It is easy to fail when nearing completion,
therefore, take care right up to the end,
not just in the beginning.

Tao Te Ching

Welcome to ❺PATHS

GDPM based philosophy with the ancient Five Elements theory

5-PATHS™, ❺PATHS™ and ➄PATHS™ refer to the same project management methodology
Developed by Attila LUKÁCS | Copyright © 2005-2020 Attila Lukács & 5-Ways. All rights reserved.

For the 21th anniversary. I met GDPM 21 years ago...

Introduction to ❺PATHS

❺PATHS™ Project Management Philosophy / methodology is fundamentally based on the western "Goal Directed Project Management" philosophy and on the eastern "Five Elements" theory. There are also other important sources applied such as Silva's Mind Control Concept and the responsibility matrix of Summit-D Systems Delivery methodology to make our approach more efficient, practical and understandable.

The term FIVE PATHS basically refers to the five essential Result-paths of the projects listed below (P.A.T.H.S.).


Processes & workflows development


Data, reports & knowledge development


Systems, tools, applications development


People, Human capabilities development


Organizations & Group structure development

Success oriented

Goal Directed approach


GDMP / ❺PATHS™ history

2016 - to date GDPM & 5-PATHS principles to be in Easy Project tool by Attila Lukács
2005 - to date Development of 5-PATHS philosophy / methodology by Attila Lukács
2006 First Hungarian GDPM book was translated and introduced by Zoltán Véry & Béla Ulicsák
2005 The idea of merging ancient eastern & recent western management philosophies (❺PATHS™) by Attila Lukács
2005 Hungarian translation and implementation of "GoalDirector" GDPM software tool by György Törő & Attila Lukács
2004 Third edition of "The more Goal Directed" GDPM was released by Andersen, Grude and co-authors: Mike Katagiri, Rodney Turner & Tor Haug
2002 Five elements to model workplace dynamics by Tom Graves
1994-1998 GDPM was introduced to PwC, GE Budapest Bank & MATÁV in Hungary by György Törő
1992-1997 GDPM Excel tool was developed by Coopers & Lybrand / PwC consultants
cca. 1989 - 1992 GDPM was introduced to business life World-wide and became standard within C&L by Coopers & Lybrand
1987 Goal Directed Project Management is published by Kogan Page Erling S. Andersen, Kristoffer V. Grude, Tor Haug, Rodney Turner
1984 First release of Goal Directed Project Management (GDPM) - "Målrettet prosjektstyring" Erling S. Andersen & Kristoffer V. Grude
1959 "Project Manager" expression in the Harward Business Review by Paul Gaddis
1956 US-Air Force: C/SCSC (Cost/Schedule Control System Criteria) US-Air Force Project Management Manual
1944 - 1970s Theoretical basics of modern Project Management. Linear, mainly task-driven PM US-Air Force, US-Navy, NASA, etc.
cca. 1941 - 1944 Manhattan Engineering District Project First Project Management documentation

They had an influence on ❺PATHS™...

I've been managing projects since 1993...

From 1999 to 2011 I've studied and researched thoroughly ancient cultures back to 5000 years including the Taoism, the book "I Ching" and "Five elements" theory.

In 2005 I had a dream to combine the recent western management methodologies with the ancient eastern management philosophies.

Thanks to Tom Graves for his great essay "Five elements to model workplace dynamics" published in 2002. In 2005 this essey illuminated how to combine the five elements theory with GDPM basics.

Thanks to the developers of the New York State Project Management Guidebook. This open guidebook had also an influence on the development of ❺PATHS™ methodology framework.

Thanks to Allan Elder's "Five Elements of a Project" essey. Allan's five project elements point out the essence of the Project Management. "#3 - One Accountable Entity"

Thanks to Jose Silva's "Mental Screen" technique of his Mind Control method. This is really aligned with the Goal Directed, Success Driven Project Management philosophy.

Many thanks to my mentor György Törő for introducing the GDPM basics in 1998. Many many thanks for all his great ideas, instructions and help in Project Management. "A Project has only ONE Project Manager"

Special thanks to Erling S. Andersen, Kristoffer V. Grude, Tor Haug, Rodney Turner and Mike Katagiri for the fantastic GDPM philosophy!

