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Classical vs. Behavioral Approaches to Managing Projects
Title

The field of project management is currently in transition. What worked in the past may not necessarily work
in the future, precisely because the world of business has changed. In the past, managing a project meant
focusing on three key elements of a project: cost, schedule, and quality. Each element had a direct relationship
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with the other two. Do something to one and the other two would be affected, positively or negatively. This
viewpoint is considered the classical approach for managing projects. The classical approach emphasized the
formal, structural aspects. Managing projects meant building neat organizational charts and highly logical
schedules, as well as using formal decision-making disciplines.
Recently, however, project management has taken a more behavioral approach. The emphasis is shifting
toward viewing a project as a total system, or subsystem operating within a system. This system perspective
emphasizes the human aspects of a project as much as the structural ones. This does not mean that the formal
tools, techniques, and principles are less important; it is just that they share the stage with behavioral
techniques. The three elements”cost, schedule, and quality”gain an added dimension: people. Cost,
schedule, quality, and people all play integral roles in the success or failure of a project.
Indeed, it is quite evident that the behavioral aspects of a project can have an impact on final results.
Individual and team motivations, informal power structures, and interpersonal communications can have as
much an effect as a poorly defined schedule or an ill-defined goal. In many cases, the impact of behavioral
problems can be even more dramatic.

The Project Cycle and Tts Phases
In the classical approach, project management was conceived in a linear way, or was at least formally
portrayed that way. Project managers were to define, plan, organize, control, and close”in that order. While
it made sense, the reality was usually something else.
Today, we view the project manager™s role differently; although project managers perform the same functions,
we perceive their performance not in a linear context but in a cyclical one, as shown in Exhibit 1-1. Each time
the cycle completes (reaches closure), it begins again, requiring the reinstitution or refinement of the functions
that were used in a previous cycle.
Exhibit 1-1. Functions of project management.

Notice the word lead in the middle of the cycle. As noted earlier, this function occurs throughout the project
life cycle and plays a prominent role in each iteration of the cycle. It is the center”focus”to ensure that each
function occurs efficiently and effectively.
The typical project cycle consists of phases that result in output. During the concept phase, the idea of a
project arises and preliminary cost and schedule estimates are developed at a high level to determine if the
project not only is technically feasible but also will have a payback. In the formulation phase, the complete
project plans are developed. These plans often include a statement of work, a work breakdown structure, and
schedules.
The implementation phase is when the plan is executed. Energy is expended to achieve the goals and
objectives of the project in the manner prescribed during the formulation phase. Then, in the installation
phase, the final product is delivered to the customer. At this point, considerable training and administrative
support are provided to “please the customer.”
The sustaining phase covers the time the product, such as a computing system or a building, is under the
customer™s control and an infrastructure exists to maintain and enhance the product. Sometimes these phases
occur linearly; other times, they overlap. Still other times they occur in a spiral, as shown in Exhibit 1-2.
In today™s fast-paced environment, partly owing to time-to-market pressures and partly to a rapidly changing
business environment, there™s pressure to accelerate the project cycle without sacrificing quality. Many
projects are on the fast track, meaning they proceed quickly. To accommodate that acceleration, companies
adopt simplistic, modular approaches




Exhibit 1-2. Phases of project management.
to building a new product or delivering a new service. Component-based manufacturing, reuse, and
just-in-time delivery, as well as more sophisticated tools (e.g., in-systems development) for building products,
enable such fast-tracking to become possible and prevalent.

