Progress through people: The study of projects as if people mattered


Advances in Project Management

By Prof Darren Dalcher

Director, National Centre for Project Management
University of Hertfordshire


Last month’s article highlighted the role of complexity and made a case for organizational learning and systems thinking as an integrating discipline. Guided coaching can play a part in improving performance and getting the team to think and work together. Indeed, learning and development represent an ongoing challenge for those seeking to improve the performance of project systems; a challenge that requires attention and development of all project players. This theme will now be explored in greater depth.

Small is beautiful

The title of this article is a play on the name of a successful book, Small is Beautiful, the Study of Economics as if People Mattered, by British economist Ernst Freidrich Schumacher released in 1973. The book comprises a collection of essays, which reframe and reposition macroeconomics thinking at a critical juncture. The timing of the book could not have been more dramatic as it was released during the energy crisis of 1973, which served to strongly underpin its key message.

Schumacher’s book was an early attempt to combine ethics, human consideration, philosophy, environmentalism and economics. The book sounded a warning at a time when mass production was deemed ready to produce cheaper goods for ever expanding audiences.

While the early part of the book focuses on the ‘problem of production’, arguing against the unsustainable nature of the modern economy and the non-renewable consumption of resources, writing that would still be applicable today, the latter part offers fascinating insights about the role of humans. Schumacher contested that the emerging development trends would dehumanise people and the economic and environmental systems that steered their lives. Accordingly, he argued for small ‘appropriate technologies’ that could empower and involve people rather than the massive production systems.


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. Information about the Gower series can be found at



About the Author

pmwj35-Jun2015-Dalcher-PHOTODarren Dalcher, PhD

Series Editor
Director, National Centre for Project Management
University of Hertfordshire, UK

UK small flag 2


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].

To see other works by Prof Darren Dalcher, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/darren-dalcher/.