The Complexity Equation
In the November 2013 edition of the PMTWORK, Donovan Burba* discusses project complexity as an increasing phenomenon within project management. I was interested in one quote; “the most difficult aspects to manage are the people within the project…” I wonder what else you manage on a project? I develop and monitor a schedule but I do not manage the schedule. I can change durations, change dependencies on the project schedule to manipulate it to be more realistic or to reflect a new milestone but this not management of a project. How do you manage a project except through people.
Complexity is not defined in the article but whatever it is complex projects need project managers with leadership skills and are less depended on technical skills. There are projects where the technical knowledge of the project manager is important to her understanding of the profile of the project and the development of an appropriate project execution approach. I would challenge that the relative need for technical skills in the project manager is correlated to the complexity level of the project. I do believe that there is a relationship between the project profile and the knowledge, skills and abilities of the project manager/ project team.
I would also argue that leadership skills are needed on all projects. The type of leadership skills depends on the project profile.
Understanding the complexity level of the project and the process for matching the execution approach with the project profile is a critical area of project knowledge development. This article highlighted some trends in project management but gave only standard “leadership is important” type solutions. Maybe a few well designed questions would have been more helpful.
* Donovan Burba works for Imagination and produces print and digital content for PMI and MSCI.