Complexity–based tools to complement project management methodologies: an interpretivist approach to project management implementation

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Olagbaiye, Bankole A. (2011)
  • Subject: H1

When projects fail, this is often because the social situation is more complex than anticipated. If project teams complement their methodologies by utilising tools designed to interpret complex situations at key points, these projects are more likely to succeed. This research investigates how to complement project management methodologies with complexity tools and techniques and to explain that when a project is implemented within a determinable system it may be possible to use known methodologies to plan and execute the project successfully based on success criteria of time, cost and scope. However, there are certain social situations that are known to be problematic for these methodologies and may need to utilise additional tools to implement the projects. The purpose of my research is to investigate how tools designed to understand complex situations can be used to develop more effective project management in such context.\ud \ud Throughout the examination of three in-depth case studies it was discovered that many projects are implemented using standard methodologies. Within the complex environment of hidden characters, emergent patterns and characteristics, interaction and interrelationships of various factors the projects were seen to have performed below expectation. By contrast, when tools and techniques for understanding organisational complexity were put to use, the projects highlighted important factors that were not initially considered, either during the inception of the project or at some milestone stages. These additional tools proved valuable in understanding and managing the interactions, interrelationships and emergent patterns that developed in the process. Understanding of archetypes and their extractions within and outside of Snowden's findings were also a valuable finding as Karl Jung invented the concept of archetype. The use of Jungian archetypes proved valuable in discovering hidden factors and identifying critical success factors that are not apparent in standard project management methodologies. Complexity theories and models that were considered are the Kauffmans NK Model, Boisot I-Space and the cynefin model. Once projects were identified in complex environments, it was seen that there was a need to use additional tools for their implementation. It was also identified that project failure can not only be categorised in terms of project scope, time and cost but definition of failure needs to be in reference to an overarching social system (also referred to as ecosystems), which the tools from complexity would aid projects in identifying as well as understanding.\ud \ud Employing some basic additional tasks and including research processes in project methodologies may make the difference between a project actualising its full potential or being delivered without meeting all the business requirements especially when requirements are emergent themselves.
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