Visual Project Management Now Available in Paperback!


We have had numerous requests over the last six months to provide Visual Project Management in paperback format and we are pleased to announce that effective October 1st, 2015, Visual Project Management is now available in paperback across all of our publication release markets:



Direct from Lulu, our printing house (15% Discount)






Barnes & Noble



For those who still prefer the hardcover format, we are celebrating our paperback release with a expanded discount (30%) on the hardcover copy via Lulu.

For additional information regarding Visual Project Management concepts, please click HERE!


Project War Room Design Fundamentals

War Room

One of the more popular and unique services we provide here at Think For A Change, LLC are design services for organizational-level project war rooms.  As you may recall from a previous post, war rooms are centralized and purpose-built project meeting spaces that provide a dedicated location for project teams and stakeholders to co-locate and visually communicate the activities associated with the execution of critical projects.  The idea of a war room is to physically gather an entire project team into a ‘single location’ to facilitate communication, problem solving, risk mitigation and status reporting.  The single location can be physical, virtual or some combination of the two based on the specifics of the organization’s business structure and/or resource model.


Over the past fifteen years, Think For A Change, LLC has designed dozens of project war rooms, PMO command centers, critical situation rooms, innovation idea centers and other similar collaboration spaces for public, private and governmental organizations of all sizes and industry types.  During that time, we’ve picked up quite a few “lessons learned” about what makes up a good war room layout, what tools and features are most effective, and leveraging the concept to reach peak project team performance.

There is a blend of art and science that goes into designing and building a war room.  Team dynamics, organizational culture, physical limitations and financial considerations all dictate a certain uniqueness for each and every war room layout, tools, rules and etiquette.

To provide a starting place for discussions your organization may want to have regarding war rooms, we offer the following design, maintenance and best practice considerations:

  1. Physical War Room Facilities
    1. Large main table with comfortable chairs
    2. Small semi-private work spaces
    3. Small collaboration or huddle spaces
    4. Appropriate high-tech tools
      1. PCs/monitors, laptops, tablet devices, flat panel display(s), projection units/screen(s), digital camera(s), networking/wireless connectivity, etc.
    5. Appropriate low-tech tools
      1. Whiteboards, markers, easel pads, pencils/pens (including color), notebooks, sticky notes, stickers, sticky flags, office supplies, etc.
    6. Lots of wall space
      1. Cork bulletin boards, magnet boards, foam boards, mounted white boards, erasable wall paint, tape, tacks, pins, removable adhesive, hanging strips, etc.
    7. Environmental
      1. Kitchen items, coffee machine, a place for food, a small refrigerator for drinks, a snack basket, comfortable chairs, creativity “toys” and games, etc.
  2. Design and Operation Best Practices
    1. Co-locate all project team members into the war room, even if some are virtual or remote
    2. As a team, come up with a set of “Rules for the War Room” and stick to them
    3. If possible, create a separate schedule/calendar for project team members so they are not distracted by other projects or daily operations
    4. Reserve work spaces for visiting or transient key project stakeholders that are not co-located with the rest of the project team
    5. Develop a method to reduce distractions by allowing the team to hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign when focused work or critical meetings are taking place
    6. Create a real estate map of the project war room to define what visual information will be displayed where:
      1. Announcements and Key Communications
      2. Rules of the War Room
      3. Status Reports
      4. Project Schedule
      5. Project Budget
      6. Issue/Risk Board
      7. Design Diagrams, Process Maps, Wireframes, Storyboards, Photos, Drawings, etc.
      8. Parking Lot Area (for out-of-scope or later phase consideration)
      9. Blank Spaces for New Concepts/Discussions
    7. Provide plenty of snacks, healthy alternatives and beverages where possible
    8. Allow the project team to design and decorate the work space to match their personality and to encourage a sense of comfort and ownership
  3. War Room Etiquette
    1. Keep visual displays up to date and meaningful
    2. Maintain a war room that is a “living,” constantly changing space and encourages open discussion, healthy debate and cross-functional problem solving
    3. Do not remove or cover-up someone else’s work in the display area(s) without first consulting with them
    4. Do not attempt to have private or confidential conversations in the war room


