This Guest paper is an update of an earlier paper published on the Internet in June 1999.

It was submitted for publication on this web site and is Copyright to M.A. Seely & Q.P. Duong, 2005.
Published here January 2006.

PART I | Lowest Management Level | Expectation of Success
An Extrapolation of the Model | Learning Needs | Conclusion
Authors' Postscript | PART III


This paper establishes graphical depictions, constructs, and terminologies to enable efficient dialog on complex project issues for the Dynamic Baseline Model (DBM). It identifies project Level 1 "production," Level 2 "construction," Level 3 "development," and Level 4 "evolution." The commensurate people approaches are Management by Rules (MBR), Management by Methods (MBM), Management by Objectives (MBO), and Management by Values (MBV), respectively. The Lowest Static Baseline (LSB) is suggested as the best indicator of the probability of success, and the concept of a control point or the Lowest Management Level (LML) is identified for each. It is suggested that these terms can be added to the current lexicon of project management terminology for more effective analysis of today's project issues.

The DBM portrays project management learning as a building process through successive learning horizons. According to the mathematician John Allen Paulos,[7] there is a limit to a person's ability to process and understand information; this limit is defined by what Paulos calls our "complexity horizon." In the project management context, up to the complexity horizon, advancing project management solutions for a given project means exercising the wisdom of knowledge and experience. Attempting a project beyond our horizon means exercising faith two or more levels representing a leap of faith. The DBM, by identifying the knowledge horizons, enables us to distinguish knowledge from faith so that we can identify when our project investments are "in good hands" and when they are left to chance.

This distinction between knowledge and faith is important. Extending Paulos' hypothesis, it is suggested that, when managing beyond our horizon, we tend to embrace and seek comfort within that which is familiar, employing project approaches that are within our knowledge horizon. The resulting under targeting of solutions amounts to forcing the problem to accommodate the solution, and not the other way around. Thus we divert our attention from the true issues.

The DBM does not provide solutions. That's where the reader comes in. In the five sample paradoxes that follow, we illustrate the complexity of today's issues and demonstrate the need for a discussion framework to expand our thinking.

The DBM provides a map for navigating to new learning horizons, to assist in our quest to conquer today's project management hurdles.


The authors would like to thank the referees and the editor for comments that have improved both the content and presentation of the original paper. Comments on an earlier version of the paper by Jean C. Roy and Rick M. Trites are also greatly appreciated. The positions expressed remain the personal opinions of the authors only.

Learning Needs  Learning Needs

7. Paulos, J. A., Once upon a number: The hidden mathematical logic of stories, Basic Books, 1998
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