St Thomas Aquinas’s Gantt chart

I was sitting on the bus last night reading an excellent book on theoretical physics. One of the threads of the book is the basic question of the purpose of physics – is it to describe reality or just to be a logically consistent hermetic exercise in scholasticism?

As I looked out the window as we went ove Battersea Bridge I found myself thinking about how the same question applies in other worlds, not least in IT project management.

A quick search on Amazon reveals 8,794 books on IT project management, a subset of the 40,853 project management books available in total. And amongst these books are familiar friends – PRINCE, ISEB …

But are project management processes a reflection of reality or are they just an exercise in crafting a set of logically consistent processes which end up only weakly engaging with reality? 

In my world one of our great weaknesses is to assume that because we have a problem documented we have a problem solved. We have a Gantt chart therefore we have a plan.

This is not about not following processes, it’s not about ignoring best practice or common causes of project failure, it’s a deeper question about how do we ensure that our processes accurately reflect reality, not waste time and effort trying to make it work the other way round.