Monthly Archives: June 2009

Managing Upwards

I am collaborating with Bob McGannon to develop a workshop for the PMOZ conference in Canberra (August 10-12) – Avoiding Project Manglement: Advising Upwards. The workshop brings together three streams of thought; my work on stakeholder management, a collaborative paper with Ken Farnes, From Commander to Sponsor: Managing Upwards in the Project Environment (PMI Denver 2008) and Bob’s work on Intelligent Disobedience.

The workshop will provide a forum for those interested in developing new techniques for managing the expectations and perceptions of important senior managers. The three components of the workshop are:

If the workshop is as successful as we hope, the ideas will roll forward into a new book planned for 2011.


As readers of this blog and our published papers would know I have a passing interest in complexity theory and its application to project management. This seems to be an expanding area of interest world wide.

Last night I was at the PMI Canberra Chapter presenting a summary of my paper ‘Scheduling in the Age of Complexity’ [download the paper] – another good reception for the ideas but more importantly several people in the audience were involved in parallel lines of enquiry. Possibly of most interest is the ideas of Graham Durant-Law see his blog at

Another interesting development is a new publication from PMI, Exploring the Complexity of Projects written by Svetlana Cicmil, Terry Cooke-Davies, Lynn Crawford and Kurt Richardson [see:] A quick skim suggests this is a comprehensive round up of the current state of complexity theory in project management. More on this once I have had a chance to read it.

What is gratifying is seeing the confusion created by the so called ‘College of Complex Project Managers’ and Prof. David Dombkins receding rapidly into obscurity. Rather than the confusion caused by the ‘college’ treating large complicated programs of work as a synonym for complexity theory (as Dombkins did in the original College manifesto); thought leaders world wide seem to be:

The work on understanding complexity in project management has a long way to go and will undoubtedly be the subject of future blogs. Your contribution to the discussion will be welcome.

Travel Update – Tokyo

It has been 3 long weeks on the road…….

First port of call was Boston USA for the PMI College of Scheduling conference. The conference attracted well over 200 people; the numbers were down from 2008 in Chicago but not bad for the middle of a recession. My paper Scheduling in the Age of Complexity was well received and there was a wide range of other papers and key note addresses of interest. The College’s work on its Scheduling Excellence Initiative (SEI)  was progressed and is moving towards the completion of the first stage.

Second stop was the UK for 2 key meetings and some family time. The first meeting was with the CIOB manager developing their guide to scheduling good practice – this standard will have significantly more focus on the practice of scheduling than the current PMI Practice Standard. Whilst the standard will be specifically aimed at the construction industry, my feeling is the content will have wide application. More on this later….

My second UK meeting was with Gower Publishing Ltd to discuss the marketing of Dr. Lynda Bourne’s book, Stakeholder Relationship Management: A Maturity Model for Organisational Implementation. The book will be available in September and pre-publicity will commence soon.

This last week has been in Tokyo as part of the Australian delegation contributing to ISO 21500: A Guide to Project Management. Multi-national committee work can be frustrating but the feeling at the end of 5 intense days was good progress had been made building consensus and the body of the standard was close to being technically complete. As soon as the contents are signed off, the team I work on will finalise the language and glossary and subject to a vote of all of the nations involved, move the standard forward to a formal committee draft. Developing an ISO standard is a slow process, the likely date for publication will be late 2012 by the time the standard has moved through all of the drafts needed to ensure international acceptance. ISO 21500 is designed as an overarching standard to help bring coordination and commonality to the various underlaying national and industry standards such as the PMBOK® Guide.

Now all I need is a quite flight back to Australia and its back to the backlog of mail and business. More later.