Published here April 2019

Foreword | Introduction
Terms and Definitions Relating to Project Management in This Paper
The Essence of Core Concepts of Project Management
Proposed Core Concepts of Project Management - Part 1, Part 2
Discussion | Conclusion


Projects and project management, like general management itself, are constructs of man. These things do not appear spontaneously in the physical universe. You will not find them in the great outdoors of nature, in the forests or in the wilderness for example. You will, however, find the results of these constructs in the townships, in the built environment, and the burgeoning electronics industries for example and to which we have all become accustomed. That's because of man's desire to create and, in doing so, always to do more with less.

If all of that is true, then what we are looking for is the best possible recipe to meet these human aspirations. To find that, we need some basic principles to work on and, here, we are reminded of Henri Fayol's famous words of caution:

"Principles that are established should be viewed as flexible, capable of adaptation to every need. It is the manager's job to know how to make use of them, which is a difficult art requiring intelligence, experience, decisiveness and, most important, a sense of proportion."

Henri Fayol, General & Industrial Management[2]

Figure 1 displays a colorful graphic in an attempt to conjure up the environment of a significant project, typically under some form of contract, usually written but also generally understood between the parties.

Figure 1: Relationship between project management and product creation
Figure 1: Relationship between project management and product creation[3]

However, the first point of departure is to distinguish between managing a project, aka single project management, and general management, aka business-as-usual. Here are a few key differences:

General Management

Project Management


Process without an evident ending

Process complete when outcome is delivered


Generally steady state

Successive phases are quite different


More efficient production is the objective

Predetermined objectives that when met signal the end of the project


Limited emphasis on planning

Continuous striving towards more and better planning


Heavy reliance on equipment

Heavy reliance on people performance


Repetitive and non-unique activities

Generally non-repetitive and unique activities


Generally established team work

Intensive team building


Manager's position is typically long-term

Manager's role is temporary


Reducing staffing is generally considered good business practice

Creating an added contingency reserve is essential for dealing with unexpected risks


Self discipline is implied

Self management has to be encouraged

Foreword  Foreword

2. Henri Fayol (29 July 1841 - 19 November 1925) was a French mining engineer, mining executive, author and director of mines who developed general theory of business administration. His theory included 14 Principles of management.
3. Copyright: R. Max Wideman, copied from
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