Complexity Framework for the Project Management Curriculum

Complexity Framework for the Project Management Curriculum

Simon Cleveland, Cristelia Hinojosa
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-5345-9.ch019
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Universities' core project management courses address the key principles and best practices of project management methodologies, while elective courses are utilized to introduce alternative project frameworks. The concept of project complexity can be taught to strengthen competency in project managers and enhance the success of the projects they manage. Previous instruction methods were evaluated to determine the key concepts that pertain to project complexity. This article proposes a preliminary framework for the development of an elective course on project complexity.
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Concepts And Sources Of Complexity

Organizational Complexity

According to Cooke-Davies, Cicmil, Crawford and Richardson (2007), complexity theory can be defined as “the study of how order, structure, pattern, and novelty arise form extremely complicated, apparently chaotic systems and conversely, how complex behavior and structure emerges from simple underlying rules.” (p. 52). Complexity theory provides an understanding of complex systems and how they are related to organizations. This theory recognizes that there are specific but shared order and behavior among systems, and it rationalizes how separate elements of a system interact with and impact one another (Battram, 1998). An examination of this theory reveals differences between simple and complex systems and allows an organization to determine if they are prepared to handle these complexities.

There are key competencies that organizations must develop to address complexity factors. PMI identified that leadership requires the provision of active executive sponsorship and commitment. It also involves empowering the program and project managers with the support to facilitate successful delivery of results. Leadership involves awareness of early warning signs of problems and the enactment of action plans to address potential dangers. Portfolio management is a critical driver for navigating complexity. It requires organizations to elevate portfolio management practices to a strategic level to understand and support the portfolio management practice. It also requires the establishment of a portfolio minded culture where senior management should demonstrate support for the portfolio management by communicating effectively and investing in dedicated resources and proper training. Finally, senior management must leverage formal portfolio tools and practices to standardize the portfolio management practices.

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