Project Success or Failure
Projects, of course, are not operated in a vacuum. They are parts, or subsystems, of much bigger systems
called businesses. Each project has or uses elements such as processes, participants, policies, procedures, and
requirements, some of which are dependent upon and interact with related elements in the larger business
system. A conflict between project and system can result in disequilibrium. But by taking a systems
perspective, the project manager can see how all the elements interact, and assess the impact on the individual
project. For example, it becomes easier to understand the impact of a 10 percent budget cut on each element
of a project. More important, it is easier to identify potential project failure by recognizing the disequilibrium.
If left unmanaged, disequilibrium can result in project failure.
So what types of disequilibrium make a project a success or failure? In the past, the view was that failure
resulted from not adequately defining, planning, organizing, or controlling the project in a step-by-step
manner. In many cases, a project™s failure was attributed to not having an adequate statement of work, a work
breakdown structure, or a schedule. But, as mentioned earlier, failure of a project is increasingly seen as a
result of bad behavioral circumstances”for example, poor customer commitment, lack of vision, low morale,
no buymin from people doing the work, or unrealistic expectations. Such behavioral factors are frequently
recognized as having as much importance for project success, for example, as a well-defined work breakdown
structure. Exhibit 1-3 shows some common reasons for project success or failure.
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Project Management Practitioner's Handbook
by Ralph L. Kleim and Irwin S. Ludin
AMACOM Books
ISBN: 0814403964 Pub Date: 01/01/98

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The key, of course, is being able to recognize if and when projects start to fail. To do that requires
Title
maintaining a feedback loop throughout the project cycle. And the effectiveness of the feedback loop depends
on a constant flow of quality information among the project manager, team members, the customer, and
senior management; see Exhibit 1-4. We™ll discuss this in greater depth in Chapters 13, 14, and 19.
Based on the case study presented in the next chapter, you will learn how to apply the basic functions of
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project management throughout the cycle of a typical project. Chapters 4 through 17 will walk you through
the process, showing the major assessments and decisions to be made. At the end of each chapter is a set of
questions you can answer on your own to help you apply the principles and techniques that you have learned.
So begin now, by meeting the CEO of Great Weddings, Inc., and the project the company is about to launch.
Exhibit 1-3. Reasons for project failures and successes.
Reasons for Project Failures

Classical Behavioral

Ill-defined work breakdown structure Inappropriate leadership style

High-level schedule No common vision

No reporting infrastructure Unrealistic expectations

Too pessimistic or optimistic estimates Poor informal communications and interpersonal
relationships

No change management discipline No "buy-in" or commitment from customer or people
doing work

Inadequate formal communications Low morale

Inefficient allocation of resources Lack of training

No accountability and responsibility for results Poor teaming
Poor role definition Culture not conducive to project management

Inadequacy of tools Lack of trust among participants

Ill-defined scope False or unrealistic expectations

Unclear requirements No or weak executive sponsorship

Too high, too long, or too short time frame Mediocre knowledge transfer

Reasons for Project Successes

Classical Behavioral

Well-defined goals and objectives Agreement over goals and objectives

Detailed work breakdown structure Commitment to achieving goals and objectives

Clear reporting relationships High morale

Formal change management disciplines in place Good teaming

Channels of communication exist Cooperation among all participants

Adherence to scope Receptivity to positive and negative feedback

Reliable estimating Receptive culture to project management

Reliable monitoring and tracking techniques Realistic expectations

Clear requirements Good conflict resolution

Reasonable time frame Executive sponsorship

Broad distribution of work Good customer-supplier relationship




Exhibit 1-4. Feedback loop.


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Project Management Practitioner's Handbook
by Ralph L. Kleim and Irwin S. Ludin
AMACOM Books
ISBN: 0814403964 Pub Date: 01/01/98

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Title
Chapter 2
A Wedding in Naples: Background Information on Our
Case Study
-----------

Here is the case study that forms the backbone of this handbook. It is a model situation around which we have
built our guidelines for effective and successful project management, using the functions of leading, defining,
planning, organizing, controlling, and closing.
Great Weddings, Inc. (GWI), located in New York City, provides a full line of wedding services: sending
announcements to friends, relatives, and newspapers; providing prewedding parties and rehearsals (e.g.,
bachelor parties and bridal showers); determining the ceremony and reception locations; arranging for travel
and hotel accommodations, food and beverages; preparing and mailing invitations; providing wedding attire,
flowers, sound, lighting, music, entertainment, decorations and props, photography and videotaping;
coordinating wedding transportation; and preparing the wedding feast and cake.
GWI provides wedding services in fourteen states. In 1997, its revenue was $5 million after it was in business
for seven years. Amelia Rainbow is president and CEO of GWI, which is privately owned, and she holds 100
percent of the stock.
Growth for the business has been slowing in recent years, from 10 percent annually three years ago to 2
percent this year. If this trend continues, the business could stagnate”or, worse, it might have to reduce
services.

