ICCPM Connect Banner

September 2014

CEO message

It has been a very busy couple of months for our small team. You may have seen the announcement in early August from the Chair of our Board confirming my appointment as the permanent Managing Director and CEO. As I said when appointed to the acting position I am very honoured to be given the leadership and responsibility of continuing the great work of ICCPM.

We have now completed a full review of ICCPM’s operations and have developed a revised strategy that refocusses our efforts on doing CPM specific things and doing them very well. We will refocus on delivering on our promise to our partners and members now and always.  The Strategic Overview is available for you to peruse and I am more than happy to receive your thoughts, opinions, and ideas regarding where we are heading and how we might achieve our objectives. We value any feedback and will always take it on board.

I am very pleased to report the continued commitment to an ongoing relationship with our partners the Defence Material Organisation, Lockheed Martin Corporation and Airservices Australia have all renewed for another year. I would also like to welcome ASC Pty Ltd back into the ICCPM Partner Network. I thank you sincerely for your support and I look forward to working together for the upcoming year.

We provided an overview of our education strategy in the June newsletter, I am very pleased to report that we are now well advanced in the development and preparation of our application for the accreditation of our proposed Certificate IV in Complexity Management. We will be in a position to submit the application for assessment by the end of this calendar year. Once that is complete we will embark on the journey of RTO registration. The next very exciting step on our education development and delivery pathway is the delivery of our first unit Complexity - The Core.

CPM Opinion Column - What is Complex Project Management?

Welcome to our very first complex project management opinion column. This will be a regular series with contributions from a panel of experts discussing their personal views and opinions on complex project management, reproduced and displayed side by side for readers to compare, learn and grow in the field of CPM. If you have any comments or responses to this column, please send them through.  If you wish to be involved and write a response to an upcoming question, please contact either Deborah Hein or Kate Hubbard for more information.

Thank you to our expert contributors for this inaugural column Jeff WorleyMaree WeirTerry WilliamsSimon Henley, and [name deleted on request] for providing their personal views and experiences on the topic. 

Jeff Worley, Fellow of ICCPM, former VP of The Boeing Company

We must always remember that projects that are hard are not necessarily complex.  It is my belief that there are four elements to project complexity.  First: technical complexity, second: cost complexity, third: schedule complexity, fourth: political complexity.

Jeff worked for both Rockwell International and The Boeing Company and retired in 2012 as Senior Executive Vice President after 36 years of service.

Terry Williams, Dean of Hull University Business School

You know you are in a Complex Project when your actions as a manager have effects that are difficult to predict, or unexpected.

Terry is Dean of Hull University Business School, with experience in project management in both the public and private sector.  His research interests lie in modelling project behaviour.

Simon Henley, Fellow and Deputy Chair of ICCPM, former Director Service Strategy for Rolls Royce

The key to recognising complexity is to analyse it. The key to managing complexity is to understand where the complexity originates, and ensure that a strategy is put in place up front to manage each element of complexity identified by the analysis.

Simon is experienced at delivering very complex national-critical projects in an international environment, working across government, research and industry including the TP400 Turboprop Engine for the Airbus Military A400M Airlifter most recently.

Maree Weir, Director WHS in Contracts Change Program (DMO), EMCPM Graduate

Life was once so simple when you constructed large, tangible objects, with your own two hands, for a single customer. A customer who handed you money for a job well done, who then told others; who in turn handed you more money for more jobs well done.  But that was the past, and this is now.

Maree is a graduate of the Exec Masters in Complex Project Management and is currently Chair of the Defence Reconciliation Action Plan (DRAP) Working Group.


What is Complex Project Management?


Having worked and led several projects I would consider complex, it is my belief that there are four elements to project complexity.

First: technical complexity, second: cost complexity, third: schedule complexity, fourth: political complexity.

