I was wondering how many different Project Management schools of thought exist.

Is it specific to the type of project you manage, to region, country etc.

Where could I find some resources about it, advantages/disadvantages, when use one style when the other, this kind of stuff.

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2 Answers 2


There are as many 'schools of thought' as there are project managers but two 'schools' are the foundation for how most project managers work:

  1. Thinking that you know (nearly) all the scope beforehand, i.e. Waterfall
  2. Thinking that you know little to no scope beforehand, i.e. Agile

Here's two supporting links describing variations and context:

To summarize some of the key characteristics:

  1. Waterfall assumes that the project is operating in a well-defined or regulated domain (think government, accounting, software ports, or large enhancements to an existing system). It places an emphasis on defining a lot of requirements and design decisions upfront, and basically executing the work until completion. Any new requirements or scope generally will wait until the originally designated scope is complete, and then a new project is initiated to address new requirements. Documentation and pre-determination are highly valued.
  2. Agile assumes that the project is in a new space or domain that doesn't have well-prescribed rules. The PMBOK likes the term "rolling wave" to basically say that there's stuff you know ahead of time, and plenty of stuff you don't. As you do work to investigate the stuff you don't know, that becomes part of the stuff you do know. Then, frameworks like Scrum will designate a role to prioritize and manage that stuff into bundles of work in order to deliver functioning products/services continuously instead of in a big bang. Team dynamics and incremental delivery are highly valued.

Advantages and disadvantages really reside with the stakeholders; that is, do you have folks who are willing to effectively write you a Time and Materials contract (go for Agile), or do they insist on a Fixed Price contract (go for Waterfall)? Whichever way your stakeholders are willing to go will dictate which 'school' you ought to follow. At the end of the day, project management is really about managing changes to the project's journey, and delivering something at the end. The 'school' you follow provides nothing more than templates to use.

  • I would add that there appears to be different varieties of traditional - there's the PMBOK, but then there's this PRINCE2 thing. Commented Jul 14, 2011 at 3:07

There as many schools of thought as there are PM's. Each one of us has a slightly different take on things, each one thinks a different aspect is 'most important', each one sees the role a little different.

I think trying to find information is going to be dependent on your particular interests. If you're interested in Agile, then start by focusing on books, forums, etc. that are Agile focused. If it's just PM in general, then dive in to it all; LinkedIn groups, pmStudent, books, podcasts, Gantthead, etc.

There's a wealth of information out there.

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