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Nic Thomas

on 3 November 2014

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Project Management
The Art and Science of Project Management
Project Management
Right Brain
Left Brain
Brain OR


systematic process
strengthened through experimentation
What is
What is
conscious use of skill
and creative imagination
Scientific theory
Excellence is the verification of past results
Excellence is the creation of unique works
The Art and Science of Project Management
Science often lays the foundations for art
Scientific projects run like clockwork
Project Management needs systems
Projects need objective outcomes
Project tools based upon scientific principles
Decisions need to be based on facts
Projects should be controlled
using a proven framework
Art Projects can be a
creative thinking
Projects need flexibility
need to
from all angles
Projects need to build trust and inspire
Projects need
So is Project Management an Art or Science?
Project Management
As a science
Project Management
As an Art
Science can be ART
Both Art and Science are essential for successful
Project Management
Which voice is louder?
Project Managers came from different paths
So who were we before PM's?
Doing the heavy lifting
Manager trying to escape people
People trying to escape management
The road we came from can provide insight as to the PM turn out to be
Were you?
The Technical Project Manager
Prefers a science-based approach
Strong task focus and may allow little flexibility
Control detail
The non-technical Project Manager
Prefers an arts based approach
Allows greater flexibility
Greater consultation and emphasis on the people
Affecting how we run our projects
What influences our decision making?
How many times have you made a project decision that could not be 100% backed up with facts and data?

I.e you relied on your gut!
Let's explore both methods:
Developing a schedule:
Scientific Approach
Gather facts, historical data
Extrapolate considering future conditions
Use scientific based tools to exact a precise schedule
Communicate with certainty
Schedule complete
Arts Approach
Ask when it needs to be completed
Schedule complete
Which project will have greater chance of being completed on time
What are the issues when we implement the project
Pure Science
Pure Arts
Human Performance
Assumed to be linear
Known to vary (peaks and troughs)
You are the PM for the primary contractor of a multimillion dollar government project already in the spotlight for running late.

It is a day before a very public handover and you have just been informed by one of your technical advisers that you should delay the project (by what could months), to fix a small issue which may or may not impact on the deliverable.

It’s not a simple decision as the project is under massive public pressure to finish and failure to deliver on time will mostly likely jeapordise any future works with the department.

Finish or Delay?

You are managing a project to roll-out a totally new product which you think will revolutionise the business world. You and your team are aware that that it currently has a very limited functionality, it is problematic and has not been perfected and furthermore it could potentially open up huge copyright infringement lawsuits against your company.

Most advisors are calling you to shelve the project, but your gut is saying to release it.

Release or Reject?

9 years ago you persuaded management to green light a project you were passionate about and insisted it would pay off.
For 9 years you have headed the project to develop the worlds first driver-less car. Your company has already invested
$9 million
towards the construction of a prototype. All is going well and your prototype is 90% complete.
All of a sudden hear confirmed reports that a competitor has just launched a working driver-less car which has been tested and proven to be better in every way (faster, safer, more economical and cheaper) to your product.
Continue or Abort?
Would continue
Should we make decisions based on
cold facts
or should our gut actually have some input
Using 2 ways of thinking
Slow evolution of process
Delivers great results when implemented by a robot
Accountability is often ignored
Delays explained by "creative scope creep"
Requires a scientific approach
So which do we apply in our projects?
Human Performance
I have a clear understanding of my project. I can confidently explain the deliverables as well as the scope of works.
I have strong drive in the achievement of project outcomes. I am passionate and positively influence those around me.
There is nothing in my way, things can get done!
I have all the required skills to achieve the tasks.
So how do you perform?
Can face issues when things aren't
Functionality gets replaced with aesthetics
Merit awarded to most qualified
Can they play nice together?
We all have cognitive biases
One worker comes in late, leaves early, but manages to complete more work than his colleagues and to a much higher standard.

Whilst the other sticks like glue to the working hours but is far less productive.

Your Project Team
How do you deal with this?

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