Have I forgotten something? Project management, a critical thinking approach.
“it has generally been seen that there is no explicit theory of project management” Koskela & Howell (2002)
“it is either conceded that there is no theory of project management, or it reflects the opinion that the theoretical is not significant from the point of view of project management” Koskela & Howell (2002)
“Indeed it is the poverty of current theory that explains the other problems of project management, such as frequent project failures” Morris (1994)
Common cause of project failure Lack of client involvement Unrealistic timescales/budgets Requirements definitions Scope creep Change control Systems http://www.ogc.gov.uk/documents/cp0015.pdf http://www.zdnet.com/blog/projectfailures/uk-prison-it-massive-and-spectacular-failure/2353
“an explicit theory is the crucial single most important issue for the future of the Project management profession” Koskela & Howell (2002)
Is there a single Project Management theory? There are lots of theories in project Management Aggregate planning Theory of Constraints Costing theory Planning theory (CPM/CPA/PERT/GERT) Quality theory (TQM)
Maybe not, but there is a process Stages of a process Project Initiation Project Control Project Closure
Each stage has a number of steps Project initiation Step 01: Project Kick Off Step 02: Project Objective & Scope Step 03: Project Schedule and Budgeting Step 04: Stage Schedule and Budgeting Step 05: Project Organization Step 06: Project Control Procedures Step 07: Business Case Step 08: Project Initiation Stage Assessment
The next stage Project Control Step 01: Stage Kick Off Step 02: Project Board Meetings Step 03: Quality Control Step 04: Progress Control Step 05: Change Control Step 06: Issues Management Step 07: Exception Situation Step 08: Stage End Assessment
The final stage Project Closure Step 01: Final Product Evaluation Step 02: Project Completion Step 03: Process Improvement Each step further breaks down in the procedure
Lockyer & Gordon suggest 4 phases And there are even more complicated process models, 5, 6, 8 phases Conception Development Realisation Termination
Developing successful project management systems
Comments from the discussion forum Voltaire reminds us that; “Common sense is not that common”
What is the missing link? If there is no single theory of project management but there are a number of concepts and models which are used in the project management process, how do we pull them together to make coherent sense?
What is Critical Thinking? The likes of Plato, Socrates & Aristotle (350BC) thought it was about exploring concepts and theories as things weren’t all they appeared on the surface. There are lots of concepts and models in project management, does this suggest it is what we do with them that matters?
What is Critical Thinking? Dewey suggests it is the suspension of judgement and healthy scepticism Ennis is more of the opinion that it involves reflexive thinking, say things another way, rethink the outcomes Its about understand the elements of your decisions
Why do we need critical thinking? To help reduce project failures caused by; Assumptions Dependency Risk The way we do things – a mind set There are many other areas where we don’t think critically
Problems of thinking critically Time and pressure to complete a project; “Hands on” project managers Not having a helicopter I’m the project manager! Follow the process, no need to debate!
Think now and save time & cost Identifying difficulties and problems early The “what if” approach, scenario planning Developing options Being ready for the future No surprises (at least reduce them)
Critical Thinking approaches Borrowed from Six Sigma (Motorola 1986) Ask “Why” 5 times A way of reducing defects & improving quality Looks at the root cause of problems But is this enough?
More Critical Thinking approaches Borrowed from Rudyard Kipling (The Elephant’s child) “I keep six honest serving-men (They taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When And How and Where and Who” Perhaps provides a more critical approach
Critical thinkers do……. Ask pertinent questions Assess arguments for value and objectivity Have curiosity Like to find new solutions Define things clearly Examine their beliefs & assumptions Listen carefully and give feedback
Critical thinkers can….. Suspend judgement Look for evidence to support assumptions Adjust opinion Look for proof Examine problems closely Reject incorrect information Know critical thinking is a lifelong process
Critical thinking in project management Not a system, more a way of life A “cultural” change Consider all options, even those that don’t look viable on the surface Discovering what we didn’t know Make informed justifiable decisions
Had I forgotten anything? My conclusions; I don’t think so, it wasn’t there in the first place! Is critical thinking the missing theory? It will definitely improve the management of projects used in conjunction with the current tools and processes