We must always remember that projects that are hard are not necessarily complex. Most “hard” projects are ones that are in trouble, usually caused by cost, schedule or performance issues which require an unending amount of re-programming forcing constant schedule changes, personnel changes and cost containment measures. Hard, but not complex by their nature.

Technical: there are many reasons the technical content of a program can cause complexity, such as technology, significant systems engineering, large complex software development, multiple integrated interfaces and interfacing with multiple complementary projects, programs, systems and users. Technologies which are not yet completely developed and require more iteration and development before reaching required TRL levels, require close attention. They also require alternate approaches if the technology stalls in development. The other complexities referenced above are self-evident. Hopefully I can address these topics at a later date.

Cost: money is always a complexity. From not having enough to achieve desired requirements to how the money is phased (timing) to the project. Probably the most complex is getting it. Usually it is in the hands of politicians (I will discuss this later) which have differing views of projects for a variety of reasons. As it relates to complex development projects the contract negotiation process almost always eliminates contingencies money for failure during the test and development phase. This also creates re-programming or reducing critical requirements resulting in a sub-optimized product.

Schedule: time is always the enemy because time is money and money is always tight. Technologies or difficult engineering tasks that lay in the critical path also complicate schedule because of the risks associated with them. Many projects cannot move from one phase to next without these critical path tasks completed. This leads to schedule risks and requires complex master program plans and master schedules, work breakdown structures and detailed integrated schedules that connect all the required interfaces.

Politics: this has layered complexity. Usually you must deal with federal, state and local governments. This element entails ideology, political parties, money, priorities, environment and public need. This requires a detailed political plan which constantly requires personally touching and communicating with politicians and maintaining a public campaign highlighting the goodness of the project. The campaigns should focus on the public’s interests such as national defense, scientific achievement, public utility and jobs. Keeping the project “sold” is a large and complex component of program management.

All four of these topics produce unending variables. As most of you know variability is normally the cause for project problems and keeps the risk baseline in flux. Detailed project plans, having the right skill mix, knowing how to take risks without compromising the project are critical. Constantly simplifying and detailed project performance evaluation allows for program management agility when dealing with uncertainty. There are many more elements I could share but will have to be at a later date.

Remember as you manage complex projects, have bias for action, simplify the processes and keep attention on the details.

Many academics will discuss things like “project eco-systems” but the bottom line is understand the outcome, plan the work, work the plan, be agile, take action, take measured risks and make decisions. These attributes will lead to success.

You know you are in a Complex Project when your actions as a manager have effects that are difficult to predict, or unexpected. A project becomes particularly complex when it combines three effects: it is very complicated (lots of parts and lots of interconnections), it is highly uncertain (so there are likely to be many changes or disruptions) and it is heavily time-constrained (so there is no time to sit back and re-plan sensibly – disruptions need working-around immediately). In such systems, to use Herbert Simon’s words, “the whole is more than the sum of the parts, not in an ultimate, metaphysical sense but in the important pragmatic sense that, given the properties of the parts and the laws of interaction, it is not a trivial matter to infer the properties of the whole.”

Effects come together so that it is difficult to see how root causes and outcomes relate, and it is difficult to disentangle all the different aspects in the final outcome – projects will often simply grow in cost and time and it is difficult to see why. In such projects, you need think carefully and analytically about how individual causes bring about effects, about how causal chains build up (often including human “soft” effects as well as easily-measured “hard” effects), about how different effects and chains of effects combine, and particularly how positive feedback (or “vicious circles”) build up so that the project snowballs away. This gives you a different view on the dangers of acceleration in projects, analysing clusters of risks, which risks are most important, the dangers of under-estimation, learning from projects and project narratives, the nature of project leadership and so on.

For me the simplest way to describe how to recognise complexity in a project or programme is to attempt to write the Work Breakdown (WBS) structure showing exactly what tasks are required to deliver the agreed requirement, and then to define the dependencies between each of the work packages. The project has elements of complexity if any of these statements is true:

  1. The requirement is not fully defined in objectively measurable terms, or is open to interpretation by one or more stakeholders as to how it can be demonstrated to have been met.

