After a project manager and a sponsor agree on a project's specification, the project manager can proceed to develop a work breakdown structure. Identifying the major tasks that can be broken down into work packages is the beginning of the project planning procedure. The project manager recruits the specialists indicated by the work packages for the project team, and with their assistance, he or she develops the project task list, assigning each task to a member of the project team to execute or to lead colleagues to execute. (A task is a work unit that needs no further breakdown to guide the task worker or task workgroup in executing the effort.)
When the work breakdown structure suggests that no more than 30 task leaders will be needed, the project fits the model for a basic project. The project team will be small enough so that the IPM principles of collaborative leadership can be comfortably and efficiently used.
Many small- and medium-sized project efforts have this characteristic; however, the designation of "small" or "medium" does not necessarily mean that a project will be short or simple. Altogether, the project could encompass several hundred tasks, some of which may be very challenging, possibly requiring several planned iterations to "get it right." Task workgroups may each be responsible for several or even dozens of tasks. Some tasks may take weeks or months to accomplish. Nevertheless, if one team of task leaders numbering 30 or less can cover all task responsibilities, the project is deemed to be a basic project and can be executed according to IPM methodology, with one person working full time in the project management role.
At some point, the project manager may recruit team leaders to assist with management as well as to participate in collaborative leadership. However, a single project manager can handle the responsibility of monitoring and guiding the execution of a basic project; a single project team can collaborate to do the work (see Figure 16-1).