Remember that the main purpose of any war room is to facilitate real-time visual communication and collaboration activities.  It must simultaneously centralize focus, increase awareness, aid in decision-making and facilitate project execution actions.  Consider the design of your project war room successful when a person unfamiliar with the project can enter the room and grasp the current status and next steps of the effort within five minutes.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, the design of effective and efficient project war rooms is a very unique niche, and one that we are proud to provide to our clients.  If you would be interested in having a discussion about your plans for a project war room, please CONTACT US and we’ll be happy to schedule a discussion about your specific goals and ideas.  Additionally, this visual collaboration concept, along with over twenty-five other visual project management communication tools, is explored in greater detail within “Visual Project Management,” our newest publication and now available via paperback!  

Get a great discount via our book distribution provider Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu., or visit your favorite online book retailer to purchase a hardcover or eBook version!


Sneak Peek into PMI Global Congress 2015 – North America: Strategic Business Management Skills


On Tuesday, I was honored to serve on a panel discussion with a number of other PMI Global Congress 2015-North America presenters, who are also sharing their expertise and knowledge within the “Strategic Business Management Skills” area of PMI’s Talent Triangle.  The panel discussion was really more of a sneak peek into our respective presentations, with my focus being on visual project management.  Panel members were asked a number of questions, not only directly about their presentations, but also follow-up inquiries designed to provide a deeper dive into the subjects themselves.

PMI PreConf Webinar Page

The session moderator was Joanna Newman, a globally-respected Senior Program Manager from the UK.  Joanna did a fantastic job of helping the attendees obtain a great preview of our presentation topics, including offering up some challenging follow-up questions that I know added benefit to those listening.  She also led the group through a great “live fire” Q&A session following the panel discussion.  This was definitely an engaged and smart audience…lots of awesome questions!

PMI PreConf Webinar Snapshot


In addition to my preview of the Visual Project Management session, the panel consisted of Ori Schibi from Toronto, Canada, who discussed his presentation “Project Sponsorship: Senior Management’s Role in the Successful Outcome of Projects,” and Muhammad A. B. Ilyas and Mohamed Khalifa Hassa, both from Kuwait, and both sharing their work via the Congress presentation “Negotiate to Win Across Cultures.”

You can now listen to a recorded version of the webinar, and earn PDU credit, (Disclaimer…PMI PDU rules apply!) by either clicking on the webpages above, or by using the following link:

PLEASE NOTE:  This webinar is considered ‘premium’ material at  If you are a member in good standing of PMI, you are automatically granted Premium Access to everything on the site via easy registration or even your PMI login!  Alternatively, you can also register and subscribe to premium access HERE.


Again, it was a great honor to share the virtual “stage” with Joanna, Ori, Muhammad and Mohamed!  I am very much looking forward to meeting up with them at the Congress!  And, while I know that not all of the 675+ people who attended Tuesday’s webinar will be able to be present, I hope to meet as many of those who are able to make the trip to Orlando next month, including the readers of this blog!

If you are planning on attending, please send me a note so we can connect in person!  Looking forward to it!

Project Management: Connecting The Dots Between Strategy and Execution


“Strategic Execution” is one of those nebulous concepts that everyone claims to understand, but no one can really define.  It seems self-explanatory that effective strategic execution should start with a well-defined strategy, but this is unfortunately where many executives lose their way.  Rather than focus too much on strategy, everyone wants to jump directly into “execution,” because that is where leaders think they can have the most immediate and direct impact.  But executing anything without following the strategic reason for it is like putting the cart before the horse.

Strategy isn’t really all that difficult.  It is simply the purposeful decision to be something by a certain time in the future.  Seriously, its that simple.  If your organization decides it wants to be the recognized market leader in widget distribution by 2020, you’ve just established your strategy.  Good strategy is really about setting a goal, picking a niche, considering internal and external factors and establishing a deadline.  Strategies can take many forms across the spectrum of time.  Long-term strategy is usually a “softer goal” that defines the organization’s intended place in the market, while mid-range strategies are typically more focused and include specific areas of operational improvement or adjustment, milestones and more detailed plans or objectives.

