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Advances in Project Management: From Quality to the Pursuit of Excellence

SERIES ARTICLE

By Prof Darren Dalcher

Director, National Centre for Project Management

University of Hertfordshire 

UK
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Introduction to the March PMWJ Article by Ron Basu 

Quality is an elusive concept and topic. Much has been said and done in the name of quality, but the underlying features of quality are yet to generate universal agreement.

Philip Crosby, a major contributor to the quality management movement, asserted that ‘quality is free’. His book with the same title published in 1979 made a strong case for doing it right first time. If you do things right in the first place, you will not need to pay to fix them, or be forced to re-do them later resulting in added costs and loss of reputation and hard earned trust. The case for getting things right from the outset is compelling, as recent recalls of cars and the grounding of new fleets of aeroplanes demonstrate.

Quality has proved to be a prolific pre-occupation for philosophers, as well as industrialists. Indeed, some of the ancient Greek philosophers long recognised that quality is not a single act, but a habit.

One of the best selling books dedicated to exploring the boundaries and meaning of quality is Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance published in 1974. The book has sold over five million copies worldwide. It also holds the distinction of having been originally rejected by 121 publishers, more than any other bestselling book according to the Guinness Book of Records.

Pirsig’s book recounting a journey on a motorcycle across the US, can be read at many different levels. It can be viewed as a travel odyssey, a treatise on the philosophy of life, an exploration of familial relationships, or most crucially a deep philosophical discussion on the meaning of quality. The main character in the book is gradually introduced through a series of flashbacks as a former university professor who spent his life pursuing a quest for the true meaning of quality. The closer he got to a true definition of the term, the more unstable and chaotic his personal situation became. Finally, just as he was close to defining the meaning that he was seeking, he became mentally unstable. As the book begins, the hero tries to recover from the trauma and embarks on a physical journey of discovery. Pursuit of the true meaning of quality thus appears to have cost him his sanity.

More…

To read entire article (click here)

Editor’s note: The PMWJ Advances in Project Management series includes articles by authors of program and project management books published by Gower in the UK.  Each month an introduction to the current article is provided by series editor Prof Darren Dalcher, who is also the editor of the Gower Advances in Project Management series of books on new and emerging concepts in PM.  Prof Dalcher’s article is an introduction to the invited paper this month in the PMWJ by Gower author Dr Lynda Bourne on the subject of “Communicating Upwards with Effect.”  Information about the Gower series can be found at http://www.gowerpublishing.com/advancesinprojectmanagement. 

About the Author 

Darren Dalcher, PhDflag-ukDarren Dalcher, PhD 

Author, Series Editor 

Director, National Centre for Project Management

University of Hertfordshire

UK

Darren Dalcher, Ph.D. HonFAPM, FRSA, FBCS, CITP, FCMI is Professor of Project Management at the University of Hertfordshire, and founder and Director of the National Centre for Project Management (NCPM) in the UK.  He has been named by the Association for Project Management (APM) as one of the top 10 “movers and shapers” in project management in 2008 and was voted Project Magazine’s “Academic of the Year” for his contribution in “integrating and weaving academic work with practice”. Following industrial and consultancy experience in managing IT projects, Professor Dalcher gained his PhD in Software Engineering from King’s College, University of London.  Professor Dalcher has written over 150 papers and book chapters on project management and software engineering. He is Editor-in-Chief of Software Process Improvement and Practice, an international journal focusing on capability, maturity, growth and improvement. He is the editor of the book series, Advances in Project Management, published by Gower Publishing of a new companion series Fundamentals of Project Management.  Heavily involved in a variety of research projects and subjects, Professor Dalcher has built a reputation as leader and innovator in the areas of practice-based education and reflection in project management. He works with many major industrial and commercial organisations and government bodies in the UK and beyond.  He is an Honorary Fellow of the APM, a Chartered Fellow of the British Computer Society, a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, and the Royal Society of Arts, and a Member of the Project Management Institute (PMI), the Academy of Management, the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the Association for Computing Machinery. He is a Chartered IT Practitioner. He is a Member of the PMI Advisory Board responsible for the prestigious David I. Cleland project management award and of the APM Professional Development Board.  Prof Dalcher is an academic editorial advisor for the PM World Journal.  He can be contacted at [email protected].