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Following a recognised approach

As you saw in the previous step, project management has a long history: early examples often cited are the building of the pyramids at Giza and the Great Wall of China.

Over time, the approaches and the techniques used for successful and effective project management have become formalised. By the mid-20th century, project managers began the work of seeking recognition for project management as a profession. One aspect of this work involved obtaining agreement on the content of the Body of Knowledge (BOK) called project management. This BOK became known as the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).

The Project Management Institute (PMI) produced a baseline of charts and glossaries for the PMBOK. Project managers soon realised that no single book could contain the entire PMBOK. Therefore, the PMI developed and published A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMI 2017).

The PMBOK and other approaches (for example, Prince2) are designed to ensure clarity, and a systematic, well-defined approach to managing projects – to avoid ambiguity. But why is ambiguity something to be avoided?

Your task

Within most companies, there are staff with different roles, ideas and expectations. Imagine you ask everyone in your company to design a swing. How different might their ideas be? The image below demonstrates this:

A tree with a simple wooden swing seat hanging from a branch with the caption 'what the client wanted'; a tree with a tyre hanging from a branch with the caption 'how the engineer designed it'; a tree with a comfortable armchair hanging from a branch with the caption 'how the architect envisioned it'; a tree chopped down with an axe leaning against the trunk, a wooden chair has been made from the cut down pieces of tree with the caption 'how the manufacturer made it'

Consider the picture above. Why do you think ambiguity is a problem in project management?

Post your answer in the comments below.


Project Management Institute (2017) A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge: PMBOK Guide. 6th edn. Newtown Square, Pennsylvania: Project Management Institute

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This article is from the free online course:

Project Initiation

Coventry University