By the time a strategy has been thought out, defined and planned, it begins to take on more of an implementation or execution-based look and feel.  Rather than statements of intention, execution plans define specific actions, approaches, timeboxes and resources being put to task in making the strategy real.  Sounds a lot like project management all of a sudden doesn’t it?  That’s not by accident.  In fact, that is why project management exists!  To bring order to a set of activities that are purposely designed and planned to bring about organizational strategy.
Roadmap-Telescope Graphic

Projects, and project management approaches, are the ultimate mechanism through which organizational strategy is delivered.  For most, the execution of strategic direction requires that a number of projects be initiated, each with a unique and varied impact across the entire organization.  This requires a high degree of skill and knowledge in the areas of organization, prioritization, compromise and planning.  Many companies tackle this challenge through the use of project portfolios.

Portfolios serve as a great “middle man” between strategic intent and actual delivery.  They are commonly used to organize all of the project-based work needed to meet strategic plans and then seek to optimize available organizational resources by establishing a schedule or roadmap of project execution.  The goal of any portfolio-based approach is maximize the value of the overall portfolio investments and to balance the strategic fit, timing and sequencing, investment risk, operational capability and resource capacity.

Innovation Portfolio Management Model
Within a portfolio, the actual work is completed via individual projects and by following project management discipline.  The execution of any great organizational strategy happens at the project level.  Because of the delivery-based discipline, the control mechanisms used for potential changes, the measurement of performance metrics and the management of risks and issues, project management serves and a vital tool for strategic execution.

As I mentioned in a previous blog article, Project Management *IS* Strategic Execution, “Strategic implementation, on the other hand, involves making decisions regarding how the organization’s resources (i.e. people, processes and systems) will be allocated, aligned, prioritized and mobilized towards achieving the identified strategic goals and objectives.  Successful project execution also results from activities that are well planned, communicated, aligned from top-to-bottom, monitored, controlled, managed and rewarded.”

Strategic execution remains both a buzzword and a legitimate focus for executive management teams.  Strategic planning and roadmapping activities are often much easier than the bare-knuckle hard work that comes with executing those plans.  But smart executive teams, the one’s with an effective project portfolio system and highly-skilled Project Management Office, will be able to leverage those tools, resources and experts for successful competitive advantage!

There are a number of great resources available today regarding strategy, strategic execution and leveraging project portfolio management.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Great Online Learning Opportunity from Udemy and Think For A Change, LLC

College Homework

The folks at Udemy, one of the largest online learning marketplaces in the world and a significant provider of project management professional development courses, have graciously offered fifty lucky visitors of Think For A Change with the opportunity to try one of their PM courses free of charge!  The course is titled “The Common Sense Approach to Learning PMP Project Management,” and includes 7 hours of content spread over 83 lectures!  This course is normally valued at $47, so this is indeed a generous offer from our friends at Udemy!

The course, developed by Marcos Garcia, PMP for Udemy, is a very comprehensive overview of the 5th Edition of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) published by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), and would be extremely beneficial to anyone pursuing their PMP® certification.  Even if you’re not a certification candidate, the course is a great introduction to the core of project management discipline and would be a fantastic opportunity to forward onto project stakeholders or sponsors who might benefit from better understanding the fundamentals of project management.

This offering from Udemy is limited to the first fifty (50) people who use this link:

The Common Sense Approach to Learning PMP Project Management

When you land on the course site, click the ‘Redeem a Coupon’ link as shown here:

And enter the redemption code: thinkforachange

Again, this opportunity is only available to the first fifty (50) people who register on Udemy and use the coupon code.

As a disclaimer, Think For A Change, LLC is not directly affiliated with Udemy and does not receive any compensation as part of this offer. We are exploring ways to use Udemy to develop our own set of instructional materials and are vocal champions of project management professional development, so we appreciate Udemy offering this great learning opportunity to our readers and visitors!

