Could you please explain what is meant by "action-oriented" details in the following sentence. Please provide an example.

If the work breakdown structure designer attempts to capture any action-oriented details in the WBS, the designer will likely include either too many actions or too few actions.

Source: WBS - Wiki

1 Answer 1


In the context of the rest of the section, it is saying that you should focus on the outcome desired, not the action needed to get there. For example, I might say that I should have infrastructure deployed and sub-items may include networking, servers, power, etc. This is as opposed to the actions needed to get there (configure switch, wire racks, install OS, etc).

The wording, frankly, feels clunky to me, but might be summed up as "Say what must be accomplished, not how to accomplish it"

  • Thank you for your answer. In practice, one needs to identify the low level "actions" that compose a task because of possible dependencies and assign responsibilities. I understand that it is hard to identify each low level item when the high level plan is designed but at some point in time, I guess it must be done, may be at a "package-level".
    – NoChance
    Apr 8, 2019 at 3:13
  • 1
    The issue the statement is trying to resolve is that work, the action, is probabilistic while the outcome is the outcome. Take painting a wall as an example. If the WBS item was "painted, finished wall", then all of the actions needed to get to the outcome are included. If you broke it down into actions, such as 3 coats of paint, then the action scope become 3 coats of paint, not 4, not 2. If the wall needs 4, then what happens? Are you out of scope? If the wall only needed 2, do you apply one more? Apr 8, 2019 at 11:35
  • I'd upvote that answer
    – Daniel
    Apr 8, 2019 at 12:13

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