This paper was originally published as The Strategy of Running Temporary Projects, Innovation, 1971. Although published over thirty years ago, we believe that its perceptive insights are just as valid today.

Thanks to Bob Youker, World Bank (Retired), for bringing this paper to our attention. The paper has since been edited for web presentation, Editor

Copyright: Lawrence Bennigson, MA, 02108. Email: lbennigson@hbs.ed.
Published here August 2004.

PART 1 | Introduction | Project Integration
The Need for Visibility | Personal and Professional Security
Tradeoffs are the Hallmark of the Strategic Approach
Success Criteria for Our Air Pollution Abatement Program 
Selection of Key Management Positions | In Summary ...

Tradeoffs are the Hallmark of the Strategic Approach

As we have examined the various aspects of this framework for approaching CPMS design, we have seen that the central recurring question is: "What is really important in this project?" A strategic approach keeps this question in the foreground by taking a comprehensive view of all the components of the framework and the interactions among them. To see how such strategy can work in practice, let us consider a specific CPMS design question for a public works program.

A metropolitan air pollution abatement program is to be conducted over a period of six months and involves the efforts of a number of different city departments (Sanitation, Health, Budget, Housing, Buildings and Grounds, etc.) The goal is to reduce city-generated pollutants in the air. A large number of pollution-generating garbage incinerators are operated in a variety of facilities throughout the city, and the immediate objectives are to shut them down and to provide alternative means of refuse disposal.

In the general environment air pollution is an issue of national concern. It is a time of general social unrest and poor economic conditions, although federal support for innovative air pollution programs is readily available. It is an election year in the customer environment. Air pollution as a local problem is a popular topic in newspaper editorials. The community is at an economic low and a school bond issue was recently voted down.

The parent organization environment is rigid, cumbersome, and encrusted with long-time city employees. A quasi-civil service operates in the city so that many city employees retain their positions when administrations change. Only the top management layers of each department are political appointees and all performance measurement and career advancement takes place within the hierarchy of a department. Projects are not frequent occurrences in the city.

From the perspective of the project, the city government is the parent organization, while the residents of the city can be considered the customer.

In planning this project we will have to ask a number of tactical questions:

  • What kind of planning and organizational design should be used?
  • Should there a project manager?
  • If so, what kind of person?
  • What information should be reported?
  • How often?
  • To whom?
  • Who will make resource-allocation decisions?

The framework discussed in this article suggests we develop a set of strategic needs for the CPMS before considering various logical alternatives. These global CPMS requirements will emerge from an analysis of the task and the environmental constraints, and an examination of the task and management system criteria for success.

Personal and Professional Security  Personal and Professional Security

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