“Practice Makes Perfect!” – Project Management Simulations

practice image

Practice, practice, practice…that’s the key to success!”  How many times have you heard that phrase?  I know a lot of people who think nothing of putting in hour after hour of practice to get better at their personal passions such as golf, horseback riding or tennis.  But when I ask them if they apply the same drive for improvement into their professional life via the concept of “practice,” they look dumbfounded!  Look, if you want to get better any anything, personally or professionally, you have to gain experience. Real improvement requires you to face a wide variety of scenarios and learn from making various decisions.  What better way to fast-track the acquisition of that experience than practice?  And for project management professionals specifically, “practice” typically involves a concept known as simulation.

Simulations involve putting people into a realistic, simulated environment that allows them to experience complex situations or best practices, while creating deeper understanding of available choices, analyzing potential risks and/or benefits, and learning from expected results versus (un)intended consequences. Simulation-based learning has shown to be the most effective, long-term method for learning any new skill.  Supporting this theory, the National Training Laboratory (NTL) Institute for Applied Behavioral Science published a study of their findings regarding learning retention rates. They found that students retain on average:


National Training Laboratories Institute for Applied Behavioral Sciences, “The Learning Triangle: Retention Rates from Different Ways of Learning,” Bethel, Maine, 2005.

The purpose of simulation-based learning for the project management professional is to impart to learners the necessary competencies (i.e. knowledge, skills, and attitudes) needed to improve their project management performance and delivery results.  It challenges participants with the types of situations and problems that arise in real world projects.  One of the primary advantages of this approach is that the simulation provides a safe environment for learners to confront typical project problems, select a solution, make mistakes and analyze results.  Additionally, they gain insight (in real time) into the longer-term consequences of decisions they make. Through the simulation, participants learn how to track the evolution of key project parameters: scope, costs, schedule and quality, as well as human dynamics that project managers must face in leading teams and managing the expectations of stakeholders.  Further learning opportunities exist via simulation for key skills such as:

  • Determining the scope, goal and objectives of a project
  • Estimating costs and the impact of change on budgets
  • Breaking down work, planning tasks and allocating resources
  • Hands-on usage of different project management tools and templates
  • Learning to monitor and control the pace and progress of a project
  • Helping project teams make decisions under stress
  • Reacting professionally and appropriately in typical project management “crisis” situations

However, possibly the largest benefit that simulations bring is that they promote close team collaboration and communication.  Simulations provide significant impact to all organizational teams whether they are project-based, process-based or technical.  They are typically conducted in a group setting via classroom-based scenario “games” which portray projects in various stages and facing specific issues, risks, challenges and/or barriers to successful project delivery.  The simulation allows participants to work together as a project team to practice collaboration, communication and problem solving around the various obstacles presented in the scenario.  Constructive feedback, self-awareness and group discussions then help the team discover how their decisions resulted in certain results, as well as learning about alternative options and approaches they may not have considered.

In some process improvement focused simulations, players are guided through the same situational scenario numerous times, but different approaches or methodologies are deployed in each successive round.  For example, current organizational processes are applied in the first simulation, then industry best practice processes are used and finally, innovative new approaches are tested.  These repetitive scenarios allow the teams to learn the pros and cons of each approach as they relate to common problem sets.  Simulations are essentially “live-fire” feedback sessions where the participants capture lessons learned as the impact and result of each potential decision is made.

“Amateurs practice until they get it right, professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.” – Percy C. Buck

Beyond project management methodology or process training, the concept of simulation is completely applicable to scenarios generated from actual projects as well.  When projects encounter thorny issues or risks, simulations can be leveraged to test certain risk mitigation options or issue resolution approaches.  Simulations can also be used to provide the project team with better understanding of product usage or business process outcomes.

To help set up these practice sessions, a number of consultancy-based and online project simulations are now available in the marketplace that facilitate the design, execution and data gathering from project management-related simulation exercises.  These offerings range from project management skill building to realistic training environments for emergency scenarios.  Just conduct a web search for ‘project management simulation’ and you’ll receive a number of good options.

