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Terry.cooke davies

  1. 1. Complexity, Systems and Project Management: Reconnecting PM to its Living Roots. Dr Terry Cooke-Davies Executive Chairman Human Systems InternationalUsed with Permission © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved 1
  2. 2. Today’s Presentation Viewing PM PM’s birth in Implications & thru complexity systems conclusions theory Complexity Complexity &theory’s birth in PM systems Evolution of Evolution of artificial PM systems © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved 2
  3. 3. Project Management Was Born In A World Of Systems Atlas Program: 1954. Under leadership of General B. A. Schriever implemented management system to oversee and manage the development of the complete missile system. Specified concepts fundamental to all future project management.Cleland and King’s 1968 Classic made thelink explicit between the system (or product)being developed and the (management)system for controlling its development. Polaris Program: 1956/57. Under Admiral Raborn, the program developed Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) – one of the two sources (with Critical Path Method) of modern Critical Path Analysis. Reserved © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights 3
  4. 4. General Systems Theory Promised Much... … 1. Frameworks Anatomy of universe, patterns of electrons in atom etc. 2. Clockworks Solar system, simple machines, railway locomotives etc. 3. Thermostats Control Mechanisms or Cybernetic Systems 4. Cells Open systems or self-maintaining structures. 5. Plants Differentiated and mutually dependent parts (roots, leaves, seeds, etc.); genotype and phenotype. 6. Animals Increased mobility, teleological behavior and self-awareness. 7. Human Beings As (6) + self-consciousness. 8. Social Organizations Families, tribes, businesses, political systems etc. 9. Trascendental Systems The ultimates and absolutes and the inescapable unknowables.Kenneth Boulding (1956) General Systems Theory: The Skeleton of Science. © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved 4
  5. 5. …But Theory And Practice Followed 3 Very Different Trajectories General Complex Systems Through Chaos to Complexity and… Adaptive Theory Systems Through Management Science & OR “Soft” Systems Cybernetics to… ThinkingAligned duringthe 1950s and 1960s Project Current PM Through Process & Credentials to … Management Practice © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved 5
  6. 6. Different Types of System A Systems Map of the Universe:Adapted from Checkland P (1981). Systems Thinking, Systems Practice. Wiley, Chichester © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved 6
  7. 7. Natural Systems Have Been Studied In Numerous Contexts in Different Branches of Science … … …Source: René Doursat: LSE Seminar 26th June 2009 © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved 7
  8. 8. Insights Relevant to PM. Non-Linearity • Sensitive dependence on original conditions (Lorenz 1961) • Catastrophe theory, Chaos theory, non-linear mathematics Emergence • Flows through many strands of chaos and complexity theories. • Evolution leads to novelty Evolution Leads to Increasing Complexity • Higher organisms more complex than lower ones. • Different environments support different adaptations – Co-opetition Radical Uncertainty • Prigogine and “dissipative structures” (Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1977) • Open systems: non-linear, dynamic, self-transformingSource: Cooke-Davies et al (2007) “You’re not in KansasAnymore, Toto”. Project Management Journal © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved 8
  9. 9. Forty Years of Growth 302,167300,000 • Members in 171 countries250,000 • 250+ chapters • 30 SIGs, two colleges200,000150,000 100,000 (2002)100,000 50,000 17,059 1,000 5,272 0 1975 1985 1995 2005 9
  10. 10. Proliferation of Standards 10 © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved 10
  11. 11. Emphasis is Linear, Rational,Deterministic… … …Figure 3-1. Links Among Process Groups in a Phase Initiating Planning Processes Processes Figure 5-3. Sample Work Breakdown Structure Organized by Phase Controlling Executing Processes Processes Software Product Release 5.0 Project Product Detail Integration(Arrows represent Closing Construction Management Requirements Design and Testflow of documents Processesand documentableitems Planning Software Software Software Software User User User User Meetings Documentation Figure 6-2.Documentation Logic Diagram Using the Precedence Diagramming Method Network Documentation Documentation Training Program Training Program Training Program Training Program Administration Materials Materials A Materials BMaterials C This WBS is illustrative only. It is not intended to represent the full project scope of any specific project, nor to imply that this is the only way to organize a WBS on this type of project Start Finish A B C © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved 11
  12. 12. … … At The Expense ofPeople. © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved 12
