A single chart, the Gantt chart, revolutionised management in the 20th century. Developed by mechanical engineer Henry Gantt in the 1910s, the chart provided a visual representation of a project’s timeline, detailing when tasks should start and finish. This enabled managers to organise work more efficiently and effectively.

Gantt charts were initially used in shipbuilding during World War I and later adopted by industries worldwide. They were instrumental in the construction of the Hoover Dam and the Interstate Highway System in the United States. By the 1980s, Gantt charts were computerised, making them more accessible and widespread.

Despite their success, Gantt charts have limitations. They assume that work is predictable and linear, which is not always the case. Projects often face unforeseen challenges and delays. Moreover, Gantt charts focus on tasks rather than the people doing the work, which can lead to a disconnect between management and employees.

Today, alternatives to Gantt charts are emerging. Agile methodologies, for example, prioritise flexibility and responsiveness over rigid planning. However, Gantt’s legacy remains significant. His chart transformed the way work is managed and continues to shape modern project management.

Go to source article: http://hbr.org/2014/09/the-chart-that-organized-the-20th-century/ar/1