As project management practitioners, we all want to improve our skills and bring greater success to our projects.  While the concept of practice is nothing new to the sports world, it is still a relatively rare event in the business world.  The realities of the work day and schedule commitments often prevent taking time out to practice our professional skills.  But if we are to truly improve ourselves, our projects and our organizations, that is precisely what we need to do!  Simulations and other organizational practice-based activities provide just that opportunity.  Make the time for it today!

Upcoming Professional Development Opportunities with Think For A Change!


I wanted to take a quick moment to let my blog readers know about a couple of upcoming professional development opportunities involving Think For A Change, primarily for project management professionals, but also applicable to anyone in innovation management, strategic execution and leadership roles.

First, and one you’ve already heard much about here on the site:

2015 PMI Global Congress North America

Hopefully you are all aware by now that I’ll be presenting on one of my favorite topics, Visual Project Management, on Tuesday, October 13th at 10:45am.  Beyond that, there are 113 other presentations, workshops and panel discussions happening during the three-day Congress.  That’s a lot of PDU opportunities!  But there’s also great networking events, a chance to meet an impressive list of vendors who will be showcasing their products and services geared toward project management professionals, and the chance to simply unwind a bit and enjoy a world-class entertainment destination.  Finally, if that weren’t enough, if you register TODAY (08/04), you will save $300 off of the standard conference rate!

The second professional development opportunity involving Think For A Change is actually related to the first!

Webinar: Sneak Peek into PMI Global Congress 2015 – North America: Strategic Business Management Skills

I’ll be participating in a panel discussion with some great folks who are also presenting at this year’s Congress.  Our panel discussion shares the common theme of Strategic Business Management Skills, which is one of the core tenets of the new PMI Talent Triangle and will be actively promoted during the Congress.

Here are the webinar details:

SEPTEMBER 8, 2015 12:00 PM EDT (UTC-4)

Platform: Adobe Connect
Capacity: 1500
Duration: 60 min
Presenters: Colleen Braun, Cheryl Lee, Ori Schibi, Joanna Newman, Muhammad Abu Baker Ilyas, Mohamed Hassan,Paul Williams


An Inside Look at Strategic Business Management Skills Sessions at PMI® Global Congress 2015-North America

Join us for a panel discussion on Strategic Business Management Skills and get a glimpse into some of the key themes to be presented in this content area at PMI Global Congress 2015 –North America.  Various Congress presenters will discuss the following in this webinar:

  • Visual Project Management:  A new practice concept that integrates visual thinking tools and data visualization methodologies with more traditional project communication, reporting and collaboration practices.
    • Session Code and Title: NA15SBM12: Visual Project Management
    • Presenter: Paul R. Williams, PMP
  • Project Sponsorship: Senior Management’s Role in the Successful Outcome of Projects-How to become a more effective project sponsor and what project managers need to do to help sponsors perform their role more effectively.
    • Session Code and Title: NA15SBM08: Project Sponsorship: Senior Management’s Role in the Successful Outcome of Projects
    • Presenter(s): Presenter: Ori Schibi, MBA, PMP and Cheryl Lee, PMP, PMI-PBA, CBAP
  • Negotiate to Win Across Cultures-How to open negotiations, reach and maintain consensus, as well as handle changes or conflict.
    • Session Code and Title: NA15SBM06: Negotiate to Win Across CulturesPresenter(s): Mohamed Khalifa Hassan, PfMP, PgMP, PMP, PMI-SP, PMI-RMP, PMI-ACP, LIMC and Muhammad A. B. Ilyas, PMP, PgMP, PMI-SP, PMI-RMP, PMI-ACP

Moderator:  Joanna Newman, MBA, MCMI, PMP

If you are interested in attending the pre-conference webinar panel discussion, please REGISTER HERE.  Please note that the panel discussion and registration is hosted by and you may need a PMI, and/or Facebook account to register.


As we get closer to the conference date, I’ll be sharing additional details and opportunities to interact with me, including conference meet-ups, a book signing and even a post-conference webinar in November.  If you are attending this year’s Congress, PLEASE let me know via email so that we can meet, chat and share our networks!

