Gantt's Positive Attitude Impacts Project Management's Development
While Taylor earned the scorn of critics for his low opinion of the American worker’s intelligence, Gantt held a different philosophy that allowed his ideas to spread more readily. Instead of concerning himself with profit and efficiency, Gantt focused on the empowerment of the American worker through organized action. Like Taylor, Gantt believed that improved efficiency would lead to shorter workweeks and higher wages. However, Gantt also focused on the American ideal of worker satisfaction. Given a choice, Gantt believed, laborers would prefer to work hard as part of a team with clear goals, deadlines, and incentives. Many of his ideas about motivation and compensation still influence the HR policies at the world’s biggest corporations.
Of course, Henry Gantt wasn’t the only business strategist developing the nascent role of a project manager in industry. Polish economist Karol Adamiecki is widely credited with developing a charting system very similar to Gantt’s at about the same time. Without the benefit of English language publication and Gantt’s exposure to American industry, it would take a few more decades before project management professionals would start to feel his influence.
Nonetheless, Gantt laid the foundations of project management through his consulting practice and in a series of books written between 1903 and 1919. By the time his final book was published, Gantt had developed strong theories about task scheduling and professional development. He believed that minimizing interference between tasks could unlock the true potential of teams, and that tracking efficiency over time could lead to stronger productivity.
Although Gantt designed his charts with everyday tasks and quarterly evaluations in mind, a new generation of project management professionals would use his work to keep pace with the evolving nature of work in the 20th Century…