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Project Management

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Can you provide me with a brief overview of project management and its history?

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Mary Poppendieck's anecdotal presentation, about the history of project management and its development, gives a comprehensive overview about its birth and its journey to maturity through industries such as the military, la voiture, ship building, manufacturing, and global trading. Throughout her lecture, she consistently reinforces the principle idea that projects, no matter the caliber, cannot be successful if workers aren't given an opportunity to become involved in the work process. Born from her own experience as a manager, Mary Poppendieck does an excellent job of explaining and/or defending her decisions while operating in past leadership roles. Her point, all managers aren't bad people and that such individuals must always make the best out of their situation if they are to survive in the market and remain competitive.

She begins her conversation by inferring that her audience will clearly be able to recognize "when leadership is done right," after hearing about many of the obstacles and feats that several people have overcome, while trying to master the theory of project management. "The 1850's was a time when the railroad industry began to boom," she says enthusiastically, "when the rules were all about assigning blame." She then goes on to mention that the first set of railroad tracks were initially designed for the travel of two trains, but due to the increasing demand of transporting goods across long distances, engineers began to take chances and permitted more than the maximum number of trains to frequent the rails. To their surprise, a series of accidents began to take place and it wasn't until then that managers and engineers proposed the idea of creating a set of guidelines that would not only provide a schedule for conductors to follow, but also implement a plan to build more tracks, resulting in an increase in safety and flow. Out of this situation was born the idea that there needs to be "proper division of responsibility" within a project if it is to be successful. Beyond this, there also "needed to be sufficient power conferred to help, a means of knowing, great promptness, and an information system in place to detect errors."

She then goes on to discuss how the field of project management evolved into a period where people believed that delivering an order to the next level down and allowing those individuals to mitigate how that order would be executed, was the most feasible way to manage a staff and make project managers less accountable for incidents. Hence, there was the idea that management is illusionary and that the task of managing belongs to other people. Not soon after, the first automated assembly line was established at Henry Ford Motor Company in 1910, where the Model T was invented. This is where the idea originated that people who work need direction and are not intelligent, but lazy. In other words, workers will do as little as possible if they don't have a master engineer present to tell them how to do their jobs. This new way of thinking also promoted the idea that managers should be charged with finding the best and cheapest means of executing a project.

In the 1920's, a Mr. Charles Allen came into the picture and developed the idea of industrial training; there needs to be expert trainers, particularly Master Trainers, available to oversee the development of workers. However, the issue in adopting that type of ideology is that a trainer ...

Solution Summary

This paper provides an in-depth account of the history of project management and the key theories that you will need to know to gain a thorough understanding of its concepts.