Project Management

The Entrepreneurial Project Manager: Bringing Philosophy to Project Management

Over the past 10 years, Chris Cook has spent his career in the construction industry. He has a Bachelor's of Science in Industrial Technology Management with an emphasis in Building Construction Management and Master's of Science in Project Management. He is an accredited PMP. Follow more of Chris's insights at his blog EntrePMeur.

Philosophy. A word associated with theory and the meaning of life. Studied only because it was seen as an easy college elective. Get in, get the grade and get out. Philosophy is difficult to read—antiquated verbiage leading to headaches. If it is difficult to read, it is even more difficult to understand.

Project management is the antithesis. It is based on science. There are formulas involved. Scientific models can be created to show progress or how a resource is being used. Concepts can be understood and applied.

So how does philosophy coincide with project management? At every level. Think of the dynamic project setting. Issues pop up like storms in the mountains. People quit without notice. Resources are taken away because priorities lie elsewhere. Science gets thrown out the window pretty quickly. Based on the evidence of previous projects, your three-day window to get a task completed just turned into five days.

Who would know more about a dynamic setting than Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor from 161 to 180 AD. During his reign, there was constant conflict. Wars beginning and ending. Turmoil surrounding his every move. During his tenure as emperor, his journal (later titled Meditations) would become a source to find guidance and inspiration. His Stoic philosophy applies perfectly to the project management profession. Below I have taken some quotes from


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"Impartial observers from other planets would consider ours an utterly bizarre enclave if it were populated by birds, defined as flying animals, that nevertheless rarely or never actually flew. They would also be perplexed if they encountered in our seas, lakes, rivers and ponds, creatures defined as swimmers that never did any swimming. But they would be even more surprised to encounter a species defined as a thinking animal if, in fact, the creature very rarely indulged in actual thinking."

- Steve Allen