  13. 13. Diverse Developments inManagement Systems Jay Forrester and others have been developing System Dynamics since the 1960s, and it was popularised by Peter Senge in the 5th Discipline in the 1990s Cybernetics and Operations Research has given rise to concepts such as Stafford Beer’s “Viable Systems Model”, and similar concepts employed in Problematical situation Systems Engineering. (messy & complex) 2 1 Models of purposeful activity (modelling to learn) 3 Structured discussion Peter Checkland and othersAction to improve (questions based on the models) have been developing Soft (not solutions) Find accommodations Systems Methodology since the 4 (not consensus) 1970s. © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved 13
  14. 14. There Have Been Interesting Studies Relating “Hard” to “Soft” Approaches …… Both in terms of the relationships between the two perspectives … … INCISM: Interdisciplinary Research Network into Complimentarity in Systems Modelling. … … and in terms of the underpinning philosophical positions.Source of both diagrams: Michael Pidd (2004) SystemsModelling: Theory and Practice. London. John Wiley & Son. © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved 14
  15. 15. … And Each Has its Uses …… … … depending upon the circumstances in which it is used … … … … and its purpose at the time. Source of both diagrams: Michael Pidd (2004) Systems Modelling: Theory and Practice.1987-2009 John Wiley & Son. © Human Systems International London. All Rights Reserved 15
  16. 16. “Complexity” Enters PM Literature, e.g. Differs from • Implies “Woven together” - Interdependence • Are “complex projects” a different “kind”?“Complicated” • This matters – Hacking’s “interactive kinds” • Structural uncertainty (number and relation of elements etc.)Williams (1999) • Uncertainty (goals, methods) • Technical uncertaintyShenhar (2001) • Array of people involved in decision-making • Dynamical systems complexityHancock (2004) • Behavioural complexityCicmil (2005 to • Social and behavioural complexity • Decision-making with differing interests, cultures, knowledge 2009) © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved 16
  17. 17. Categorizing for Complexity Attribute Count % 1 Project scope 45 16.0% 2 Technical complexity 39 13.8% 3 Number of functions and skills 30 10.6% 4 Organisational involvement 30 10.6% 5 Level of ambiguity / uncertainty 27 9.6% 6 Number of sites, locations, countries 26 9.2% 7 Organisational impact 24 8.5% 8 Clarity of goals / objectives 22 7.8% 9 Risk source and location 15 5.3%10 Familiarity 13 4.6%11 Standalone or component of larger project 11 3.9% N= 282 100.0% Crawford, Hobbs & Turner, 2005 © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved 17
  18. 18. Management complexity (GAPPS) Stability of the overall project context Number of distinct disciplines, methods, or approaches involved Magnitude of legal, social, or environmental implications Overall expected financial impact on project stakeholders Strategic importance of the project to the organisation or organisations involved Number and variety of interfaces between the project and other organisational entities For report on application of this categorization across projects globally, seeAitken, A. and Crawford, L.H. (2007) A study of project categorisation based on project managementcomplexity. In: Proceedings of IRNOP VIII Conference, University of Sussex ,19-21 September 2007, Brighton, UK: University of Sussex © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved 18
  19. 19. Arguably all projects are complex …if people are involved “Consider what happens in an organisation when a rumour of reorganisation surfaces: the complex human system starts to mutate and change in unknowable ways; new patterns form in anticipation of the event. On the other hand, if you walk up to an aircraft with a box of tools in your hand, nothing changes” Snowdon, 2002 © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved 19
  20. 20. Viewing project management practice through a “complexity theory” lens Multiple participants in 30+ projects USA, UK, Australia, Finland Engineering, construction, IT & pharmaceutical R&D Interested in illuminating: How project participants (PMs, team members, senior executives/sponsors; other stakeholders) perceive and experience ‘complexity’: unpredictability, power relations, ambiguity and change of plans over time, risk,. How is ‘project control’ enacted in practice? And what are the challenges? How do project practitioners understand planning in an indeterminate world? What is their experience with achieving a shared understanding of the project goal within a project coalition? What kind of ambiguity and equivocality practitioners face regarding criteria for qualifying projects as success or failure, and how do they cope with it? What do they do when they find themselves not being in control of projects? What are their experiences with integrating the project team: communication, cooperation, confidence and learning among project parties over the project’s life time?Svetlana Cicmil et. al (2009) Exploring the Complexity of Projects: Implications of Complexity Theory for Project Management Practice. Project Management Institute.. © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved 20