Organizational Structure
Amelia Rainbow has several department heads at vice-presidential levels reporting to her. Each department
has a corporate staff reporting to her. All weddings are managed out of its corporate headquarters in New
York City. The organizational structure of GWI is shown in Exhibit 2-1.
General Nature of the Business
GWI frequently receives solicitations for proposals. These requests are for weddings of all sizes and religions.
A proposal request is a formal document sent to potential vendors. It states the requirements and expectations
of the client, as well as the terms and conditions of the contract. A reply to a proposal request provides
vendors with the opportunity to describe the who, what, when, where, and how for meeting the proposal™s
request.
A proposal has three major components: technical, management, and cost. The technical component includes:
• Vendor™s experience/expertise with similar projects
• List of equipment
• Photographs of end products
• Services




Exhibit 2-1. GWI organizational chart.
• Standards (e.g., levels of acceptance)
• Technical approach
The management component includes:
• Background
• Facilities
• Legal/contracts
• Operating plan
• Organizational structure
• Project management methodology/approach
• Program/project plan (to achieve goals and objectives)
• R©sum© of cadre (key) personnel
• Resource allocation
• Schedule
• Statement of work
• Subcontract work (e.g., names of subcontractors and experience/expertise)
The cost component includes:
• Cost for subcontract work (e.g., labor rates, equipment rental)
• Options
• Payment schedule
• Price breakout (for services and products)
• Taxes
• Type of contract (e.g., lump sum, fixed price)
• Warranties
There are three types of proposal requests: letter request, request for information, and request for proposal.
The major difference among them is the level of effort and resources needed for a response and commitment
upon notification of winning the contract. A letter request briefly conveys the needs of the client. A request
for information usually seeks clarification about specific areas of technology. It does not require the vendor to
provide any services or render any commitments. It often precedes an opportunity to respond to a request for
proposal. And a request for proposal is a detailed, complex contract opportunity. High costs and levels of
effort are necessary to prepare and respond to it.
An Opportunity Arises
One day, GWI receives a request to host a large wedding from the Smythes, a wealthy American family. The
Smythes recently returned from a two-week trip to Naples, Italy, where they fell in love with the city. Their
oldest daughter, Karen, also recently accepted a marriage proposal from her longtime boyfriend, John Hankle,
who accompanied the family on their Naples trip. Everyone has agreed to hold the wedding in Naples.
Amelia recognizes that the wedding could provide the opportunity to open up a niche that GWI had until now
not tapped”American wedding firms providing services in other countries. Such a wedding would be
unprecedented, both in location and in size. Amelia knows, however, that it will enable GWI to avoid
stagnation and grow in a highly competitive industry.
Amelia realizes that she has no choice but to use the existing infrastructure to handle such an unprecedented
project. The entire wedding will also be competing with other ongoing wedding activities. Such weddings,
too, are considered unprecedented opportunities, meaning that hiring more staff now might mean later laying
off people or absorbing costs that could hurt GWI in the future. Amelia also recognizes that this wedding
must be treated more carefully than most because of its high visibility and the amount of money being spent.
The wedding, she knows, is an excellent candidate for applying solid project management disciplines. The
wedding itself has all the criteria for being a project. It has a defined product, which is a wedding. It has
definite start and stop dates. It has a sequence of activities that are required to make the wedding a reality.
Finally, it is temporary. Once the wedding is over”unless, of course, the idea catches on”people and other
resources will be returned to “normal” business life.