Top Ten Executive Project Sponsorship Success Factors

Top Ten Executive Sponsorship Success Factors

Great New Visual Project Management Resource Now Available!

Good friend, mind mapping expert and owner of the Mind Mapping Software Blog, Chuck Frey has recently created and released a fantastic online learning course called, “Project Management With Mind Mapping Software.”



For those of you who have been following along with our Visual Project Management concept developments, you’ll know that mind mapping is an incredibly useful tool for project management professionals.  In fact, I dedicated an entire chapter of my new book, “Visual Project Management,” to this valuable technique.  As a refresher, mind maps can help project managers with:

  • Providing an ideal framework for documenting Work Breakdown Structure
  • Easily documenting in-scope and out-of-scope items
  • Organizing project resources, roles and responsibilities
  • Organizing project notes in a centralized location
  • Listing key project milestones, deliverables or other goals set by the project stakeholders
  • Serving as an “parking lot” for keeping meeting agenda topics, change requests, scope clarifications and other discussion points for future use or reference

In his new e-course, Chuck goes even deeper into this topic and provides additional benefits that project managers can use in their daily practice.  Any project manager would benefit, both from Chuck’s years of mind mapping experience and his unique view of applying these concepts to project management practice.

The course is quite comprehensive and covers the following concepts:

  • Why existing methods of project management aren’t as effective today
  • The benefits of using mind mapping software for project management
  • Which programs support project management functionality?
  • A glossary of relevant project management terms
  • A simple 9-step process for planning your projects – visually
  • Tips on how to be most effective when managing your projects with a mind map
  • The best resources on mind mapping software and project management, where you can continue to learn on your own

And, as an added bonus, he provides something few others can do, which is to provide truly expert analysis of the most popular software based mind mapping tools on the market today, including a bonus downloadable product comparison chart.

If you’re interested in taking your project management practice to the next level by using Visual Project Management, this e-course would be a great place to start learning more about one of the most popular and valuable visual thinking tools in use today, mind mapping!


DISCLOSURE: Chuck’s course does reference this blog and the book, Visual Project Management, in his course materials.  Chuck and I have known each other for a number of years as thought leaders in the innovation management space.  Even if this wasn’t the case, I’d still recommend this e-course as a very comprehensive and value-add educational resource for those wishing to learn more about this relatively new project management practice concept.

Visual Project Management – The Basics: Charting and Graphing

The bulk of all data visualization takes the form of a simple chart, diagram or graph.  In use across all varieties of business enterprise, a chart is simply is a graphical representation of data, in which “the data is represented by symbols, such as bars in a bar chart, lines in a line chart, or slices in a pie chart”.  Charts ease understanding of data and demonstrate various interrelationships that occur between data sets. Charts are typically read and understood more quickly than simple raw, numerical data since the human brain is generally able to infer meaning from pictures much quicker than from text or numbers alone.

The nomenclature used for a chart is typically interchangeable with the terms ‘diagram’ or ‘graph.’  Regardless, they all refer to a diagrammatical illustration of a set of data.  They are most often created by hand (sketch) or by computer using a charting application like Microsoft Excel®.

Rather than attempting to draw distinctions between a chart, diagram or graph, it is more valuable to understand which types of charts are more useful for presenting a given data set over another.  For example, data that is represented in percentages (fractional share, preference or departmental) is often displayed in a pie chart.  Comparing the sum totals of particular sets of data (number of instances), on the other hand, may be more easily understood when presented in a vertical bar chart. Or, data that represents numbers that change over a period of time (revenue, expenses or staffing) might be best shown as a line chart.

Common Types of General Charts, Diagrams & Graphs:

Bar Chart

Bar Chart: A chart with rectangular bars having lengths proportional to the values that they represent. The bars can be plotted vertically or horizontally. A vertical bar chart is sometimes called a column bar chart.

