Investing in Complexity

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

I know of some people who thrive on complex projects. Whether it be as a project manager or as a team member, they love the idea of a mental challenge that will always cause them to think of creative solutions to new problems. They love the idea of working with colleagues to develop creative solutions and to be able to say they played a part in delivering a truly complex initiative.

I also know of some people—many more—who hate having to work on complex projects. It’s not that they don’t like a challenge, or they only want to work on predictable and less mentally stretching initiatives; it’s that they feel the benefits of such projects are outweighed by the inevitable frustrations that will occur. Whether it’s failed solutions, misunderstood or changing requirements, difficult-to-trace defects or any number of other problems, they feel that the “bad” elements of complex projects far outweigh the “good” elements.

At an individual level, that’s okay—not everyone is suited to working on every type of project, and some people are less suited to more complex initiatives. But what about when that mindset of wanting to avoid complex projects extends to organizations? I know of a number of executives who are very reluctant to invest in such projects because they feel as though they are setting themselves up …

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