  2. The requirement is likely to be politically contested or politically sensitive at some stage in the project or programme.

  3. If any of the WBS boxes cannot be fully defined as a package of work with a beginning, an end, and a means of demonstrating completion.

  4. The dependencies between the WBS boxes are likely to change during the projects execution.

  5. One or more elements of the WBS is dependent on a technology which has yet to demonstrate the maturity needed for this particular application, or on a development which is separately managed from the project in question.

There are probably other tests of complexity, but the above covers complexity introduced by immature technology, by technology changing faster than the pace of the project, by a collaborative or politically charged environment, by externally imposed change, or by a project which absolutely must be started now (it won’t get any easier by prevarication), but at the outset the exact solution cannot be defined other than in terms of the effect that it is intended to deliver.

For a complex project to succeed, each of those elements needs a strategy to decide how they are going to be dealt with. To take just one element of complexity as an example, if the project is collaborative then there needs to be a significant investment in the early stages to decide “what good looks like” for each partner in the collaboration, and how disputes between partners as to the best way ahead will be dealt with when difficulties arise. It is absolutely certain that at some stage a decision will be required which will look better to one partner than the others. That is not the time to try and work out the resolution process – far better to sit down when all is going well and discuss rationally how to resolve issues, than to try and do it in an emotionally charged environment, when timely decision making is probably crucial to maintaining project momentum.

So to me the key to recognising complexity is to analyse it as above, and the key to managing it is to understand where the complexity originates, and ensure that a strategy is put in place up front to manage each element of complexity identified by the analysis.



You’re up working early, though it’s a Saturday morning – because it is Friday where your support crew are.

Briefly you wonder how you got here – on a Saturday that’s a Friday (where it matters right now). Hoping you can get the code you need in the next two hours, so you can work through Sunday to be ready Monday – when it really matters for the future. Why wonder? Because life was once so simple when you constructed large, tangible objects, with your own two hands, for a single customer. A customer who handed you money for a job well done; who then told others; who in turn handed you more money for more jobs well done. When it was simple, you woke up knowing exactly what was happening that day.

But that was the past, and this is now. You rub the sleep out of your eyes and look to the future – where those with the power aren’t supposed to work their weekends. That’s not supported under a contract between you; developed in accordance with ‘Standard Operating Procedure’ taking into account someone else’s ‘Normal Operating Hours’, aligned to ‘Procurement Instructions’ and within ‘Financial Constraints’. But what’s the hurry, surely a couple of days won’t hurt? Yes, it will.

Immediately: records aren’t exchanged, people are shut out of systems, and delays are felt in other schedules. All with ‘no’ consequences – no pay; no ability to legally do a job; no training for deployment into conflict zones.

Mid-term: this ‘baby’ is experimental – the last-born runt in the litter. Big brother is already walking, talking, growing tentacles and another couple of heads. He is fully embedded, accepted, and funded. In contrast, you had 23 ‘users’ flagged red in your system when it went down, all with ‘issues’ that a new code will unlock. Why red? Because they are your many key customers – those who can feed this undernourished infant, cheer it on; keep it from falling over when it starts to walk; protect it from its rougher siblings; and, speak for it before it can talk itself. Red users need to be kept happy or there is no...

Long-term: you know this is the growth your organisation needs, despite the interest ebbs and flows of personalities at the top, and pressure from competing priorities. It can’t risk failure here, because this is a future-child, connecting fragmented pieces of a capability puzzle. Pieces that include systems and people on ships and in other countries; in planes and deep in the bush. Those who protect your country and its national interests.

So what do you do? What, when you had a single customer, you once would not have done, for fear of blowing out your scope, schedule and budget. You actively engage with more people, not less. Searching for those critical ‘hubs’ at all levels and in organisations near and far – the ones who each individually open many doors, and windows – minds and purses.

