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Theory of Management of Large Complex Projects
Abstract and Figures
The essence of the “Theory of Management of Large Complex Projects’ can be captured in three central thoughts. First, that project readiness is a good but not sufficient first step in the broader project initiation process. Project readiness typically presupposes that the owner’s organization is itself ready to undertake the project. This is more often than not, not the case. Second, that the classical theory of project management which focuses on the “transformational” processes which occur in discrete activities, strung together such that the output of one or more is the input to others, is no longer adequate in considering large complex projects. This activity based focus, memorialized in work breakdown structures, neglects the importance of “flows” within the project context. As we more tightly link supply chains into project processes, we begin to see some of the flow considerations that are core in the realm of logistics as being analogs for efficient project management. Precedence’s and unnecessary coupling of activities may harm a project’s performance in ways that may not be evident on initial inspection. Additionally, these flows are no longer static or predictable. Third, a core underlying premise that projects are “bounded” is breached in the world of large complex projects. Rather than well defined boundary limits we discover semi-permeable boundaries across which “influencing flows” transit, impacting the transformational flows within the project proper. These flows arise from a multiplicity of stakeholder’s and other agents who in turn are influenced by the project itself.
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