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Gantt Charts & Bar Graphs: Henry Gantt's Contributions to Management

  • 0:09 Blamestorming
  • 0:53 Henry Gantt
  • 1:34 Gantt Chart
  • 3:44 Task & Bonus
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sherri Hartzell

Sherri has taught college business and communication courses. She also holds three degrees including communications, business, educational leadership/technology.

This lesson will describe how Henry Gantt revolutionized management practices by providing a graphical representation, also known as the Gantt chart, of work processes that showed scheduling and monitoring projections. Other contributions of Henry Gantt, such as the task and bonus system, will also be discussed.


Blamestorming is defined as a group of people sitting around trying to figure out who to blame for missing a project's deadline. Perhaps you've taken part in a blamestorming session. You might even be the reason why your co-workers needed to blamestorm, or maybe you are the blamestorm instigator. No matter what side of the fence you sit on during a blamestorming session, I have a solution for you. It can be found in the works of Henry Gantt! So, all you blamers and blamees, grab a piece of paper and a pen; a solution is about to come your way that will show you how to track project milestones and final deadlines so that you will never have to participate in a blamestorming session again!

Henry Gantt

Henry Gantt was an advisor and consultant on management practices.
Henry Gantt

Henry Gantt, an associate of Fredrick Taylor, was a mechanical engineer during the early 1900s who spent his time as an advisor and consultant on management practices. His main focus was to apply scientific analysis to all facets of the work being done as a means of increasing productivity. His two major contributions were the Gantt chart and the task and bonus system, both of which will be discussed next. Much of what Gantt developed during this time was considered groundbreaking, and it revolutionized scientific management. Many of his ideas are still widely used in project management today.

The Gantt Chart

As Gantt spent time scrutinizing the work process with the comprehensive goal of planning and implementing a work breakdown structure, he wanted to have a visual representation of what was actually occurring over the course of a project. Specifically, Gantt focused on creating a graphical representation of work processes that showed scheduling and monitoring projections. What Gantt came up with was a bar chart that demonstrated a project's schedule, showing terminal and summary elements from start to finish.

Terminal elements are the smaller more intricate tasks that need to be completed as part of a larger task. A summary element is made up of terminal elements to form the larger task. For example, a summary element for a car manufacturer would be to paint the vehicle. The terminal elements of painting the vehicle would be to strip any original paint, primer, apply your first, second and top coats, and finally, wash, wax and buff the new paint job. Once the terminal and summary elements are defined, a manager can then add projected and actual projection for completion of each of those elements. The time schedules are plotted on the graph using bars. These can be used to come up with deadlines. Once plotted together, it becomes easy for others to understand the individual work tasks and their due dates within the greater project deadline. This also demonstrates areas that can be done concurrently with other tasks and what tasks are dependent on the completion of others.

Gantt created a bar chart that showed terminal and summary elements from start to finish.
gantt chart

The Gantt chart was first used on large construction projects, such as the Hoover Dam in the 1930s and the Eisenhower interstate highway network in the 1950s. Many contemporary managers rely on software programs to create Gantt charts. Such programs have advanced features that allow managers to manipulate data in several ways, aiding in their understanding of the overall project.

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