The Initial Process
Prior to responding to the wedding request, Amelia forms a proposal team to develop the response. She
appoints a proposal manager, Dave Renberg. Dave forms a team of wedding experts and a technical writer.
Dave and his team verify that the wedding will support the strategic plan. Then they conduct an internal
assessment to determine whether GWI has the capabilities to support the project and it does. Next, they
perform an assessment to determine the risks that GWI might face if it takes on the project and what measures
to employ to prevent or mitigate those risks. GWI finds it has the capabilities to respond to the risks, although
they stretch the company to the limits.
The team is then ready for the next step: prepare the proposal. After the team completes the first draft, Dave
establishes an internal review team to critique the proposal. The internal review team consists of people with
finance, legal, and wedding backgrounds. After several iterations, the proposal is available for Amelia™s
signature. After carefully reviewing its contents, Amelia signs the proposal. Within a week, she receives
notification that GWI has won the contract with the Smythe family.
What Type of Project Manager Are You?
In Corporate Pathfinders (New York: Penguin Books, 1987), Harold J. Leavitt identifies three types of
managers in an organizational setting: problem solvers, implementers, and pathfinders.
1. The manager who is a problem solver emphasizes the use of reasoning, logic, and analysis. A key
characteristic is reliance on facts and data.
2. The manager who is an implementer emphasizes the use of action through people. A key
characteristic is reliance on human emotions and persuasion.
3. The manager who is a pathfinder emphasizes the use of visioning. A key characteristic is the
importance placed on values and beliefs.
If a project requires vision, then choose a pathfinder as leader. If a project requires trouble fixing or hard
logical analysis (e.g., defining requirements and specifications), then a problem solver would make the best
choice. If a project requires a person with good people skills, then an implementer would be the best choice.

The next issue for Amelia to address is to determine at what hierarchical level within the company the project
should be placed and what its most appropriate structure is. One criterion is to give the project as much
visibility as possible. She wants to communicate its priority. With other wedding projects occurring
simultaneously, it is easy to forget this priority.


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Project Management Practitioner's Handbook
by Ralph L. Kleim and Irwin S. Ludin
AMACOM Books
ISBN: 0814403964 Pub Date: 01/01/98

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She decides to establish a steering committee to oversee the overall performance of the project. This steering
Title
committee will consist of all the vice-presidents, or their representatives, with Sam Herkle of Quality as chair.
The purposes of the steering committee are to provide general oversight of and guidance to the project. The
steering committee will have a dotted-line relationship to Amelia, as shown in Exhibit 2-2.
Amelia next decides to adopt a matrix structure for the project itself. Although the project manager would be
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at the vice-presidential level, the resources must be borrowed from other organizations until the demand for
this type of wedding increases in number, value, and longevity. The matrix structure enables her to tape the
expertise of functional groups and use people on a temporary basis. While completing the Smythe Project,
they could also support other wedding projects.




Exhibit 2-2. Organizational placement of Smythe Project.
Amelia does, however, consider a task force structure for the project. This structure involves assigning people
as dedicated members to a project”meaning they support no other project. That would require removing
people from other important projects and hiring replacements, which in turn means layoffs later on. She
realizes, though, that a task force structure would grant the project more visibility and autonomy. The
shortage of skills, the need for supporting existing weddings, and the temporary and risky nature of the project
make the matrix structure the most appropriate selection. See Exhibit 2-3 for a comparison of these structure
types.

Selection of the Project Manager
The final initial step is to select the right person to serve as project manager. Amelia recognizes the
importance of selecting the right person”his or her qualities have a direct impact on the outcome of the
wedding. That™s why she looks first and foremost at the leadership qualities of the person. After all, many
qualified people can do the mechanics of project management, but not everyone is a project leader.
After making a few mistakes in the past, Amelia has learned that the technically competent person is not
necessarily a competent project leader. A person may have the best logical and analytical mind in the group
and yet lack the qualities that lead a project to a successful conclusion. Because the project manager must
interact with many people (such as sponsors, senior management, client, and team members), it is important
that that person have good “people skills.” These skills include:
Exhibit 2-3. Task vs. matrix structure.

Task Structure Matrix Structure

Advantages Advantages
• Autonomous • Access to expertise not ordinarily available
• Dedicated resources • Flexibility in adopting to changing
circumstances
• Greater control over people
• Less idle time for team members
• Greater decision-making authority
• Fewer morale problems as project concludes
• High visibility

Disadvantages Disadvantages
• Impacted by turnover • Conflict with other projects of higher priority
• Less flexibility to adapt to changing • High stress due to conflicting demands
circumstances • Less autonomy
• Threat to morale as project winds down • Less control over people
• Less decision-making authority

• Active listening

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