This Guest paper was submitted for publication and is copyright to Mark A. Seely© 2016.
Published here February 2017

PART 1 | Editor's Note & Table of Contents | Chapter 2: Deconstructing the Paradigm
What Has Changed? | Commodity Stereotyping
Observations on: Exhibits A through G | Exhibits H through P 
Alignment with the DBM Taxonomy: Levels 1 and 2 | Levels 3 to 5
Chapter 3: Reconstructing the Paradigm | The DBM Establishes the Complexity
Matching and Mismatching | PART 3

What Has Changed?

Reviewing management practice over the past century, there were a number of key focuses that consumed the attention of our learning institutions. There were also a number of strategic turning points where the management paradigm of choice transformed.

Starting with the introduction to the 20th century, industry was just getting into mechanization — the notion of mass-producing consumer goods. This foray into management science was enabled by the advent of central power utilities, the expansion of rail lines, and the birth of the production factory. Management Science and Taylor-type[4] studies were in vogue.

Along came the 1929 stock market crash that led to extensive government investments in infrastructure projects to bail the economy out of the Depression. This shifted management science focus toward custom infrastructure projects — buildings, roads, bridges and dams. Construction techniques formed the rudimentary legwork for the ensuing Project Management Body of Knowledge.

The invention of the transistor in the late 1950's, and shortly thereafter the integrated circuit, brought forward electronically animated equipment where functional emulation was the central challenge. In response, major players at (inter alia) Department of Defence (DOD)[5] and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)[6] established systems engineering approaches to step participants through a systems engineering development project. Proficiency in project practice for system development was a matter of national security — keeping military state-of-the-art beyond the capability of the opposing side. Prowess depended on our ability to push the developmental envelope.

The 1990's marked another demarcation point in the project management evolution with the networking of desktop computers. PCs came to the desks of America in the 1980's. By the 1990's we had them networked and emulating business functionality. A new and unfamiliar type of project was born — Business Transformational Projects.

Today, project management is applied on the grand stage — The Project For the New American Century[7] for example — where the complexity in globalization and societal rebalancing moves us toward the New World Order.

Each of the foregoing events marked a turning point in the Project Management need, transformations that entail consideration of greater complexity. They also align with the five levels of the DBM that will be explored in later chapters of this book.

As the accepted project management panacea is stretched to fit a new complexity, the utility of the model needs to be reviewed.

The Project Management Institute was founded in the 1960's, embracing the stereotypical organizing model. By that time, however, the world was struggling with three different management models identified above. The rigors of systems engineering projects may have pushed the framework beyond reason. By the time business transformation became mainstream, it was readily apparent that the standard organizing model was not a sufficient concept.

Notwithstanding various iterations of the PMBOK through the 1990's to add the latest terminology, new concepts such as "evolutionary prototyping", "business case" and the like, the framework remains fundamentally rooted in organizing things.

Chapter 2: Deconstructing the Paradigm  Chapter 2: Deconstructing the Paradigm

4. "The Principles of Scientific Management", Frederick Winslow Taylor, Harper Brothers, 1911
5. Department of Defense, United States Government.
6. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, United States Government.
7. "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces, and Resources For a New Century", September 2000
Home | Issacons | PM Glossary | Papers & Books | Max's Musings
Guest Articles | Contact Info | Search My Site | Site Map | Top of Page