And last but not least thanks to the ANCIENT EASTERN SAGES and gurus for the "Five Elements" theory and for the book "I Ching"!

Attila Lukács

The five elements theory

developed in China thousand years ago

In most ancient cultures elements principally appeared as subtsances (Hinduist, Hellenic) or sensed, perceived physical things (Buddhist). The Chinese philosophy conceived of the so called "Five elements" (Wu Xing) as dynamic states of Change. The very ancient concept of Wu Xing is applied as a universal device in Chinese thought including military strategy, martial arts, astrology, science, philosophy, music, medicine as well as Feng-shui.

According to some researcher's opinion it was applied primarily in ceremonies and political management several thousand years ago. (Among of others, that is why it became the keystone of our Project Management methodology).

Although the the term "Five elements" is frequently used and wide-spreaded, the correct translation of the original

Chinese term ("Wu zhong liu xing zhi chi") would be the "Five Qualities of Change", "Five States of Change" or "Five Movements of Change".

This ancient holistic theory comprises a dynamic system that describes natural, cyclical movements within space and therefore time as well. This approach enables a practitioner to think and act more efficiently.

The theory describes the five observable qualities, elements, states or transition stages of the CHANGE with their complex interactions and interrelationships. It represents five different qualities of natural phenomena rather than five fixed substances.

The five universal, interconnecting elements / qualities / movements of change - in the order of natural lifecycle from beginnings to completions - are the following:

  1. ㊍ Wood element (green) - originating, generating, forming & ascending qualities of changes
  2. ㊋ Fire element (red) - growing, developing, expanding & culminating qualities of changes
  3. ㊏ Earth element (yellow) - receptive, central, stabilizing, harmonizing & transitioning qualities
  4. ㊎ Metal element (gray-white) - structural, diminishing, realizing & releasing qualities of changes
  5. ㊌ Water element (blue-black) - descending, finishing and gathering qualities of changes

All the five states/elements/QUALITY of the CHANGE are ESSENTIAL, but none of them should be under- or overemphasized. There is another important thing: nothing is constant but the Change itself. The ancient Eastern approaches including Five Elements theory announce that all things are cycling and changing and the CHANGE itself is in balance when all the five elements interact in harmony.

Please note that usually we are not talking about real materials in relation to Five Elements. The names are rather symbolic, the metaphorical representations of the way the changing energy / quality behaves. The ancient Eastern approaches (content of the Book of Changes /I-Ching/, Yin-Yang, Five elements) can describe all phenomena of our changing world, however we only introduce it as the part of our comprehensive change and project management approach.

❺PATHS PM philosophy and framework

(developed by Attila Lukács 2005 - to date)

General description

The term FIVE PATHS basically refers to the five essential Result-paths of the projects. However, as we inspect the entire methodology framework at top level, we can see it handles the following components:

  • the five major Project types (P.A.T.H.S.)
  • the five major Uncertainty and risk factors of Projects (each also has five child areas)
  • the five essential Result-paths of the Projects (P.A.T.H.S.)
  • the five Project Management LifeCycle elements (Origination, Initiation, Planning, Execution/Control, Closure)
  • five unique Project LifeCycle elements (e.g.: Preparation, Design, Realization, Final preparation, Go-live and support)
  • the five 'ideal' Responsibilities of project milestones and activities (I.D.E.A.L.) - similar to RACI
  • the five smart Features of Milestones and Project Goals (S.M.A.R.T.)
These components - directly or indirectly - all related to the number five, the term "five paths" and the five elements/movements/quality of Change.

About the number 5 (five)

Why is number 5 (five) so important in our project management approach and in the entire methodology? As we mentioned, our ❺PATHS™ heavily relies on the "Five Elements" theory, classifies projects into five different categories and walks through the five essential result-paths when defining GOALS. This would be a self-sufficing argument, however using number 5 (five) also guides us to a senseful and interesting world !
  1. Our brain could still easily memorizes the quantity of five (things, components, elements, anything...). and at the same time it is capable to depict complex phenomena of our life!
  2. Number five is symbolizing the Human Being itselft. It is very important as we are the CENTER of all planned CHANGES ! (Please note that is common in the western as well as in the eastern cultures...) Also, Human beings have 5 main organs, 5+5 fingers, 5+5 toes, 5 main sensories and 5 limbs !
  3. Number five is symbolizing progress, evolution, energy and five main directions/elements in a change process
  4. Furthermore number five is symbolizing harmony, balance, happiness, accomplishment and perfection
  5. And last but not least, this is a prime number. Prime numbers are very important in our life... Five is however, not only an "ordinary" prime number.