  21. 21. Goals are equivocal, with multiple agendas. “Did (the company) achieve a positive financial outcome? Yes. Was it was what they’d originally thought? No. Did the customer achieve their outcomes? Yes. Was it in the timeframe they’d hoped for? No. Overall the project will have been a success. It will probably cost a little more than it should have and probably taken a little more than it should.’ [PS-02: Project Sponsor] There are gaps between what we communicated and the customer expectations. Although I find you can always cover more in the scope, in pre-sales, there are many implicit requirements and commitments that don’t necessarily get communicated in the scope documentation. This is where trust between companies comes in. There is not always enough time to clarify gaps, so the gaps stay there. Sometimes you never need to address those grey areas, but sometimes you do and if necessary you go into escalation. If we promise something and don’t deliver, everyone suffers. Expectations versus what is in writing is a problem. [PS – 01: Project manager]Svetlana Cicmil et. al (2009) Exploring the Complexity of Projects: Implications of Complexity Theory for Project Management Practice. Project Management Institute.. © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved 21
  22. 22. Conversations take place with multiple agencies against a background of uncertainty I know I cannot be in total control [of the project] and I have to renegotiate the original plan on a regular basis…being in charge of a project is not about control it is about how you engage with senior executives to shift the power relations through conversations … you want to use your CPM diagram and Gantt, to make your argument factual, believable, grounded in some, to them, distant but convincing project management technique…to trigger their confidence that you know what you are doing… [RR-BB-2] Most people knew that this project was growing, some of the people from distribution began to understand the significance of this project. So it’s real hard to point to any one moment when somehow a light went off. If things happened, it’s a growing body of evidence, and growing insight and understanding that builds up to this, at these critical moments that you decide you need to do something. At that point a decision was made that we needed to do a [fundamental review of the project]. [PS – 31: Project sponsor]Svetlana Cicmil et. al (2009) Exploring the Complexity of Projects: Implications of Complexity Theory for Project Management Practice. Project Management Institute.. © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved 22
  23. 23. Progress is maintained in the face of radical uncertainty & the anxiety that it creates Everything evolves around the paradox of the golden project triangle: in time, to cost and with agreed quality or spec– if you ignore the paradox by setting up a tool-based control model, you get trapped in the iron cage of promises, unmanaged expectations, contractual clauses…80% of my time as PM I spend figuring out, negotiating, persuading, or prioritizing multiple agendas and interests against KPIs [key performance indicators] and 20% fire-fighting …managing change to plans on the ground…that is project management for you. [RR-AB-2] It’s one of those things that from the beginning was going to be an almost impossible project because of the resources and timeframe and what needed to be done. [PS-23: Project manager] You never know about the successes before the work is done, it’s then when you see it. But, when a schedule starts clicking, it depends a lot on who is eventually doing the work. It’s always cooperation. No matter how perfect you try to make, if you really look for problems you will always find something. Of course, you could always find excuses:” I haven’t got the right information”, but as much as possible we, on this project, try to stick to the schedule that has been agreed together, we won’t be throwing stones at some other party.[NH-1-IK, leader of electrical works]Svetlana Cicmil et. al (2009) Exploring the Complexity of Projects: Implications of Complexity Theory for Project Management Practice. Project Management Institute.. © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved 23
