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Project Manager : Project Manager Dec Jan 2013
18 Project Manager THOUGHT LEADERS Professor Dalcher is the founder and Director of NCPM. He is Professor of Software Project Management at Middlesex University, Visiting Professor at the University of Iceland and Adjunct Professor at the Lille Graduate School of Management (SKEMA). He leads the Software Forensics Centre, a specialised unit that focuses on systems failures, software pathology and project failures. PROFESSOR DARREN DALCHER Faced with a complex or 'wicked' problem and finding project management theory coming up short? Don't despair: the good news is that in solving it, you will find longer-term project success and an ability to think strategically. ALEXANDRA CAIN A wicked path to success MANY OF THE PROBLEMS FACED BY PROJECT MANAGERS DO NOT CONFORM TO IDEALISED STRUCTURES IN THE MAY 2012 ISSUE OF THE UK magazine Project, Professor Darren Dalcher from Hertfordshire Business School calls for a di erent approach to dealing with the often complex issues project managers are required to resolve. Logic dictates that simple problems require simple solutions. "Such simplistic problem con gurations can be viewed as well de ned, well str uctured, tame or benign. e processes they require match that simplicity by implying a deterministic order of resolution, further suggesting a target state that is optimal. Tame problems thus bene t from linear, step-by-step resolution approaches." According to Dalcher, this approach has limited applications, as project managers are faced with challenging, multi-faceted problems that are not able to be resolved through traditional project management and problem- solving techniques. "In practice, many of the problems faced by project managers do not conform to idealised structures," he writes. "Instead, project managers have to deal with novel, one-of-a- kind, unfocused and complex situations that are better characterised as ill str uctured." What is a wicked problem? First, a de nition. Dalcher says a wicked problem is an inherently di cult problem that de es traditional resolution approaches. "Wicked problems refer to ill-for mulated situations with confusing infor mation and multiple and con icting interests and priorities. A problem is wicked because it is interconnected, complex and uid, and the required understanding and knowledge are incomplete, contradictory and ambiguous." In the article, Dalcher writes: "Success in solving wicked problems will depend on our exibility, responsiveness and skills in the areas of communication, collaboration and leadership. Wicked problems have de ed resolution by traditional approaches. eir complexity and interconnectivity require a new way of thinking about addressing needs and solving problems. Typically, attempts to apply simple solutions to wicked problems lead to a series of new problems, what Dalcher calls "a new cycle of resolution". "We must continue to try to address wicked problems," he writes, " but do so with heightened sensitivity to the features of such problems and be bold enough to rethink our notions of problem solving, resolution processes and, above all, the meaning of success in the long-ter m context of delivering meaningful and lasting change." A more strategic approach Project managers must focus on developing a growing understanding of the problem context and build a successive stream of actions that rely on continuous negotiation, deliberation and discovery, Dalcher told Project Manager. is implies challenging the orthodoxy of traditional resolution approaches to nd methods that can facilitate long-ter m (
Project Manager Oct Nov 2012
Project Manager Feb Mar 2013