About the acronym and word PATHS

To represent our holistic project management approach in verbal and written manner, we invoked the English language (as the world's current, common business language), the eastern philosophies and some "tricks" to create a very expressive agnomination.

All five parts (and their child areas also) are represented verbally by the acronym and word "paths". It has an adequate MEANING in English. Paths are the trodden ways, routes, courses which might imply both the ways of changes and the routes of changes as depicted in the "Five Elements" theory. Nevertheless these five initials - P.A.T.H.S. - always reminds us the name of the five essential paths to be followed when defininig our projects goals. In the 5-PATHS™ methodology, the letters of "PATHS" correspond to the five elements / movements / quality of CHANGE !

Please note that the acronym "P.A.T.H.S." never refers to a sequential or logical order in our methodology as far as the order of initials concerned ! The "Five Elements" theory depicts the elements/movements of the change in the order of natural lifecycle from beginnings to completions. According to this order our acronym would change to the meaningless acronym: S.A.H.T.P.

Components of ❺PATHS™ methodology

Components - corresponding to "Five Elements" theory in the order of natural lifecycle from beginnings to completions - listed in the table below:

❺ Elements / ❺PATHS™ components
㊍ Wood element
㊋ Fire element
㊏ Earth element
㊎ Metal element
㊌ Water element
S: "Organization" type
A: "Data, information, knowledge" type
H: "Human, people" type
T: "Technology, IT" type
P: "Process" type
➄ MAIN uncertainty & RISK categories
S: Project environment
A: Goals and Scope
H: Stakeholders, team-members
T: Material resources
P: Work and Schedule
The ❺ essential Result-paths (❺PATHS™)
S Society
"a crowded Wood"
A Acquirements
"illuminating as Fire"
H Humans
"center as the Earth"
T Technologies
"the structure of Metal"
P Processes
"flowing as Water"
The ❺ stages of
Project Management Life Cycle (PMLC)
1. Origination
2. Initiation
3. Planning
4. Execution & control

5. Closure
Project Life Cycle phases example (IT)
I. Preparation
II. Design
III. Realization
IV. Final preparation
V. Go-live and support
Tom Graves' workplace dynamics model

"Forming" - Origin

"Storming" - Creativity

"Norming" - Center & balance

"Performing" - Execution, control

"Adjourning" - End, close

❺PATHS ➄Life Cycle phases

The five Project Management Life Cycle phases + Project Life Cycle phases

5-PATHS processes

Project Management Life Cycle = Enterprise Project Management Process!

The five PM Life Cycle phases aligned with the 5 elements theory

The generative PM Life Cycle
5-PATHS generative life cycle

The ❺ Project Management Life Cycle elements model of ❺PATHS™ methodology - see full document here -> Open PDF file

Alignment with the 5 elements theory (excerpt from the PDF)
"...As a result we can observe the following phenomena in compliance with Five Elements theory. If a Project Management element and its transition process (to the next proper PMLC element) is not suitably applied or handled, a natural counterforce may weaken, decrease, restrict the related Project Management element or the whole lifecycle, according to one of the three restrictive circuits…

In short, if we act in accordance with the instructions listed below we may have a balanced Project Management and a successful Project. Therefore, let us try to follow the natural way:
  • Always start with Project Origination element and its transition processes properly
  • Avoid skipping any element or transition phase/stage of “Generative circuit”
  • Prevent going to the opposite direction of “Generative circuit” of Project Management Lifecycle
  • Stay away from underemphasizing a Project Management element or its transition processes
  • Keep away from overemphasizing a Project Management element or its transition processes"

GDPM Milestones

What Constitutes a Milestone?

Milestones represent the key decision points between the beginning and the end of the project the decision each time being, "Has this state been achieved?" We need to describe each milestone very carefully to allow us to discuss the status of the project at any time (taking corrective action if necessary).

