Forums Managing Risk in Complexity SIG
(MRC SIG)
Working Group B: What principles are important in dealing with complexity?

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  • Davin Shellshear
    SIG Chair
    @davin-shellshear
    Post count: 103
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    Hi Ian – my bad

    I had highlighted areas related to people’s behaviours for my own benefit, and forgot to remove them on the first post. I subsequently uploaded a new version without the highlights.

    Unfortunately Lizzy used the first version for her work, so please ignore the highlights and regard as the ravings of an old man.

    Cheers

    Davin

    Ian Mack
    Participant
    @ian-mack
    Post count: 68
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    Hi Davin (and Lizzy) – I have accessed your document (Lizzy) and started the edits. There are places where sections are highlighted in yellow (at beginning of Annex A for example), but without any comment. Am I missing something?    Ian

    Davin Shellshear
    SIG Chair
    @davin-shellshear
    Post count: 103
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    Hi Ian,

    If you can identify what edits are needed, based on your review of Lizzy’s comments and other matters that have emerged since the formatted version was created,  I can update the formatted version accordingly.

    Cheers

    Davin

    Ian Mack
    Participant
    @ian-mack
    Post count: 68
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    Hi Lizzy – It has fallen to me to address your proposed edits, I hope I am able to do them justice, and thanks for offering them!

     

    Davin – I have an ancient version of WORDE and I am not sure I can actually do the edits and save a useful document that is useful to you and others. As time allows, I will try a sample to confirm, otherwise …    Ian

    Ian Mack
    Participant
    @ian-mack
    Post count: 68
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    Hi all – Project lifecycle has reared its head again, a question that I think we are repeating. But let me give it a try.

    Perhaps partially in response to Stephen’s ‘provocative’ comment, I always like to start with a definition, which for lifecycle not surprisingly focuses on ‘living’ things: ‘the series of changes or stages in the life of an organism’. Since projects have a start and end point – the attribute that separates them generally from ‘business as usual’ – they have a lifecycle. Furthermore, they are about introducing a change to some aspect of the business of a parent organization.

    And as with organisms, there are project stages. I think we all agree with this much, so the question with complex projects is about whether there are discreet stages or whether there is a methodology that applies in all phases – or both.

    The project stages are often defined in different ways but they typically include  the following 8 functions in a work breakdown structure (WBS): a requirement identification, a project set-up, an options analysis, an exploration and development of the selected option’s planned path forward, a cost and schedule assessment, an application of a solution methodology (e.g. development of a contract sourcing document, sourcing a supplier, and awarding a contract), the work to deliver the desired/contracted solution (including commissioning), a project close-out after delivery is complete. One function that I typically modify in the complex project’s WBS is cost and schedule deinition, which I show as continuous from its in its initiation early in the project across the entire lifecycle except ‘project close-out’.

    The question we had already explored was whether and how complex projects differ than less complicated projects in terms of a linear execution of these stages or functions.

    After our previous discussion, I summarized what I drew from our discussion and included it at the end of Annex B of the draft paper.  I suppose that could now be modified, to include a somewhat unique complex project methodology: “probe, sense, make sense and act based on continuous risk scanning for emergence”. I would offer the following:

    “When dealing with the significant emergence as is typical of complex projects, the operative word is ‘rework’ to some degree of the project’s discrete WBS functions, as required in response to emergent events/behaviours identified through the collective, continuous and integrated risk scanning activity done by all members of the project enterprise: probe, sense, make sense and act. Furthermore, significant emergence needs to be represented by showing that project cost and schedule definition/assessment is a continuous process of work that runs parallel with all project stages until the project close-out stage starts.”

    With luck, I will BE ON TIME for the next Group meeting.   Ian

    Stephen Grey
    Participant
    @stephen-grey
    Post count: 86
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    Lizzy

     

    I found out how to convert Pages files to Word

     

    The converted file is attached

    Steve

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    Stephen Grey
    Participant
    @stephen-grey
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    Lizzy

     

    I am pretty sure the next session in Thursday next week, the 27th, not tomorrow

    Lizzy Smith
    Participant
    @serviceworksmith-com-au
    Post count: 4
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    I have finally read the draft
    <p class=”p1″><b>CONSIDERATIONS FOR ACHIEVING COMPLEX PROJECT DELIVERY</b></p>
    ICCPM-2022-5-CPM-Considerations-Endnotes-V4-DS -formattting

    An impressive body of knowledge collated to date

    My comments (attached)  are mainly around editing and structure of the document for clarity /readability and some questions about the intent of a few statements. – I hope to discuss with you tomorrow morning.