Line Chart

Line Chart: A type of chart which displays information as a series of data points called ‘markers’ which are connected by straight line segments. Information is most typically presented as a time series with the x-axis moving chronologically from left to right.  Earned value calculations on projects take the visual form of a line chart.

Pie Chart

Pie Chart: A circular statistical graphic, which is divided into sectors to illustrate numerical proportion, or percentage of the whole.  In project management, this is used frequently to display the breakdown of different resource or cost types.

Radar Diagram

Radar Chart: A graphical method of displaying data for two or more variables in the form of a two-dimensional chart of three or more quantitative variables represented on axes starting from the same point.  (also known as a Spider, Web or Star Chart).  Radar charts are popular for showing pre- and post-event changes, such as process improvement measurements.

Bubble Chart

Bubble Chart: A type of chart that displays three dimensions of data.  Bubble charts are frequently used to facilitate the understanding of social, economic, medical, and other scientific relationships. In project management discipline, it is very commonly used as a way to map out project portfolio investment balance and is typically presented to show strategic alignment (x-axis), impact (y-axis) and size of effort (data point size).


Waterfall Diagram

Waterfall Chart:  A type of chart used to depict the cumulative effect of sequentially introduced positive or negative values. Demonstrates how an initial value is affected by a series of intermediate positive or negative value-based events.  For project management applications, waterfall charts are used to show costs versus expected payback.

Shared Attributes of General Charts, Diagrams & Graphs:

Charts share a number of similar features that make it easier to understand what the data represents and serve as a frame of reference for viewer:


  • Bar, line and other similar charts often display data on a field of axes. Horizontal (x) and vertical (y) axis frame the field in which the data is analyzed. On some occasions where the data is presented in 3D format, the depth (z) axis is added.


  • Each axis must have a Scale provides the ratio of the size of a model or other representation to the actual size of the object represented.  Scale is frequently sub-divided by periodic graduation marks to aid the viewer in spatial reference.


  • Each axis will typically also have a label displayed outside or beside it, briefly describing the dimension represented.


  • Within the graph, a grid of lines may appear to aid in the visual alignment of data. Using the appropriate scale, major and minor grid lines can be set, with major grid lines typically being enhanced or emphasized to define the intervals.

Data Points

  • The data of a chart can be represented in any number of formats. For example, data may appear as dots, lines, symbols or shapes. The individual data points can be connected or unconnected, or they can take on any combination of colors and patterns.

Legend or Key

  • When the data appearing in a chart contains multiple variables, the chart may include a legend (also known as a key). A legend contains a list of the variables appearing in the chart and an example of their appearance. This information allows the data from each variable to be identified in the chart.

Common Types of Project Management Charts, Diagrams & Graphs:

Gantt Diagram

Gantt Chart:  A type of bar chart, developed by Henry Gantt in the 1910s, that illustrate a project schedule. Summary task, task level and milestone elements of the work breakdown structure of the project comprise what is typically represented on the Gantt chart.  Gantt charts can also show dependency (i.e., precedence network) relationships between activities and tasks. Gantt charts can also be used to show current schedule status using percent-complete shadings and a vertical marker line to represent the current date.

PERT Diagram

Project Network Diagram (PERT Charting):  A graphical flow chart that depicts the sequence of a project’s detailed task-level elements, including all pertinent dependencies. The project network diagram is drawn from left to right to reflect project chronology.  Modern day project network diagramming is a derivation of a more complex, but similar, past technique known as ‘PERT.’

PERT is the acronym for Program Evaluation and Review Technique, which is a method of analyzing all of the tasks involved in completing a given project, especially the time needed to complete each task, in order to identify the minimum time needed to complete the total project, also known as the ‘critical path.’  Developed primarily to simplify the planning and scheduling of large, complex and interdependent projects, it was developed for the U.S. Navy Special Projects Office in 1957 to support the U.S. Navy’s Polaris nuclear submarine project.

Many more charts, graphs and diagrams, including a number of additional project management specific tools, along with over twenty-five other visual project management communication concepts, are explored in greater detail within “Visual Project Management,” a recently released publication by Paul R. Williams, and now available to interested readers!