The milestone has three elements:
  • The state to be achieved (a general description)
  • The criteria necessary to achieve this desired state (specific and measurable)
  • An estimated target date (to be refined by the next layer of planning !)
5-PATHS processes

Result-paths in GDPM and ❺PATHS™

Result paths in the GDPM approach

In Goal-Directed Project Management (GDPM) methodology "Result paths" are the so called "Focus Areas" to categorize the Milestones of the Project. Theoretically, these Result paths would refer to any area of your project associated with any, expressive name. It only depends on you and your planning team. However, according to GDPM recommendations, result-paths would refer to People, Systems, Organization (PSO) and - by some recent opinion - to Project as well.

Result paths complement the Milestone plan by showing:
  • The different types of goal you are working towards during the lifecycle of the project
  • A readily-accessible and readable plan
  • Parallel progress towards the final goal (not a series of "relays")
  • Areas of risk
Result paths separate the project into coherent and logical sub-projects. Drawing the result paths helps you to perform a preliminary scan of the time line to follow. At this stage of planning, the milestones should be spaced fairly evenly throughout the project. The refinement "converting rough estimates to actual dates" can only be achieved when you undertake more detailed planning.

Result paths in the ❺PATHS methodology framework

Applying ❺PATHS™ approach - though it is undoubtedly based on goal-directed philosophy - things are sligthly different. In the ❺PATHS™ methodology ALL PROJECTS have FIVE result-paths in ANY CASE, namely:
  1. Processes - corresponds to nothing in GDPM. (it may belong to "Organization" result-path)
  2. Acquirements (Awareness, Attainements) - corresponds to nothing in GDPM.
  3. Tools & Technologies - corresponds to "Sytems" in GDPM.
  4. Humans - corresponds to "People" in GDPM.
  5. Society (in fact organization) - corresponds to "Organization" in GDPM.

This practical "result-path" approach of ❺PATHS™ derives from the many thousand years old "Five Elements" theory as well as from professional and personal LIFE EXPERIENCES.

As GDPM balances the goals for People, Systems and Organizations, ❺PATHS™ balances the goals for the "five elements" (result-paths) of the Project:
Processes, Acquirements, Tools, Humans and Society. These five essential result-paths comprise a holistic unity and none of them should be over- or underemphasized in accordance with the "Five Elements" theory. (This theory states: when the equilibrium of the five elements is disintegrated it could drive to failures at all areas of our life).

❺PATHS™ not only extends the original GDPM result-paths approach, but heavily relies on it. We can observe the following phenomenon in life (no matter if it is in our personal or in our professional life...): we usually composing GOALS on all five essential result-paths during our planned, resourced, time-bound and individual changes (a.k.a.: projects). Just project your vision to your "Mental Screen". After you watched your short "movie" you can easily identify your goals on all five PATHS...

5-PATHS Deliverable Breakdown Structure (DBS)

Need for Change - Originating a project using 5-PATHS

Origination stage (phase) is associated with ㊍ Wood element which refers to the originating, generating, forming & ascending qualities of changes.

In order to originate a project (lead up to an initiative) the five steps listed below is highly recommended:

  1. Projecting on a Big Screen. What do we want to achieve? Generating Ideas to form goals on a high level. A "fictive picture" or "fictive short movie" could represent this projecting (see eg.: Mental Screen in Silva's method). Volunteers can make it with a presentation screen or with a short video clip. (eg.: it is like a 3D visualization in architectural design)
  2. Preliminary Milestone Planning on 5 result paths - final milestone derived from high level ultimate goals
  3. Forming high-level Deliverable Breakdown Structure (DBS) - only MAIN Deliverables of identified Milestones
  4. Gathering information, forming tangible and intangible benefits. Investigating Process, dAta, Technology, Human and organiSational environments (P.A.T.H.S.). Investigate potential financial, human and material resources. SWOT analysis. Creating a Business Case.
  5. Creating and submitting a "Project Initiative" document for the appropriate gremium (management of an organization / society / party for decision making. This step could be the begininning of Project Initiation stage. Will the "Project Initiative" be approved or rejected?

