Art and Science of Project Management

The very first International Conference on Project Management held in India was organized by me in December 1992 in New Delhi and was held in association with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on the theme ‘New Dimensions in Project Management’.

In the opening address at this conference, I presented the following definition of project management:

     “Project management is the art and science of converting vision into reality”

This unique definition of project management was very much appreciated by all participants from India and outside India and it is heartening to see that over the years it has become a widely used definition of project management globally and is often quoted in literature.

Indeed, the science part can be analyzed, rationally debated, and finally agreed upon. The science part is measurable like WBS, Gantt Charts, Earned Value Measurements, Network Schedule, Quality Measurements etc.

It is the Art part or the softer dimension of human factors where the arguments and conflicts generally arise. Most of the things on which conflicts occur are related to Human behavior which is a complex phenomena to understand. These are things we cannot easily see and measure and they often constitute the major difficulty in TEAM Building.

In the schematic, the Science part is easily visible whereas the behavior or the Art part is not apparent and directly visible. The hidden agendas of individuals makes it difficult to resolve differences and it certainly increases the conflicts in a project as it is difficult to predict what is going on in one’s mind.

Transparency breeds Trust thus reducing uncertainty and ambiguity.

Adesh Jain