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Projects from first principles

Projects in today’s business environments can be amongst the most challenging of projects. Although Project Management certifications and more recent development methodologies have improved success rates, many projects still struggle to achieve positive outcomes.

When we think of a project we typically think of it as a set of interrelated tasks.  The Gantt chart is the most common representation of this perspective as it captures the tasks and their relationships. While a Gantt chart is a valuable tool, the task oriented view of a project camouflages the simple fact that at the most fundamental level, a business projects is a large scale decision making activity.

The four constituents of project work

All work carried out during a project can be considered as falling into one of four categories;

  1. Physical activities (pouring concrete, building walls, etc)
  2. Information acquisition and analysis
  3. Knowledge transfer
  4. Decision making

The relative significance of these four activities varies by project. While construction projects in the civil engineering field have a heavy bias towards physical activities, research projects are based primarily on information acquisition and analysis.

Business projects often fall into the class of projects that are decision centric. They involve high numbers of decisions covering many different types of issues.

Projects in which decision making plays a dominant role are particularly challenging because they require;

  1. Strong communications between individuals and groups
  2. High levels of collaboration
  3. Significant levels of expertise
  4. An understanding of how decisions are made and the judgment to know whether or not effective decisions are being made
  5. Significant leadership capabilities

The gap in today’s Project Management Training

Traditional Project Management practices were first derived in the fields of civil and marine construction. These origins have resulted in the “task centric” view of projects that is taught in the majority of today’s Project Management training classes.

While this training is of value to those working in the business sector, it fails to adequately represent the real world challenges they face.   This gap between what is taught and what happens in the real world is one of the fundamental problems that makes managing a business project so difficult.

Calleam’s unique perspective fills in this void by recognizing that decision making is the central activity.  In fact, at its core, the problem facing those leading business projects is the question; “How do we manage a large scale, complex, decentralized decision making activity?” 

Calleam’s fundamental insights and work in analysing the causes of failed projects provides an unparalleled platform from which to train those leading business projects.  Calleam training has been specifically designed to reflect the real world challenges that make managing business projects so difficult.  Written by practicing Project Managers, Calleam training captures the cause and effect relationships that drive project outcomes and distills into clear patterns the primary mechanisms that lead to project failure and those that lead to project success.

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