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PM Corner

The Art of Project Management versus The Science of Project Management

Posted by James Truesdale on March 7, 2017 at 5:00 PM

Everywhere you look someone has the Project Management Professional (PMP) designation or some derivation of it. And, that’s great because it shows how important the designation has become in the world of project management. I earned my PMP in 2003 and am glad I got it.  Simply put, I needed it to get the next Project Management assignment after being downsized, a nice way of saying you have been fired. Anyway, I digress.  And, at the time, I had been a practicing Project Manager for at least ten (10) years.  So, the PMP got me back into the workforce with less friction. Let's get to the subject at hand.  What art and science am I talking about as it relates to Project Management?

Project Management can be a very disciplined way of getting work done.  It aids the Project Manager in providing a structured way to execute a project.  There are scopes to manage, risks that need mitigating and actions to complete.  And, lots of others interesting things to be mindful of such as Earned Value. And, I know how much we love EV. So, if you are an "A" type like me; then the science and discipline of Project Management is a place of comfort that we share.  

But, there is the art of getting a project completed successfully.  What do I mean by art?  I am thinking about the approach you take to get your team to work.  The art is in the delivery of the message especially when the message is not so positive. The art is in the ability to keep your team focused when the end is nowhere in sight.  The art is in disrupting the thinking of the team to look at a problem from a different and perhaps an unorthodox point of view.  Essentially, the art of PM is the act of putting persuasion in front of execution.  

So, without art, most projects would not succeed. Yes, project management is a very tasked orientated and disciplined approach to getting work done. But, it is the finesse of getting work done that creates a masterpiece.  I believe that without art, the transactional nature of projects make the work mundane and your project assignment just becomes a chore that must be completed.  We need the art component just as much as science to keep the project going and to make it interesting.  


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