  24. 24. Conclusions From The Study Projects involve patterned conversation and power relating between people – tools help to form the conversations and relationships. Project work can be seen as self-organizing capacity emerging from these complex processes. Power is located in the processes of conversing and relating, rather than in any one individual. People experience feelings aroused by these processes, and how they deal with these under conditions of uncertainty will vary from person to person and culture to culture. Complexity is unavoidable. Transformation and novelty are possible because of the intrinsic diversity of the people interacting on projects. The effective Project Manager is a participant in these processes of relating, continuously engaged in emergent enquiry into what they are doing and what steps they should take next and reflexive in thinking about the quality of their own participation in complex processes of relating in their local project situation. A Project Manager cannot stand outside organizational processes and control them or direct them in an intentionally chosen direction.Svetlana Cicmil et. al (2009) Exploring the Complexity of Projects: Implications of Complexity Theory for Project Management Practice. Project Management Institute.. © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved 24
  25. 25. People Are ThemselvesComplex Systems… … Weighs ~2% of body weight, yet uses 25% to 40% of energy. Limits energy usage utilising habit and reflex. Is itself a source of complexity: 1 signal at periphery could become 100,000 impulses at centre. © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved 25
  26. 26. PARALLEL-CONVERGENT-DIVERGENT CIRCUITRY OFMAJOR FUNCTIONAL BUILDING BLOCKS OF THE BRAIN Source: Gerhard Roth: Brain Research Unit: University of Bremen HIERARCHICAL-HETERARCHICAL ORGANIZATION © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved 26
  27. 27. … … Prone to Optimism Biasand StrategicMisrepresentation … …At PMI Research Conference in Montreal, Flyvbjerg identified 3 causes of risk Technical: Inadequate data and models Psychological: Optimism bias Political-economic: Strategic misrepresentation, rent-seeking behavior, misaligned incentivesHe Quoted Kahneman & Tversky’s Nobel Prize Winning “Prospect Theory” People underestimate costs, completion times, and risks of planned actions People overestimate the benefits of the same actions Underestimation + overestimation = planning fallacy = optimism biasHe contrasted the “Inside view” focusing on the constituents of the specific planned action, seeing this action as unique, with The “Outside view” focusing on the outcomes of similar actions that have already been completed And advocated “Reference Class Forecasting”, which removes both optimism bias and strategic misrepresentation. © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved 27
  28. 28. … Among Many Irrationalities. (Design Limitations of HOS?) Self-serving Bias: The tendency to take the Hindsight Bias: The tendency to credit for success, and blame external retrospectively overestimate the probability factors for failure. of past events occurring. Self-centred Bias: The tendency for an Self-righteous Bias: The tendency to individual contributor to take a regard oneself as having higher moral disproportionate amount of credit for the standards or greater moral consistency than outcome of group effort. others have. Egocentricity Bias: The tendency to In-group/out-group Bias: The tendency to exaggerate the importance of one’s role in view members of the group to which one past events. belongs in a more positive light than members of groups of which one is not a False Consensus Effect: The tendency to member. believe that most people share one’s opinions and values. Base-rate Fallacy: The tendency to neglect population characteristics and prior Assumption of Uniqueness: The tendency probabilities when making probabilistic to overestimate one’s uniqueness. inferences. Illusion of Control: The tendency to Conjunction Fallacy: The tendency to exaggerate the degree of one’s control over regard the conjunction of two events as more external events. probable than either of them occurring singly.David Livingstone Smith (2004) “Why weLie” New York. St. Martin’s Griffin. © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved 28
  29. 29. From SSM and Vickers, Thereis the Idea of a “Flux ofEvents”.Twin strands of “ideas” and “events”.– Mutually interlinked.Management interventions aimed at “improving the situation” (NOT solving theproblem)Concept reflected in “Rethinking Project Management” Programme funded byEPSRC from 2004Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved to 2006. (See IJPM Special Issue, November 2007) © 29
  30. 30. Reconnecting PM to ItsLiving Roots.PM was born in the world of systems of the 1950s and 1960s.Since then, the worlds of systems in the natural sciences (andartifical sciences), as well as in management has moved ontheoretically and developed many new insights andunderstandings.Project management has followed a different trajectory, and facessignificant problems of credibility when dealing with complexity.Empirical results from applying the new insights to project andprogramme management have suggested alternative approachesto that followed by “mainstream” project management.Is it not time to reconnect project management to its living roots inthe current understanding of complex systems? © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved 30
  31. 31. Thank You forListeningterry.cooke-davies@humansystems.net © Human Systems International 1987-2009 All Rights Reserved 31