Sequential, task driven project management approaches (with series of planned or/and ad-hoc tasks) are NOT PROJECTING precisely what we want to achieve.

During my projects, I have experienced many times that project management concepts and terms were misinterpreted or misunderstood. Project Management (PM) terms such as PM Life Cycle, project lifecycle, goals, milestones, milestone plan, deliverables, scope, Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), tasks, activities were explained and interpreted in many ways. I guess, first thing is a common PM language and a common PM approach in any project. ❺PATHS™ gives an efficient, pragmatic and lifelike framework to start a project with common mindset and well-defined terms. 5-PATHS helps all stakeholders to follow the the natural way of the Project Management Life Cycle.

❺PATHS™ avoid using the "linear task management" concept and their techniques (e.g.: CPM). 5-PATHS methodology avoids using the term "WBS" also. These tools and techniques offer completely different project planning approaches to GDPM and 5-PATHS. Please note, that basically WBS does NOT incorporate the goal directed terms such as Milestones and Milestone Planning.

In my practice, once I had to somehow combine WBS with GDPM Milestones. In this situation WBS based planning was the first step, then milestones were created and linked to tasks derived from WBS "task" elements later.

Projects must NOT be about work efforts or "thousand lines" of tasks but should be about well-defined OUTCOMES / RESULTS in terms of deliverables that the project must provide. Maybe the best example when someone defines a meaningless, standalone task such as "Participate on a meeting". This task itself does not provide any added value. During this work effort (meeting) you can sleep or you can even text on your mobile. Then you register 2 hours to this task on your timesheet. What is the added value if there is NO Deliverable to provide or Milestone to achieve? Tasks must not be stand alone but must belong to deliverables and/or milestones.

Planning a ❺PATHS™ project is a so called "Back to the Future" process. Project your vision (future picture), identify high-level goals with the final milestone what you want to achieve at the end of the project. Then break your final milestone back to intermediate key-states and key-results and place them to the appropriate result path. (P.A.T.H.S.). You accomplish it during Milestone Planning Workshops specifying key deliverables of all milestones.

Do not forget the success driven rule of thumb: "WHAT" comes first, "HOW" comes later on... The work effort, the tasks / activities and resources required to create deliverables and achieve milestones come later during the project planning process (2. Inititation, 3. Planning).

Therefore, creating the Milestone Plan and defining a Deliverable Breakdown Structure is the key in the 5-PATHS project planning process.

Please note that a project is not a series of linear, meaningless tasks, but S.M.A.R.T. milestones and their deliverables on parallel result paths.

PM Methodologies vs. methods, tools & techniques

We can experience that there is a huge debate and confusion regarding Project Management methodologies vs. PM methods, tools & techniques.

We can face the fact that some Internet sources have absolutely stated that Waterfall (SW engineering method), Agile (SW development), Scrum (Agile technique), Kanban (just-in-time manufacturing), Extreme Programming - XP (SW development), Lean (waste minimization - Manufacturing), Six-Sigma (Process Improvement), Lean Six Sigma (combination of 6σ & Lean), Adaptive Project Framework - APF (refers to Poject Life Cycle only), Critical Path Method - CPM (algorithm for scheduling a set of LINEAR project activities) are all PM Methodologies (?).

Are they really PM Methodologies? For many people these are only tools & techniques and many of these tools mainly refer to Project Life Cycle (or only for operative work efforts). In addition, some of them refers only for software development or for linear task management from different point of view.

PM Methodologies are rather FRAMEWORKS with clearly defined PROJECT MANAGEMENT Life Cycle phases and PM Processes, with a unique strategic PM approach and philosophy, toolsets as well as known & proven techniques all together. Here some PM methodology / philosophy I've already met and/or used:

  • Goal Directed Project Management - GDPM (universal)
  • ❺PATHS™ (universal, GDPM based)
  • PwC PPM (enterprise)
  • PMI PMBOK (universal, WBS based)
  • NYSPM (New York State Project Management Guidebook - universal)
  • PRINCE2 (UK Government)
  • PRiSM (environmental)
  • MPMM (universal)
  • CCPM (3 phases, WBS, CPM)


5-PATHS™, ❺PATHS™ and ➄PATHS™ refer to the same project management methodology.


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