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PRO 7024 : Project Management Complexity

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PRO 7024 : Project Management Complexity

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Course Code: PRO 7024
University: The University Of Adelaide is not sponsored or endorsed by this college or university

Country: Australia

What do you conclude from Carver’s and Maylor’s analogy? And, what on earth do Carver and Maylor mean by structural and dynamic complexity?5th Discussion ForumIs there a relationship between each of these and “The four categories or dimensions, which are based on the source of complexity and may constitute a tool to assist stakeholders in identifying the nature of complexity”, namely:Structural complexity;Technical complexity;Directional complexity; andTemporal complexity.Scale a synonym for Structural complexity?Uncertainty a synonym for Technical complexity?Pace a synonym for Directional complexity?and Socio-political a synonym for Temporal complexity?Or are the respective authors discussing something more complex and subtle? Does then the concept of Structural and Dynamic Complexity alter your initial opinion as discussed by Carver and Maylor in Chapter 5?

The Flying Analogy
The analogy by Carver and Maylor substantially addresses the different levels of complexity a project manager can face depending on their style of management control. From the analogy, it is clear that both structural and dynamic complexities of projects can increase depending on the approach taken (Cooke-Davies, 2011). For instance, a project manager whose control on projects is analogous to a civil pilot has fewer complexities in managing the structure and dynamics of the project. Relating this to project manage, the analogy is an efficient tool that can be used by managers to gauge themselves on what approach is the best to use while undertaking projects. Generally, Carver and Maylor uncover a great insight on how organizations can adjust their project management approaches depending on their systems, procedures and risk measures.
Judging from the two Carver and Maylor, structural and dynamic complexities have completely different meanings due to the dimensions they take. Structural complexity is described as how easy or difficult the mission, organization, schedule, stakeholders, and teams are to manage during a project undertaking. Depending on the nature of the project and the organizational framework of the department dealing with the project, there can be hitches that may make the whole process more complex (Vidal, Marle, and Bocquet, 2011). Furthermore, understanding of the project management methodology to be used and the timeframe requirement are always part of the structural complexity of a project (Cooke-Davies, 2011).
Carver and Maylor also describe dynamic complexities as the extent of changes that occurs mainly on the structural framework of a project. For instance, the frequency of requirements changes, organizational restructuring and the introduction of a new methodology in project management are some of the complex dynamics that are present in any project (Cooke-Davies, 2011). Furthermore, the changes in levels of motivation of the team members as well as changes in stakeholder composition can greatly affect a project. For this reasons, the authors associate complex dynamics with those experienced by fighter pilots and war room operators in their flying analogy.
Categories of Complexity
Carver and Maylor describe the high-levels of complexities as scale, uncertainty, pace and socio-political. Remington and Pollack also identify four dimensions, structural, technical, directional and temporal as categories of complexities. The context of the categories is the same despite it being from different authors and having different terms.
Scale and structural complexity have merely the same context according to what the two groups of authors discuss. While structural complexity talks of how interrelated and interdependence activities can be a basis for complex nature of projects, scale category complexity also touches on the range of tasks that need to be undertaken in a project (Cooke-Davies, 2011). Presumably, the scale of a project measures its magnitude and the structure as well covers all the aspects of the project in terms of size, budget, organisation, and tasks (Aarseth et al., 2017). Essentially, the two terms can be interchangeably used to refer to the same level of complexity of a project. Therefore, it can be argued that there is a close relationship between the dimension of complexity developed by Remington and Pollack and the high-level categorizations described by Carver and Maylor.
Uncertainty as a category of complexity is concerned with the unanticipated issues that are related to the tasks to be carried out. In the same context, the technical complexity of a project involves challenges that may be severe and unanticipated (Cooke-Davies, 2011). Judging from the descriptions from the two groups of authors, they seem to describe the same context of uncertainty in a project but with a different perspective. From the two terms, the primary item being discussed is how unanticipated challenges either due to unknown information about the task involved or issues emanating design of the project may cause complexations to the entire process. Therefore, depending on the context of what is being talked about, either uncertainty or technical complexity can be used to describe the incertitude involved.
For pace and directional complexity, the authors discuss entirely different items. While Remington and Pollack describe directional complexity in terms of goals for the project, Carver and Maylor describe pace in terms of time required to complete a project against the natural time it could take to do the same tasks. In this regard, the two terms cannot be synonymously the same in context. Furthermore, the pace of a project is primarily described in terms of the time it takes to complete one task and the overall timeframe for the entire project (Klein, 2016). Therefore, there is no relationship between the two terms as described by the respective authors in relation to complexity categories/dimensions of projects.
Socio-political and temporal complexity have been discussed as entirely different things by the two set of authors. Although they may some context relate, the approach taken to describe them paints a completely different picture. While Carver and Maylor talk of socio-political complexity as the interactions that exist between the stakeholders involved in the project, Remington and Pollack describe temporal complexity as being the changes associated internal and external environments of the project (Cooke-Davies, 2011),. In this context, there seem to be no relationship between the two terms and thus may not be used synonymously to mean the same thing in regards to project management complexity.
Based on the descriptions of the respective authors on project complexity, they discuss almost the same aspects with minor deviations. However, discerning from their descriptions of the categories of complexity, it becomes subtle. Nonetheless, there are great insights on project management ideas that are consistent with their discussions making the whole thing more interesting and enriching to any upcoming project managers.
However, as discussed by Carver and Maylor, the concepts of structural and dynamic complexity has changed my opinion on the dimensions of the various complexities of a project. Their description is summative of the four categories discussed as they accommodate all the concerns of a project structure as well as unanticipated changes in structure, environment or even methodology of the project. As discussed, the two types of complexities are the primary ones that every project manager needs to understand and be prepared to face. It also changed my perception on the degree of complexity that can be involved depending on the managerial approach. This is after studying the flying analogy they have described.
Aarseth, W., Ahola, T., Aaltonen, K., Økland, A., and Andersen, B. (2017). Project sustainability strategies: A systematic literature review. International Journal of Project Management, 35(6), pp.1071-1083.
Cooke-Davies, T. (2011). Aspects of complexity: Managing projects in a complex world. Newtown Square, Pa.: Project Management Institute.
Klein, L. (2016). Towards a Practice of Systemic Change – Acknowledging Social Complexity in Project Management. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 33(5), pp.651-661.
Vidal, L., Marle, F. and Bocquet, J. (2011). Measuring project complexity using the Analytic Hierarchy Process. International Journal of Project Management, 29(6), pp.718-727.

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