On this day, one of those is someone – not even a technician – who will work their Saturday. Because they know that everything is connected, and what goes around comes around. So yet again one of the best days emerges unanticipated from one of the darkest nights. And on this day, complex project management feels great. Tomorrow ... who knows?


[content deleted on request]


Book Review: Advances in Project Management: Narrated journeys in uncharted territory

Advances in Project Management: Narrated journeys in uncharted territory

Edited by Darren Dalcher; Published by Gower, UK, 2014.

Reviewed by Phil Crosby MICCPM

This volume is a collection of concise and informative articles on topics highly relevant to both new and seasoned practitioners of modern project management. The book works well as both a weekend read, and as a reference compendium with 26 contributors including notable authors such as Harris, Hillson, Müller & Turner, Remington, and Cavanagh. Chapters from industry-based writers and consultants broaden the perspective, and the Scandinavian ‘school’ is well represented, although Flyvbjerg is missing, as are other contemporary experts such as Cooke-Davies, Williams, and Morris.

Professor Darren Dalcher presents a useful scene-setting introduction, as well as an upbeat final chapter that posits a new future for the profession. Dr Dalcher also provides individual chapter introductions, although one feels that some topics could have been more tightly grouped; thus reducing the number of introductions.

That said, the range of subjects covered in this book is impressive. Opening chapters cover uncertainty (with a thought-provoking “thinking backwards” concept), new aspects to risk, risk leadership, and risk tactics, and the practical responsibilities of programme governance and management.

Middle chapters offer a thoughtful mix of topics concerning ethics, psychology, and introspection showing a confluence around emotional and spiritual quotients that underpins the essential success factors of mission focus, camaraderie, and espirit-de-corps. Other sections deal with more programmatical matters around earned value (including a novel modified approach), stakeholder involvement, supply chain planning, and the dangers around optimising benefits.

Later essays tackle decision-making, the role of senior management in cementing projects to business strategy (which we thought was a ‘given’), and sustainability – this latter topic an example of where chapter grouping might have improved the book. This also applies to possibly the two most important essays; Cavanagh on 2nd order project management, and Hatfield’s piece on the coming sea-change to PM science. These complementary chapters offer wisdom and insight to both the problems of, and solutions to, practical development of advanced modern project management.

Above all, this book fills a current gap in the canon of PM literature by offering a practical ‘how-to’ bridge between the Books of Knowledge (e.g. PMI, APM certification) level, and the demands of more complex programmes and projects. I commend this book to any practitioner wanting to understand the added dimensions of the new and highly challenging world of advanced project management.

Dr Philip Crosby is Assistant Director: Western Australia for one of CSIRO’s National Facilities. He is a business strategist and a major projects specialist, with a PhD in high-technology mega-projects. He lectures and publishes widely on this topic, and his latest eBook “Success in Large High Technology Projects - What Really Works” is published by the ICCPM and available through Amazon.

If you would like to purchase a copy, please visit Gower Publishing: http://www.gowerpublishing.com/default.aspx?page=637&calcTitle=1&title_id=12463&edition_id=12846.  ICCPM members receive a 15% discount by entering G12GKT15 at the checkout.

Delivering Once in a Generation Transformational Capital and Non-Capital Intensive Programmes

ICCPM's 5th Annual Conference is in 18 days and we are very excited to meet everyone in Paris!

The programme is taking shape and we have a variety of speakers with a wealth of experience and knowledge to share with you.  The speakers include:

  • Nicolas de Ledinghen (FR) Thales Avionics, Three pillars for development success of the A400M FMS and cockpit: technical, customer & human
  • Patrick Bellouard (FR), Former Director OCCAR-EA, The successful Galileo and A400M programs contribute to the equipment of Europe and provide good lessons for the future
  • Jason Harfield (AUS), Airservices Australia, Transforming the Infrastructure of the sky
  • Jeffery Wilcox (US), Lockheed Martin
  • Donata Garrasi (FR), OECD, Investing in Peace

and along with the individual presentations there will be a panel on the A400M dicussing the transformational nature of the programme and the outcomes.  Delegates will also participate in creating the research agenda for complex project management to 2025 through facilitated groups on the Tuesday afternoon.  This will result in a presentation of the results at the close of the conference by Associate Professor Stephane Tywoniak and these will be included in the post conference publication.

