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Physics of Projects

What are the similarities between projects, project management and particle physics?

9 May 2015 – Bob Prieto, senior vice president at Fluor corporation in the United States, has authored another unique paper in May edition of the PM World Journal. Titled Physics of Projects, his new paper drawing on developments in modern physics has been added to the PM World Library earlier this month.

According to the introduction, “My last paper posed the question as to whether it is time to rethink project management theory, at least as it applies to the universe of large projects. Based on the number of emails and discussions that this has triggered I feel more confident than before that this is a question best answered “YES”. In thinking about this question and precedents for development of new fundamental theories to address special or radically different circumstances I was struck by the development of new fundamental theories in the world of physics.

In that field, classical theory, sometimes referred to as the theory of mechanics, were underpinned by Newton’s Laws of Motion. These laws can be described as encompassing an inertial frame of reference and a deterministic nature in addition to the stalwart equation of F=ma that we are all familiar with. But as time moved on, physicists realized that these theories did not adequately describe the universe around us as we considered extremes relative to our more common experiences. This led to the development of neo-classical theories that include quantum mechanics with its characteristics of a probabilistic world, that forces us to abandon the notion of precisely defined trajectories through time and space, and uncertainty, that says we can’t know location and velocity precisely at the same time…”

To read this paper, go to Bob’s author showcase page in the PMWL at and click on the title. Free access, but must be a logged in library member to access after 10 June 2015.