Volume 5 August 24, 2001
Message From Charles Loew
Comments From Our Readers
New On The Maset Web Site
Feature Of This Issue
Welcome to MASET News. A monthly publication dedicated to the communication between MASET and our many interested Friends, Customers and Potential Customers
MESSAGE FROM CHARLES LOEW:
I just completed a successful trip to Taiwan and presented a seminar on "Six Sigma® - The Way to Implement a Cultural Change in an Organization." The audience was very pleased with the seminar and many people asked for additional information. As a result of the week in Taiwan, Maset has agreed to form an alliance with Harvard Management Services, Inc. Harvard Management Services, Inc. will represent Maset, LLC in Taiwan and will help Maset, LLC introduce Six Sigma within the Country. If you are in Taiwan, you can contact Dr. Rong Ren Lai directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Project Management is currently often viewed as only applicable to the very large projects such as designing and building power plants or developing a new multi million-dollar airport. These big projects could not be done on time and within budget without the help of Project Management. However, there are thousands of small- to medium-size projects in every organization that can benefit from a good Project Manager guiding the project through the many hurdles required to complete the activity on time and within budget.
Many organizations totally miss the benefits that can be derived by using a good Project Manager to run small and medium activities. Even if the person acting as Project Manager has other duties, that individual can learn to use the tool set of Project Management to insure completion on time and within budget. This month's feature article covers some of the intuitive sides of Project Management.
Please view our offerings in Project Management in order to help you and your organization meet its schedules and cost goals while also satisfying all your Customers.
COMMENTS FROM OUR READERS:
Some comments from our readers. All comments are welcome.
I thoroughly enjoy reading the Maset News; it is certainly at the right pitch, very informative but crisp and to the point keep it up.
Your choices of Feature Articles have been excellent. Keep choosing interesting and stimulating articles.
What happened in the mailing of the last issue of the Maset News?
Response: While sending out Maset Newsletter #4 in July, a portion of delivery header appeared at the top of the email you received. The company that handles distribution of the newsletter tells me that they were responsible, but that it was not foreseen and will be prevented from reoccurring. They apologize for any inconvenience or confusion it might have caused you.
NEW ON THE MASET WEB SITE:
We have improved the navigation on the past issues of the Maset News to make it easier to find articles and sections from past issues.
Nick Grabar has joined the Maset team and comes to us with many years in Business Improvement and Leadership Training.
George Reyna joins the Maset Team following a 25-year history with Texas Instruments. His areas of expertise span from Industrial Engineering through to full Operations Management.
FEATURE OF THIS ISSUE:
"The Intuitive Side of Project Management"
By Douglas Sankey
Much has been said recently about project management as a business process of importance to companies. Many companies can take pride in their reputations of being leaders in project management. At the same time, for some, especially those new to project management, the subject is cause for certain alarm - due primarily to a perception that project management is complicated and rules intensive. On the other hand, there are those who make the observation that project management includes many elements that we "do naturally" - as a normal part of managing. As a practitioner of project management, these observations strike me of interest and are the subject of this article.
Let me begin with a seemingly blasphemous statement: many of the great projects in history did not use formal project management systems approaches for their accomplishment. Why? Because project management didn't even exist as a discipline when these projects were completed! A student in one of my classes once took the next step of saying that this was, "proof that project management was not really needed" (more on that momentarily!). The great projects? The Pyramids of Egypt (3000 years ago!), the Panama Canal, and the Brooklyn bridge, to name a few. In my own organization, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the 1945 splitting of the atom, a project at that time of grave importance to national security, was accomplished before the advent of modern project management (which many pre-date to approx. 1960 with the development of early PERT techniques). If they didn't use it then for projects such as the ones mentioned, why do we need it now?
There are many good reasons, and some key differences between then and now. Foremost is my observation that most of these projects were not significantly resource constrained. Case in point: when more labor was needed for the Pyramids, it was ordered up through the slave pool. The Manhatten Project was to be accomplished, "at all costs". America's quest to put a man on the moon also had considerable National resource emphasis. This is not to underplay the importance of each of these accomplishments, for despite the resources they did command, they often had other constraints, such as technical and schedule challenges (e.g., President Kennedy's commitment to get to the moon in ten years). These they overcame with heroic effort and determination. In addition, in each of these projects, despite the absence of modern project management processes and tools, there is ample evidence of "close management" in order to accomplish their project objectives.
I maintain that embedded in this "close management" are the important intuitive elements of project management. No, the Panama Canal construction did not use earned value, nor did the Egyptians depend on configuration management. I doubt that the entire Roman Coliseum construction management team knew as much about critical path method scheduling as the project management champion in your organization. But, we should learn from history and recognize the important contribution of close management, personal leadership and plain old grit and determination. We should also seek to find better ways to complete projects to specification, on-time and within budget, all within defined constraints - be those constraints resources, competitor pressure or marketplace demands. This is the reality of our time in history.
Many companies are meeting these challenges with their use of modern project management practices and systems. Are these practices partly intuitive? Yes. But they go beyond intuition by bringing consistent, disciplined, team based and integrative approaches to bear to better help us realize our project goals. Combining the intuitive, and the creative, with these formal project management techniques is the ultimate solution. For recent history also confirms that those who do this well reap the profits in today's marketplace by satisfying customer cost, quality, functionality and schedule requirements.
Could a company skilled in project management today have built the Pyramids faster, better and cheaper? You bet they could!
To learn more about the Maset capabilities in the area of Project Management please check our web page.
Originally published 8/13/98.
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