Volume 10, Issue 1, 2011
Wisdom and the Good Life
Bradley Rolfe, Steven Segal
Opening the Space of the Project Manager
A Phenomenological Approach
Edmund Husserl maintains that phenomenological thinking does not begin with the theoretical roof but with the foundations of immediate and concrete experience. Martin Heidegger claims that to begin with immediate experience is to think in moments of disruption or disturbance of the everyday. Using these positions as a starting point, this paper argues for a phenomenological approach to project management that explores the immediate and concrete experience
of project managers. In doing so it attempts to address an over-emphasis on the universalised and abstracted modes of theorising that currently dominate project management practice. Eugene Gendlin’s psycho-therapeutic technique of “focusing” provides a practical example of the phenomenological approach in action through a critical dialogue between researcher and practitioner, the co-authors of this paper. This paper argues that the insight derived from such an approach can do far more for a project manager in terms of their relationship to their work, the meaning they derive from it, and their effectiveness in the role, than a dedicated adherence to the strictures of traditional project management practice.