Last week we discussed the second part of Terry Cooke-Davies' book Aspects of Complexity Part 2 – With Researchers and Students in Mind. This week we're going to put our Researchers hat on and will think about the last two criterion of the essay assignment: -
In the second part of the essay you need to think of project cases as examples that allow you to expand on, what you thought about last week, regarding the theories and ideas, causes, environment, properties, tools and techniques of complex projects. For example, we have used the BP Deepwater Horizon accident and catastrophe as an illustration of a complex project. There have been hundreds of thousands of words written about this accident, but fundamentally what might have been a dangerous project was made into a complex project by the way that BP and it's contractors treated the project. Let me expand on this thought for you: -
The fundamental concept of project management means that an organisation must be thinking and organising as a system. If not then project management doesn't work because there is no structure and the players in the organisation will move the goal posts and do other things. The same premise is true of the structure in the organisation, for example rigid hierarchies will constrain project management because people will have a responsibility upwards and not to the needs of the project. The culture of an organisation has a lot to do with encouraging or discouraging this. A sloppy, careless, and impatient culture will mean that people get away with things and don't work within the constraints of the system. Obviously in a project managing risk is axiomatic, but being serious about risk is a different dimension of risk management. Think what BP did or didn't do with Deepwater Horizon? They (and their contractors) were not serious about the risks. Had they applied rigorous engineering principles to the risk of moving the rig then all manner of alarm bells would have rung! However, taking an engineering approach to risk means using templates, probability models, formulas, and simulation. This means being serious about risk management, but because of the overruns associated with the project this was not what BP wanted, and so what was a dangerous project became a complex project. In the chapters 2 to 7 of Terry Cooke-Davies book you'll find lots of elements that then describe what constitutes complex projects that can be applied to DB Deepwater Horizon.
BP Deepwater Horizon is only one example. What other ones have you seen in the PPMP units? Also, what other text books, journals, standards, and so on have you read that might help you think and explain complex projects?
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