship. A big advantage of the concept map is that
it provides a visual image making it easier to study the components and their
relationships. However, the particular view of the given structure must be stated
explicitly because intellectual' structures can be seen from many perspectives.
The author's 1997 paper describes the steps to creating a concept map, the
view of project management selected, criteria for inclusion or exclusion of
'node labels' and the resulting findings presented as the first few levels of
a more familiar breakdown structure. This framework is referred to as a Project
Management Knowledge Structure (PMKS) and the node labels as Project Management
Descriptors (PMDs). The objectives of the framework are worth reemphasizing.
The PMKS must be:
- Explicitly and operationally defined as to structure, variables and relationships
- Obviously valid and intuitive to all project stakeholders
- Generally applicable throughout the project environment in a way that accounts
for the complexity and dynamics of the project process ...
- Validated empirically in the real project world
- Simple, logical, understandable and flexible, yet comprehensive within practical
limits of number of hierarchical levels
- Built on existing project management understanding generally
- Expressed in familiar terms and phrases that facilitate both electronic
and non-electronic retrieval of project management relevant information.
- Responsive to hierarchies, word sets, and cross-links, that apply to more
than one branch of the structure
- Independent of any proprietary view of project management
- And, last but not least, beneficial to its users.
The view selected for this PMKS was based on the premise that:
A commitment, in terms of scope, quality, time and cost, exists between the
project group, responsible for integration of objectives, teamwork, communication
and effort, and the client or sponsor, responsible for the vision, general
direction, resources and project financing.
The reason for this perspective was that this appears to be the primary duty
of project management.