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

Authors' Postscript

Since the writing of our original paper, through extensive discussion with project management professionals across Canada there has been significant further development of the concepts of the Dynamic Baseline Model. Particular focus has been at Level 4 and Level 5. A few key conclusions from this further development can be summarized as follows.

  • A better understanding of the transition in complexity from Level 2 to Level 3 can be gained by understanding the distinction between "detail complexity" - the basis for the standard Project Management implementation model appropriate for Level 2, and "dynamic complexity", inherent in the higher levels. Recommended further reading on the nature of dynamic verses detailed complexity is The 5th Discipline by Peter Senge.
  • From a Systems Engineering perspective, Levels 4 and 5 are "open systems" as opposed to the "closed system" project environment of the first three levels. As such, the normal management constructs of control and accountability no longer readily apply. They must therefore be viewed from a "governance" perspective.
  • Governance based environments are considerably different in that solutions are externally determinate (determined by the environment the project solution is being implemented into). With this, Project Managers sense a loss of control over the directions of the project. In fact, they are commonly (and appropriately) referred to as project champions.
  • Level 4 is for project scenarios that are considered open yet within the ambit of enterprise operations. This is referred to as corporate or enterprise governance.
  • Level 5 is for project scenarios that are open to directing interactions with the public and must be viewed from a "Public Governance" perspective. Extensive information on the nature of modern governance is available at the University of Ottawa, Centre on Governance
  • At Level 5, with a dynamic Principles baseline, one must use a higher reference. Management by Values has been used as this higher reference, "Values" meaning fundamental societal values of the global public.
  • Prediction of outcomes in the open systems, governance environment of Levels 4 and 5 is made more challenging due to a "Quantum" effect: as you implement the project solution, the stakeholder environment reacts to this implementation and changes the premises that guided the project forward to begin with (i.e. providing the answer serves to change the question).
  • Though the lack of control at the high levels of the DBM may seem disconcerting, it is important to note that the project is not directionless. Rather than the project following a path devised by authorities internal to the enterprise, it follows a path of optimal fit with its external environment. As project managers lose control, thankfully, they also lose prerogative. In effect those leading the projects become little more than a catalyst in this natural process of action and reaction between the project and its environment.
  • This concept of external determinacy and the intended loss of prerogative really defines the major distinction between the lower and higher archetypes of the DBM. The customary notion of focusing on "what I care to build" at the lower levels is replaced with attention to "what is sustainable" for the future at Levels 4 and 5.
  • Project teams and stakeholders require a degree of stability to ensure an optimal coordination of effort. As such, project champions of Levels 4 and 5 will continually face a balancing act between leaving the project scope open to accommodate evolving stakeholders' interests and fixing baselines to enable progress toward a product or final outcome.
  • Proper consideration of external dynamics and navigating the balancing act between forced stability over natural dynamics appear to be the key to prosperity in managing complexity.

Within the PM community, there has also been much interest lately in developing a general classification system for projects that would assist organizations to remember past successes and learn from past challenges.[8]

Next month

In Part III we will follow on with five "Paradoxes":

Conclusion  Conclusion

8. Interested readers can consult the following reference: Crawford, L., J.B. Hobbs, & J.R. Turner, Project Categorizations Systems, Project Management Institute, 2005
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