The science of project management vs the art of project management

I have been involved in project management for many years. I first got a taste for it in 1994 during my first year at university. During that time I have read about project management, been on project management training courses, been a project team member on various projects and ultimately project managed multiple projects both infrastructure and application. But if I am honest I never really knew what project management was or what a project manager did. Don’t get me wrong, I am comfortable with Gantt charts, I can calculate (manually) the critical path of a project, running status meetings, issue resolution etc but I would always struggle to explain what a PM does and the value he/she brings when talking to someone else.

Now you may be thinking the earlier statements contradict each other, so I will use a cooking analogy.

I know how to boil water, I know how to turn on a cooker, I also know where to buy groceries, how to chop up vegetables, and how to use a knife and fork. With all that said it does not mean I can cook like Gordon Ramsey (although I can swear like him)

What I have come to realise is that most books and training courses cover in great detail the science of project management but very rarely get across the art of project management. I truly think that the art of project management is more crucial than the science, because if you don’t ‘get it’ no amount of PM tool knowledge will help you become a better project manager.

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