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Emergent project structure IRNOP2013


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research conference presentation in project management

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Emergent project structure IRNOP2013

  1. 1. Emergent?
  2. 2. Structure becomes complex when it has a large number of parts, functions and relations and becomes more complex when these elements increase Do you agree?
  3. 3. Complex, not complicated exploring emergent project structure Maria Kapsali and Tomas Blomquist Umeå School of Business and Economics
  4. 4. Complicated systems Complex systems Structure is predetermined, relatively fixed and decomposable Structure is partially determined and partially self-organized Structure is determined by the number, functions and relations of parts and becomes complex when these elements increase Structure emerges from the local activities of a lower number of agents who follow simple rules Structural rules impose order on the project parts Few simple rules direct action, control emerges from feedback in activities An airplane A snowflake
  5. 5. Mistaken complicated with complex Complicated • The key presumption is that the structure of a complicated system is predetermined, relatively fixed and decomposable • Can identify all its parts and describe the whole system • Structure becomes more complicated by the number, function and relations of components and increases when these elements increase • Structure imposes order on the parts by the means of many detailed action rules monitoring the implementation of the design Complex • Parts cannot be analysed and described because they transform, emerge and disappear over time • A relatively lower number of parts which follow simple rules directing action • Structure emerges from the local activities of the parts and the feedback in activities rather than control practices
  6. 6. Our intention To examine how structure emerges from co-creation practices in a complex project The contribution • will straighten some of our misconceptions about complexity theoretical • will help us understand how structure emerges from activities theoretical • an exploratory study into how we can investigate complexity in organizational settings methodological • how organization manage complexity by accepting emerging structures practical
  7. 7. How? The method • Emergence comes from routines and it is very difficult to measure activity and structural combinations using standard stats • Use Qualitative Comparative Analysis that is configurational analysis • and process mapping A unique setting • An unconventional project that was designed from the start to allow activities to emerge rather than plan for them • Umeå European Capital of Culture 2014
  8. 8. The study: a unique experiment • The Umeå European Capital of Culture 2014 project has No detailed prescheduled activity or time plan • Embed co-creation practices into the organization of the project • The individuals who ‘produce’ the activities are also the ‘consumers’: the activities are co-created by the citizens themselves, individuals and organizations, who are accommodated into a structure of interaction platforms • Our purpose: examine its emerging structure by its activities • Data: Database of 265 activities, 71 hours of observations and interviews with political committee and project management team (Maj 2013)
  9. 9. Organization of Umeå2014 • The project has two levels of hierarchy • No standard operating procedures but a set of criteria for selecting and evaluating activities • None of these criteria is of a budgetary, scheduling or operational nature. They are rather used to assess the nature and quality of the activities and if they are suitable to serve the implementation of the project goals • 3 types of activities: seed, co-funded and independent – Every ’activity’ could be seen as a project – since it is about the realization of a singular cultural event e.g. an opera production
  10. 10. The method Qualitative Comparative Analysis: configurational set-theoretic analysis of multiple variables Therefore we need to find a method that will a) investigate the project as a system with two levels (level of the formulation of local activity and level of management activity) and b) explain the causal complexity between these two levels that creates the project structure In order to investigate both levels of analysis, 1. first we investigate patterns in bottom-up activity 2. second we analyse management processes and 3. third we analyse patterns in structural properties (Raymond et al., 1997) linked to the patterns in bottom-up and management activity 34 interviews/observations, project documents and database of 265 activities, project protocols (minutes) from committee meetings
  11. 11. The metrics: Activity criteria The criteria used to group activities and set by the project team according to the strategic goals of the political committee Empowerment goals Grow Citizens Culture/sports sector International relations Region/Trade and industry Urban growth Horizontal goals European Sustainability Equality Co-creation Diversity Innovative Accessibility
  12. 12. The metrics: Structural properties Structural properties Task or role specialization Vertical differentiation Definition of property Variables The subdivision of activities within organizations on the basis of positions 1. 2. Activity segmented on the basis of ranks, the number of hierarchical levels 1. 2. Measures Role specificity Number of titles Functional diversification (an ≥5 expansion in the range of activities for ≤5 each role) =0 Number of levels in the longest line No of levels Average number of levels ≥3 QCA Values 1 0.5 0 1 Activity segmented on the 1. basis of subunits, the number 2. of subdivisions or specialities 3. Decentralization The distribution of authority for making decisions 4. 5. Standardization Formalization Coverage and application of operating procedures, rules and regulations uniformly 1. 2. 3. Artistic-creative Business-Managerial-Marketing Political Delegation Delegation Delegation activities Delegation Delegation 1. 2. Activity specificity (decomposition) Surveillance enforcement rules, procedures, regulations 1. and communications are 2. written and filed personnel budget introduction/termination over scheduling over resources Rule formalization Rule – Procedures 0.5 =0 Horizontal differentiation ≤3 0 No of functions ≥5 1 ≤5 0.5 =0 Level of decision 0 Political panel 1 Project group 0.5 Activity owner 0 Rules per activity ≥5 ≤5 =0 formalization Highly formal 1 0.5 0 1 Medium 0.5 Informal 0
  13. 13. Lit review What we know and what we don’t
