Hey, Gantt charts — my mama don’t like you and she likes everyone
monday.com offers Gantt chart! Learn more here.
We’re a nice bunch of people here at monday.com, but we don’t shy away from provocation or profanity. In fact, some of us are downright foul-mouthed. If you curse in a meeting, no one will blink twice. But there’s one term that does ruffle feathers around here—one that makes our founders visibly squirm and our product managers scowl with disgust. Gantt chart. Shudder.
It’s safe to say we’re not huge fans of Gantt charts. In fact, our CEO Roy Man has been officially quoted as saying: “We burned all our Gantt charts and cursed them for ever haunting our lives.”
Why all the animosity toward something as benign and boring as a poor little Gantt chart? Gantt charts reflect everything that we believe is wrong with project management. It’s not just a chart; it’s a worldview that has a significant impact on people’s productivity, effectiveness, and happiness in the workplace. But let’s back up a second. What’s a Gantt chart, anyway? A Gantt chart is a popular way to illustrate a project schedule, showing what has to be done over time.
Considered revolutionary when first devised by mechanical engineer Henry Gantt in the 1910s, people value Gantt charts because they make it easy to visualize a list of tasks, when they begin and end, and the start and end-date of a project as a whole. Gantt charts frequently show the dependency relationship between tasks—for example, when one task can’t start until another one ends—as well as percent-complete shadings to show where the project stands.
Mr. Gantt was enlisted by the American military to help prepare for WWI when they were facing the logistics of mobilizing soldiers and munitions on an unprecedented scale. Since then, Gantt charts have been used for large-scale infrastructure projects such as the construction management of the Hoover Dam and the Interstate Highway System of the United States.
So what’s the problem with Gantt charts? Meeting deadlines—good. Planning visually—good. Successfully building the Hoover Dam—good. We have a lot of respect for Mr. Gantt, and believe that if you’re planning to build another Hoover Dam, using a Gantt chart might make a whole lot of sense. But most of us are not building the Hoover Dam or mobilizing for war. (At least we really hope not.)
There’s a huge misconception that in order to be more productive and achieve great things, we need to become masters of project management. Here’s the thing, and it’s the core philosophy our product is built upon: You don’t manage projects; you only manage people.
Gantt charts manage tasks and projects. People are a resource, a side effect, a secondary consideration—for example, how many workers do you need to build a tunnel? The focus is always on the task and project at hand. Because they’re focused on projects and not people, Gantt charts can become extraordinarily complex. You get lost in a web of hierarchies, dependencies, and endless subtasks, and totally lose sight of the bigger picture. What’s everyone on your team working on? Who’s busy and who’s not? What are we even looking at? Who am I? How did I get here?
When Roy and Eran were in the very early days of founding monday.com, they interviewed hundreds of managers about the software and tools they were using, what worked for them, and what didn’t. Many people complained that they had become slaves to Gantt charts, endlessly working to update and maintain the complex web of interdependencies and subtasks.
Rather than making life easier, working with Gantt charts and other traditional project management methods simply created more work, headaches, and stress. What happens when you don’t know what else everyone else is working on, you can’t readily see the big picture, and you loathe the tools you use? Any number of bad things, but some of them include: missing deadlines, miscommunication, office politics, and low morale.
Roy and Eran set out to create something dramatically different. They were on a mission to create a tool that focused on people and the things they need most to be successful at work: transparency, freedom, and recognition for their accomplishments. And to facilitate all that, the tool would need to be one that’s actually fun and easy to use.
At the end of the day, people are your most critical and unpredictable resource: they get sick; they have many conflicting priorities; they get bored and confused and tired. When you have a tool that shows the big picture at all times, people know what’s important and understand how their tasks contribute to that end goal. It’s a completely different way to work, and it ultimately makes people happier and a lot more effective at what they do.
That’s the birth story of monday.com, and it’s the underlying philosophy behind our new timeline. You can now manage people and their workload in a totally visual way. It takes everything you’d want from a Gantt chart—time management made visual—but with total flexibility and simplicity, since that’s what people need. So what are the key differences between a Gantt chart and monday.com’s work operating system timeline?
- The timeline focuses on people, not tasks or projects
- The timeline is super flexible, without any metadata or dependencies to maintain
- You can always see the big picture of who’s working on what
- It forces you to “get real” with your plan, rather than planning in a vacuum
- It’s intuitive and a great asset for first-time managers
- It has powerful features for expert project managers to dive deeper and dissect
Time management isn’t just for planning big projects; it’s the best way to work every day and communicate about what you’re working on. So even though we really do respect Mr. Gantt and his contributions to humanity, we prefer to manage people, not tasks or projects, and created the timeline so that you can do just that.