After nearly six hundred years, the dome of Florence cathedral remains the largest brick-built dome ever constructed. It was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, and built under his direction between 1420 and 1436. Yet, despite its age, this achievement is very much a project in the sense we would recognise it today – creating something new, full of challenges and risks, and calling for effective team work and inspiring leadership. Modern project management emerged in the 1930s and many of the most useful basic planning and monitoring tools were perfected in the 1950s and 1960s. Comparing a family car built even ten years ago with one built today illustrates what impact projects have in the modern world.
Projects are not just about business; all kinds of organisations have to carry out projects to achieve their goals – the outcome they desire. The amount of change which organisations have to deal with is growing faster and faster. Projects are the means to achieve change successfully. They are about people more than processes. Organisations that excel at doing projects will stand out. Project skills are the key to great career opportunities.
But projects demand a different way of working to ordinary routine jobs (so-called operations). They are four dimensions to it: Project thinking – A project is about taking defined inputs and transforming them to produce an output. Project acting – People must work as a team, motivating each other, co-operating, solving problems and sustaining a clear focus on the next goal and the eventual outcome. Project driving – A project needs to be pushed along. Without strong management it will quickly come to a standstill. Project learning – Every project is different to a greater or lesser degree so there is no single best way to do one. But that does not mean techniques cannot be continually improved to do work better next time.
King, R. (2000). Brunelleschi’s dome. London: Pimlico. Reichold, K. & Graf, B. (1999). Buildings that changed the world. Munich: Prestel.
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