Project management is a complex activity and it involves, among other things, an attitude, style and philosophy. The main proposition of this article suggests that different projects must be approached by different managerial philosophies. The article presents a conceptual managerial classification of projects based on their technological uncertainty — specifically the newness and complexity of the technology involved. It classifies all projects into four types: lowtech, medium tech, high‐tech and super high‐tech, and then proceeds to describe the major differences among them. Special attention is then paid to the ‘higher’ technology types — high‐tech and super high‐tech projects — and to the attitudes and tools that are needed for managing them. Such projects, if well executed and successful, may help improve competitive advantage and commercial position. They involve however substantial risk and high probability of failure. Several examples of super high‐tech projects carried out in the past are described, and their management style discussed in light of the classification presented here. These examples include the SR‐71 ‘Blackbird’ aircraft, the ‘Apollo’ moon‐landing program, Data General's ‘Eagle’ computer and NASA's program of developing the Space Shuttle.
R & D Management – Wiley
Published: Jul 1, 1993
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