Here is  my third and last attempt at defining project management. This time, I will try the “philosophical“ approach..

In a philosophy seminar, I learned how to define a term. You look for the nearest generic term (kind or category) and then describe the differences between your term and the others belonging to the same generic type.

Here is an example:

If I wished to define the term woman, I would look for the nearest generic term, which is human. Human is nearer to woman than, for example primate, because primate means other animals, for instance chimpanzees, along with humans. Humans include men and women. Consequently, all that is left to do for me is to describe the differences between men and women. Then I have found a definition for the term  woman.

So a woman is a human who is not a man.

Well, that, too, might not be quite correct, but the example was only chosen in order to make you aware of the general principle.

So now back to the term project management. Is management the generic term for  project management? I almost tend to believe it is. But then, what is the distinctive element between a project and other objects and themes that are to be managed?

First and foremost, I can think of very real things you can “manage”: buildings, stock, enterprises, finances, crises… And then there are groups of persons, teams, clubs, municipalities…

On a more abstract note, things like building a house or a street come to mind. Or a journey (managing to reach the end of the journey?). Or a vacation that is supposed to give you a lot of fun and recreation. Or even a partnership, a relationship. Or even life as such … Or a crisis?

Crisis management is a good thing. Well, it is not for project managers, is it? In a crisis, I need a crisis manager, don’t I?

Or is a crisis also a project? Or is the resolution to solve a crisis a project?

There is still some structuring and control necessary before all these ideas can give me a useful result. So are they all just endeavours that we want to succeed? But then, I tried endeavours when I first tried to define the term. And I failed gloriously (1. Definitionsversuch).

But then, the endeavours I listed were also all some kind of project or other… That means the word project cannot really be limited. It is true for everything that must be structured or controlled in any way…

For everything that must be managed!

So here we are with another failed attempt at defining project management. I will give up on it. In the next enterepreneur’s diary, I will look into how projects are generated in an enterprise.

(Translated by EG)

You will find all the articles of my entrepreneur’s diary if you click here: Drehscheibe

3 Kommentare zu “Entrepreneur’s Diary #67 What Exactly Is – Project Management? (Attempt at Definition III)”

  1. Jens Hoffmann (Sunday January 29th, 2012)

    Sorry, dass ich erst jetzt kommentiere. Ich stehe weiterhin zur Definition “ein einmaliges Vorhaben, das aus einem Satz von abgestimmten, gelenkten Tätigkeiten mit Anfangs- und Endtermin besteht und durchgeführt wird, um unter Berücksichtigung von Zwängen bezüglich Zeit und Ressourcen (zum Beispiel Geld bzw. Kosten) ein Ziel zu erreichen”. Ein Projekt ist also eine einmalige Veranstaltung und hat einen definierten Anfang und ein definiertes Ende. Diese Abgrenzung halte ich für wichtig, um ein Projekt von einer Regel- oder Routinetätigkeit wie z.B. Prozessen abzugrenzen. Ob man dafür eine andere Form von Management benötigt, als für Regelaufgaben, dass steht für mich auf einem anderen Blatt.

  2. Chris Wood (Monday January 30th, 2012)

    I like the comment, but would delete “abgestimmten”. A one man project should be possible.

  3. Eberhard Huber (Tuesday January 31st, 2012)

    In Sachen Projekt-Definition schließe ich mich vollständig Jens an, siehe auch mein letzter Artikel zu Etikettenschwindeleien sowei den letzten Cartoon 😉

    Gerade bei Projekten halte ich den Begriff Management gelegentlich für irreführend. Einen Versuch der Abgrenzung der Begriffe hatte ich vor einiger Zeit schon unternommen.

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