Navigating Complexity in Project Management

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by: Federico Vargas Uzaga, PMBOK® Guide-Seventh Edition Development Team member

Much is being talked about Value Delivery nowadays. As a matter of fact, many would consider that this is THE major discussion today in the world of project management. If you think about it, value delivery is actually nothing new. Organizations have always embarked on projects to create products (outputs) that would allow them to achieve benefits (outcomes) and hence create value. However, the discussion and positions around the topic have created a division between those who believe a particular way of delivery is the right one and those who disagree as they believe a different approach is needed.

I personally believe that the conditions in which projects are being developed today, with higher levels of uncertainty and complexity, are the cause of such discussion, and that the same conditions require project leaders to make better strategic decisions within their projects to cope with and balance risk exposure in them.

As we know, the risks associated with a project depend, among other things, on the work that needs to be performed and uncertainty determined by the level of clarity or definition of the project’s output and the level of expertise that the project team has.

Taking those two aspects into account, the complexity of the work can be overwhelming and, if not navigated consciously, lead to poor or failed outcomes. The role of the project manager has certainly changed and transmuted requiring a more strategic focus to make better choices regarding delivery life cycles, organizational structure, and development methods. But the focus must remain on delivering outcomes that lead to value creation.

I believe that project management practitioners who survive, thrive, and transform the world are the ones that understand how strategic their role is. These project leaders will navigate through complexity while balancing risk exposure. I suggest that navigating complexity is a fundamental requirement of all projects to one degree or another and is, therefore, a core principle of project management.

Posted by Marjorie Anderson on: October 30, 2019 07:57 AM | Permalink

Comments (6)

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Dear Marjorie
Thanks for sharing Frederick's interesting insight into PMBOK® Guide-Seventh Edition Development Team member
PMI has a publication on this theme "Navigating Complexity: A Practice Guide"

Very interesting thanks for sharing

Project approach can provide inherent risk mitigation with an accelerated feedback cycle, but the benefit in keeping Value in the forefront is twofold; 1) Maintains a [formal] intake process. Too many projects spawn from 'ideas' that have not been vetted through business justification (no real value), and 2) Definition of value, or what value is for a particular project's outcome may be different in the end than initially portrayed. The accelerated feedback loop helps to ensure the path to value stays as true as possible.
Thanks for the article.

A good read. Thanks!

Thank you

Many thanks for sharing Marjorie, and yes so very true in the world of PM today.

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