  14. 14. Previous studies say that • Structure is often not really a choice – Driven by the parent organization, client expectations or product specifications - usually a matrix – Create and recreate project structures around the needs of each product and customer • Project planning and monitoring methods are used to structure activities • Emergent activities create deviations from plans that is why they have to be controlled and contained • Structural complexity stems from the scale or scope of interconnected tasks and it is affected by goal uncertainty and stakeholder interaction
  15. 15. What we don’t know 1. Problematic definition about what is a complex project due to the misdirection towards complicated projects 2. The essential heuristics within action that create emergent structures understand the simple rules of emergent activities - the project’s causal complexity 3. Weaknesses in the studies conducted in project complexity so far relate to the epistemological transposition of complexity paradigms in project management systems models that lead to a hybridization of incompatible ideas – emergent social processes cannot be accurately measured because of their fluidity and informality and therefore they have not been directly correlated to structural properties – lack of ‘objective’ variables – confused with self-organization – difficulty of obtaining adequately large data sets of such nature in social science – factors in human activities are more diverse and more inconsistent
  16. 16. Findings New emergent configurations of project activities and the shaping of structural properties
  17. 17. The process Collate Media Database Marketing Seed track 1 Activity owner Dialogue Project Office Sort Evaluate Decide to fund Advice and provide Feedback Activity owner Collate Activity owner ck Project Office Decide to apply for cofunding/decide to include in final program 2 Advice to include ac Tr Independent track 3 Sum Apply through website Tr a Dialogue Check k1 Trac Co-funded track 2 Activity owner report Evaluate Feedback Monitor through dialogue Advice and provide Activity owner reports Political committee k3 Check Evaluate Decide to include Feedback Advice and provide Activity owner reports Project Office Schedulling the program Media
  18. 18. Emergent activities grouped into clusters according to the activity criteria Project Office Schedulling the program medborgare*kulturidrottsse*nytankande medborgare*kulturidrottsse*europe isk*hallbarhet 3 9 2 4 1 10 medskapande 11 mangfald 5 6 8 medborgare*medskapande 7 medborgare*kulturidrottsse *nytankande*medskapande *mangfald 17 medborgare*medska pande 12 medborgare*hallba rhet*medskapande 13 16 15 The grape-like structure of project activities, emerging from the utilization of quality criteria for selection and assessment 14 hallbarhet mangfald
  19. 19. Patterns in structural properties artistic-creative*~political*business consistency coverage 1 0.5 delegation over*delegation over 1 1.000000 combined 0.5 0.994987 rules and procedures*surveillance enforcement rules and procedures surveillance enforcement 1 0.666667 0.812404 1 1 0.500000 0.5 0.703562 0.703562 The most significant structural measures and their combinations horizontal differentiation*decentralization vertical differentiation*decentralization horizontal differentiation consistency coverage 1 0.5 combined 0.703562 1 0.500000 0.703562 1 0.500000 0.703562 Three structural variables are equally significant
  20. 20. The emergent structure Independent Role specialization 1 Formalization 0.5 Vertical differentiation All 0 Horizontal differentiation Standardization Role specialization 1 Decentralization Co-funded Formalization 0.5 Role specialization 1 Formalization 0.5 Vertical differentiation Vertical differentiation 0 0 Horizontal differentiation Standardization Horizontal differentiation Standardization Decentralization Decentralization Seed funded Role specialization 1 Formalization 0.5 Vertical differentiation 0 Horizontal differentiation Standardization Decentralization
  21. 21. Conclusions Role specialization Formalization Vertical differentiation Horizontal differentiation Standardization Decentralization The structure of a snowflake emerges via rules The project structure of Umeå 2014 emerges via a few heuristic rules (activity criteria)
  22. 22. Conclusions Initial intentions Contributions Straighten misconceptions about complex and complicated Understand how structure can emerge, not only be designed theoretical Understand how structure emerges from activities Activities and processes affect the formations of structural properties theoretical Exploratory study into how we can investigate complexity in project settings Tested the use of Qualitative Comparative Analysis methodological How projects manage complexity by accepting emerging structures • Questions the traditional perceptions of power and authority that project teams are used to • Co-creation practices change the traditional way of planning and control • QCA helps to analyze project portfolios practical
  23. 23. Conclusion: How is emergent structure shaped by local activities? By two things: a set of simple heuristic rules and standardized but simple processes • Local activities rely on heuristics (such as the activity criteria in this case). Heuristic simple rules direct towards action, they are prominent in both the processes of informal feedback and in formal control and are not ‘objective’ measurement. – Simple rules guide local action and incentivize it to form into groups that eventually will determine which managerial activities and structural properties are effective. • Control used as critical minimum specifications is but a small part of ‘calibrating’ the activities towards the right direction and not about punishing through imposing penalties for lack of conforming. • Therefore the emergent structure has minimum levels of control and activity planning and is partially a product of self-organization by muddling through. Not completely organic: it has strong elements of vertical differentiation, it is not completely flat and decentralization is not used in a random manner but rather in pre-specified points in the process and it is always followed by consultation. • A semi-organic structure where top down design elements such as work specialization, formalization, standardization, decentralization and differentiation are changed according to the structural configuration of activities
  24. 24. Conclusion • Future research should focus on emergence to analyse structures in complex projects • A complex project is a social ‘organism’, which despite of its small or large size and number of relations, its behaviour is emergent from the interplay of diverse local processes and can only partially be governed through a small set of identifiable simple rules which direct its emergent behaviour. It is imperative in such a system not to rely on mapping all the stakeholders and all the interactions; it is rather more important to understand the simple rules of emergent activities - the project’s causal complexity. This is the only way we can identify the actual boundary demarcations in a complex project. Any Questions?