The very first time I taught a class in project management was well before the days of PowerPoint and LCD projectors. In fact, my presentation materials consisted of overhead slides that I had created by hand with rub-on letters since color printers were more expensive than manual labor. As a result, I tried to keep the amount of text down to an absolute minimum. So on the slide that introduced the concept of a Work Breakdown Structure, I used the acronym WBS without spelling it out in full.
I was well aware of the potential for confusion, and I am pretty sure that I explained what the acronym stood for when the slide went up. But either I hadn’t explained, or I hadn’t done it very well, because not long after I began to discuss WBSs, a participant at the back of the room raised their hand and asked, “I understand what the last two letters stand for, but what does the first one mean?” While I was still trying to digest that question, another student towards the front of the room called out “wholesale!”
Unfortunately, this perception is all too common. When it comes to developing a WBS, all too many project managers are still swearing at it instead of swearing by it. Continue reading “Six Steps to a (More) Useful WBS”