Systems Thinking and Complex Project Management – Brisbane Course

Dates: Wednesday 29 – Friday 31 October 2014

Venue: QUT Gardens Point Campus, Brisbane

Cost: $2,750 + GST per person (discounts available for members and groups)

More information and registration: https://iccpm.com/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=7

This course is aimed at organisational leaders, aspiring program delivery leaders, key project management staff, commercial managers and key advisors. It will be facilitated by Dr Erin Evans from Queensland University of Technology’s Faculty of Business. The course is an introduction to complex project management and looks at real world issues that have led to adopting a systems thinking approach to complex projects. Organisational strategy, stakeholder needs, and project delivery architecture are also covered. During the 3-day program a number of case studies are considered and participants have significant opportunities to consider the transfer of learning to their own projects.

The course is fully catered and participants will receive a certificate of attendance and 10 CPD points.

Here’s what previous participants said about the course:

“I found that the course opened my vision beyond the systems engineering paradigm that I normally work in to look at other methodologies related to the soft systems approach to problem solving. I thought that the approach taken by the course provided enough intellectual rigour on the basis of the individual systems approaches, but also introduced some systems analysis tools and techniques that can be applied within the workplace. The facilitator made the learning process fun, and the facilities provided by QUT were excellent.

Gary Taylor, Director Systems, Software & ILS Competencies, Australian Aerospace Limited - October 2013

"This course extended my skills, and thinking, about complexity in projects. Ted and Erin engage very effectively with the group to introduce several methodologies which are then practiced with interesting case studies. Come to the course ready to work, and you'll never see complex scenarios the same way again!"

Dr Phil Crosby, Strategic Planning & Major Project Specialist, CSIRO Astronomy & Space Science - July 2013

“I found the course was both a challenging and rewarding ‘deep dive’ into complexity management. The course invited us to get comfortable with complexity by thinking about it differently. While not only an interesting intellectual exercise that provides greater depth of understanding around policy, these workshops are also great for team bonding and facilitating the open sharing of more ‘thinking outside the square’ ideas in everyday interactions.”

Rowena Thomson, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet - Feb 2012

Upcoming events

ICCPM Annual Conference

7-8 October, Ecole Militaire, Paris

Delivering Once in a Generation Transformational Capital and Non-Capital Intensive Programmes

Registrations will remain open until 30 September and more information on the event can be found here: http://iccpm2014.wix.com/iccpm2014conference.

IACCM Americas Forum

14 - 16 October, Chicago, US

Our annual IACCM Americas Forum 2014 - Accelerate Success: Deliver Better Business Results is fast approaching. Join the 243 (procurement, commercial, legal, project and contract management) professionals who have already reserved their seat at the upcoming IACCM Americas Forum taking place October 14-16 at the Marriott O’Hare in Chicago. We would like to offer you an exclusive 20% ICCPM discount to attend the event by using code ICCPM20. Visit www.iaccm.com/americas for more information and to register now.

IACCM are Leaders in Value-Driven Trading Relationships: We’re a non-profit association helping organisations around the globe realise value from their trading relationships by providing leading research, supporting innovation and offering guidance to our members. Our membership is over 30,000 strong and uniquely represents both the buy- and sell-side: Procurement/Sourcing, Contracting, Commercial and Legal professionals from over 11,000 organizations across 155+ countries.

