I’ve got used to differentiating between operational work (“standing organization”, “business as usual”) and projects. But projects in mainstream business seem to be a fairly new concept (I’m not talking about construction work here). Yet, you find them everywhere – IT projects, process improvement projects, organizational projects. Projects seem to be another method to make better use of a company’s human resources. Or so it seems… If a person has “operational responsibilities” you can still put him or her on a project. If it’s a project function, unless you are doing time-tracking and Business Resource Management, the difference between a resource’s 50% or 300% on projects is just a matter of… numbers.
For many of us, projects became a synonym of change. These days, one starts to believe that before this concept was rediscovered in the western economy, progress was virtually non-existent.
I have the impression that projects aren’t so popular in Japan. The traditional approach, Kaizen, is more about small, continual improvements rather than bursts resulting from additional, project effort. Why is that? Why does Toyota strive to create the best basis for small, numerous improvements, to make it as easy as possible for everyone, instead of spending zillions on projects? Do we miss something here?
I believe that integrity is about balance. About small improvements in a generally strong, consistent system.
I cannot provide a certain answer to the question posed in the title. But I am very much aware where projects came from and where they are indisposable (construction industry). I’m not sure their grounds are equally solid where I see them now.