     

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    Stephen Grey
    Participant
    @stephen-grey
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    I have been unable to attend the last two meetings so I might be off the pace a bit but the sense I had emerging from the conversation, and from Ian’s recounts of his experience, was that with a truly complex project it is advisable to essentially design your own approach to suit the job

     

    That is not to say start from scratch but rather to assemble all the artifacts, tools, procedures and management structures we all know with appropriate tailoring and shifts of emphasis to give the work the best chance of success

    Robert McMartin
    SIG Chair
    @rmcmartin
    Post count: 12
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    While I do agree about the concept of a lifecycle, I am in two minds about it.

    In one respect, a lifecyle shows a system that can be repeated many times and produce a consistent result (whether or not that result is positive or negative, I will leave that to the philosophers).

    Whether it is Software, Project or Product, it merely highlights that these things operate in a cyclical fashion.

    This is where I believe it would fall over on Complexity.  As the one thing we all agree on is that every complex project is complex in its own way and both how it became complex, either through emergence, or on establishment, means that the “normal” PM rules, nothing changes from the requirements of Cost, Schedule, and Quality, they are still the end result, but the path to achieve this becomes considerably more difficult (might I say complex).

    As a PMO, my role is to create standards and guidelines for the projects to provide a consistent result, or at least monthly review to determine if the project is not only progressing and delivering, but also that we are still within budget.

    Complexity, through emergence, or even from establishment, means that areas such as budget and schedule and possibly even deliverables are subject to change without notice.

    Stephen Grey
    Participant
    @stephen-grey
    Post count: 86
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    This is not meant to be provocative, rather to explore a little – what is the purpose of a “life cycle”

    I have a sense that the term is used often without thought, as if you have to have one even though its purpose, and how well it fulfills that, is not clear

    If we knew what we wanted the structure to do it would be easier to answer the question

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by Stephen Grey.
    Simon Springate
    Participant
    @springates
    Post count: 9
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    I think there needs to be something about checking for new ‘complexities’.  A review implies ‘check you are doing what you planned’ rather than checking if the playing field has moved.

    Robert McMartin
    SIG Chair
    @rmcmartin
    Post count: 12
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    Good morning everyone,

    Once more a question, that may or may not have been answered.

    What would the Complex Project Lifecycle look like.  I am envisioning more Review, Check and Act, or would the existing project lifecycle be sufficient.

     

    Rob

    Ian Mack
    Participant
    @ian-mack
    Post count: 68
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    Thanks for the article, Rob. I missed the recent meeting so your comment about good risk managers spotting these financial crashes may have roots in the discussion at that meeting.

    As per a recent ‘thread’ we had over one of the Big 4’s (some say it is 5) consulting firm’s annual report, you rightly highlighted the absence of the assessment of talent which is key. And at the risk of repeating what you may have discussed in the meeting I just missed (MY BAD) and what I said in that discussion thread, Risk Managers are often not experienced in all of the aspects of the risks in a complex business – instead, they must rely on so many presumed ‘experts’ – one or more (many?) such experts providing input that is a guess, based on limited information (corporate secrets can hide so much), or outright ‘optimism bias. Being charitable, some of these Blacl Sawn events might be wrapped up in that.

    But it more likely was as you said – the risks should have been identified – and I would add, probably were. Relating some of my own experience, I have watched high risk issues that are repeatedly identified but not realized, become ‘the new normal’ with complacency setting in with decision-makers. And as per some recent research, when people see others getting away with benefits that are very risky (or even illegal), they are prone to do the same thing – this especially so with those comfortable with taking risks and ‘perpetual cheaters’. I suspect that some of these human frailties played out, whether all those involved were ethical professionals or not. After all, companies are in business to take risks to make money, and if many others are doing so the pressure to ‘stay with the pack’ can be overpowering.

    A great article, which unfortunately is absent the comments of the risk managers of the many governments and businesses involved – those likely in post-event investigations and buried under layers of confidentiality. Many thanks – Ian

    Robert McMartin
    SIG Chair
    @rmcmartin
    Post count: 12
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    Good morning everyone,

    Working on the transcripts and video of this morning meeting.

    Please find attached an article that some might be interested in it is based around 9 financial risks that came to pass.  In fact, I am pretty sure prudent risk managers would have spotted the risks in these events long before they occurred.

    9 Black Swan Events that changed the Financial World | by Faisal Khan | Technicity | Medium

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