International Project Management Day: Power of the Profession

6 November, virtual event

The International Institute for Learning is hosting a free virtual event in recognition of International Project Management Day.  ICCPM is delighted to share that Fred Payne’s presentation, Emergence, is on the agenda.  Additionally, Dr. Larry Starr of Systems Wisdom, an ICCPM Associate Partner, is also on the agenda with Applying Systems Thinking and Design Methodology.  A teaser of Larry’s presentation can be found here http://youtu.be/d3VvKrMYr5k

Also on the agenda are video presentations from global trainers, consultants, practitioners, CEOs, and thought leaders. Please visit the IPM DAY Registration Page to learn how you can attend for free.

Executive Master of Business in Complex Program Leadership / Strategic Procurement

Applications for the part-time cohort commencing Feb 2015, Brisbane are now open.

If you have a depth of understanding about traditional project management approaches, QUT’s Executive Master of Business in Complex Program Leadership or Strategic Procurement will enhance your capabilities in strategic thinking and decision-making, as well as enhancing your skills to lead in complex environments, whether they’re in the world of business or the business of government.  Participants come from both business and government, bringing a diversity of backgrounds, skills and expertise to the cohort. As well as enhancing your learning and networking opportunities you will benefit from the shared wisdom that only a cohort model can provide.

Skilful leaders of complex projects and programs effectively manage ambiguity, emergence, multiple influential stakeholders, new technologies and dynamic interfaces. They may also have to negotiate rolling lifecycles and even projects where only the final effect rather than the specific solution has been defined. In so doing they significantly enhance project planning and execution performance, realising additional value for all stakeholders.

The MBExecCPL is a specialist coursework Masters program that complies with the ‘Competency Standard for Complex Project Managers’ originally developed by global government and industry organisations and now maintained by the International Centre for Complex Project Management ICCPM.

Developing Program Delivery Leaders

The program is designed to move participants from traditional project management with its focus on procedural compliance and engineering management,  to being stakeholder engaged, benefits-focused program and commercial delivery leaders.

MBExecCPL integrates academic knowledge and industry practice with self-awareness and leadership development through a systems-thinking approach that underpins the entire program. Participants are challenged to expand their decision making horizons across disciplines and through the development of attributes such as action orientation, courage and wisdom. The goal is to enrich the workplace behaviour of each participant, particularly with regard to influencing and leading others, thinking innovatively, strategic planning and holistic decision making.

For more information about the Part-time cohort commencing Feb 2015, Brisbane please click the links below:  

Executive Master of Business in Complex Program Leadership: https://www.qut.edu.au/study/courses/master-of-business-executive/master-of-business-executive-complex-program-leadership

Executive Master of Business in Strategic Procurement: https://www.qut.edu.au/study/courses/master-of-business-executive/master-of-business-executive-strategic-procurement


Tim Berners-Lee: A Magna Carta for the Web TedTalk


The Bill Gates Guide to Success: 13 Powerful Quotes from the Founder of Microsoft


Full Accountability for Ethics: The New Normal by Linda Fisher Thornton


Being Curious about Likes and Dislikes by Bridget Grenville-Cleave


"Hearing" all Stakeholders (Even when they're not in the room) by Linda Fisher Thornton


David Chalmers: How do you explain consciousness? Ted Talk


Van Haren Publishing have summarised 35 International Best Practices and Standards into a free download.  Please click here to access the download.  Note that ICCPM provides this document for information only and does not endorse any of the products described or have any ties to Van Haren Publishing.


Boeing blue_large_resized
QUT Business School 



International Centre for Complex Project Management
Level 2, Equinox 3, 70 Kent St
Deakin ACT 2600 Australia
Phone: +61 2 6120 5110

Subject to copyright. ICCPM has taken reasonable care to ensure that all content is correct and up-to-date at the time of publication. This document remains the property of the International Centre for Complex Project Management. No part of it may be reproduced by any means without the prior written permission of the International Centre for Complex Project Management. For further information and requests for distribution please contact: admin@iccpm.com



Key Partners