Is it art or science?

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As project and programme managers, we are expected to work to recognised processes and we are measured against them. Perfect adherence to process, however, does not guarantee a perfect outcome; it only provides a perfect audit trail.

Much science has been applied into the creation of processes such as PRINCE 2, Risk and EVM. They are inanimate and are of no value unless intelligent use is made of them.

So, what can cause a project with perfect process adherence to fail? The answer is simple; it is the human component.

Equally, what can make a project with poor process adherence succeed? The answer is just as simple; it is the human component.

Why do we, as a group of professionals, therefore, spend so much time and effort immersing ourselves in processes, defining and refining them, and, promote ourselves by having qualifications in them?

Surely, we should be spending more time in learning how to make better decisions and to get the best out of ourselves and the people we work with. This is where science gives way to art because people are intelligent and unpredictable beings whereas processes are stupid and predictable robots.


Posted by Sion Jones on 18th Apr 2012

About the Author
Sion has worked in engineering & technology, principally aerospace & defence since 1980. He moved from Engineering to Programme Management in 1990, and has managed a range of software/hardware development projects and programmes. He has experience of international subcontract management and collaborative working and is currently employed by Quintec Associates, mostly on defence programmes with departures into underground rail and nuclear decommissioning domains. He was involvement with the People SIG from around 2008 before becoming a full committee member in 2010 until 2014. He took early retirement at the end of September 2015

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