A Useful Postscript
Interestingly, Peter Morris himself wrote an Afterword to the book, and in a section titled: "The model of project management" he observed:
"Most [of the authors in the book] take the PMBOK Guide (PMI, 2004) as the formal model of project management. On the face of it this is not unreasonable; it is the model of the largest professional society. Yet it is simplistic, and has been criticised as such (Morris, 2001; Williams, 2004)."
We are in no rush to defend the PMBOK Guide, but we do suggest that it is this very simplicity that has not been researched simplistically enough. If we do not have a satisfactory and common understanding of what a "project" and "project management" really are, and an accepted theory to bind the two together, how can we possibly maintain that we have a unique discipline, let alone (heaven forbid) a recognized profession?
Why is this so important? It is important because a solid foundation is essential if we are to teach the subject effectively. And do so without bolstering the subject (as so many authors and lecturers are wont to do) by transgressing with war stories into the many domains of technology management ranging from engineering and construction to information technology. A true discipline does not require this encumbrance.
We have no quarrel with those who wish to write books of case studies of project successes and failures, or "how-tos" on managing various technologies, these all have valuable insights for the practitioners in their respective areas. However, we do have trouble when tomes are put out under the banner of project management without qualification. We find that information technology "experts" are particularly guilty of this.
But more importantly, we need to get across theory-based concepts of project management to the next generation of students, especially in high schools, such that these concepts are internalized at an early age. Only in this way will such ideas as scope, quality, time and cost monitoring and redirection, as well as such notions as research of previous lessons learned before starting and risk assessment become a matter of application and habit. Habits that are applied instinctively in any of the areas of project management application. In short, these should be life skills. This should be our road to project management of the future, not just more conferences, papers and books galore.
At the same time, we should be trying to establish what we should to be doing, rather than what we are currently doing. That includes a more universal understanding of the difference between managing the technology and managing the project and, more particularly, where the boundary between the two is or what it looks like. This would, we think, also solve many of the evident conundrums to be found in the works of many authors.
Of course, some will argue that project and technology management are inseparable. And indeed in practice they really are. But that is the same with the human body. The functioning heart is inseparable from the rest of the body and is clearly meaningless with out it, but that doesn't stop us studying it in exquisite detail.
So we need research to be done to establish just exactly what is meant by "project" and by "project management" - and done at the most fundamental level.
29. Ibid, p336