Managing Projects and Herzberg’s two factor theory

The topic of interest today is what has more prominence in project management – methodology or intuition. Let us make an attempt to answer this using an analogy to Herzberg’s two factor theory.

For those not familiar with Herzberg’s two factor theory, it is as follows:
The theory (also known as Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory and Dual-Factor Theory) states that there are certain factors called as the motivational factors in the workplace that cause job satisfaction, while a separate set of factors cause dissatisfaction and termed as the hygiene factors. It was developed by Frederick Herzberg, a psychologist, who theorized that job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction act independently of each other. (for more refer to Two factor theory on wikipedia)
in simple words it means that presence of motivation factors enhances performance and absence of hygiene factors decreases performance. 

In a similar way, Methodology and Intuition though independent of each other have an influence on the end outcome. Absence of relevant methodology would not get you project success as it is akin to the hygience factors. Intuition on the other hand which is generally based on years of experience or could be a natural gift is a kind of motivational factor. It enhances chances of your success but still you need to have that backbone of methodology on which you stand.

So both are essential and have their rightful place. Methodology tells you what are the things you must do to achieve a certain objective and intuition tells you what is the right thing to do provided the circumstances. Both are complementary to each other and not in conflict.

New managers would rely more on methodology which is the collective experience of the domain since he/she have yet to develop that “intuition’ when you simply know something’s going to work and something is not.

Seasoned project managers still use the methodology, they don’t just probably realize it as much since its hard-wired in them.

All said and done, project management is both an art and a science. The key is to finding the right balance between the two and making that “right” judgement.

Hrishikesh Karekar

Hrishikesh is an enterprise agile coach with interests in varied disciplines. Frequently writing on Agile and Lean related topics, he also occasionally ventures into other stuff like Artificial Intelligence as well..