Breno Martinusso

~/tech/The one about the intricate Gantt charts

The one about the intricate Gantt charts

Waterfall Method

These charts are called Gantt charts, after Henry Gantt, who developed them. With the advent of personal computers in the 1980s making it easy to create these intricate charts - and to make them really complex - they have become works of art. Every single step in a project is laid out in detail. Every milestone. Every delivery date. These charts truly are impressive to behold. The only problem with them is that they are always, always wrong.

Henry Gantt invented his famous charts around 1910. They were first used in World War I by General William Crozier, who was the Chief of Ordnance for the US Army. Anyone who has studied that war knows that efficient organizational capability was not exactly a salient feature. Why a World War I artifact has become the de facto tool used in twenty-first-century project management has never been quite clear to me.