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Project Manager : Project Manager June July 2013
20 Project Manager •COVER STORY " at will not solve the issue. ere needs to be further research around improving productivity and leadership; our ability to manage risk; new approaches to systems and design; and all the IT and digital ecology that goes with it." Atkinson says the University of Sydney is educating project managers about systems and critical thinking, which he says will ultimately allow them to step outside the box and solve problems. "Systems thinking is the ability to determine appropriate options for leading, managing, designing, engineering and modelling complex systems, taking adequate empirical account of di erent system types, con gurations, dynamics and constraints," he explains. "Critical thinking is the ability to ask the right questions and make useful sense of infor mation that is technically complex, incomplete, contradictory, uncertain, changing, non-ergodic and subject to competing claims and interests." Modern challenges While the modern age brings with it projects that are more and more complex, it also brings more di culties associated with being able to deal with complexity. One of the primary issues, argues Atkinson, is the loss of thinking or re ective time within organisations. "W hen we look at successful organisms, most spend around a third of their time re ecting, a third of their time acting and doing, and a third of their time doing other things essential to that organism," he explains. "Many organisations -- particularly those subject to time management -- drive out the re ective capacity of that organisation; that ability to think, especially at senior levels. "W hat they should be doing is creating and maintaining that re ective capacity among their senior sta , so they have time and get out and talk and re ect, and create successful designs and strategies that the company will adapt and evolve in the future." Another huge challenge, says Atkinson, is retaining knowledge, data and information within an organisation. " e ability to hold knowledge in most companies is no more than 15 years, so if companies today had a complex problem that existed in the 1990s, they no longer have a collective memory back to that point," he explains. " is retention of knowledge beyond the 15-year point is important to how we e ectively and e ciently manage our future resources, which brings us to the idea of synthetic ecologies." Synthetic ecologies, explains Atkinson, are networks that combine the real and the virtual -- and are particularly di cult given the constant changes in the realm of information and data storage, as well as the erosion of social knowledge networks. "One of the challenges of the digital age is that a lot of the media we have used to store records is no longer accessible," he says. "We are yet to create a data storage system that will retain information and data for more than 15 years, or up to 2,000 years, which is the paper record we still have." Ongoing education Despite the inherent di erences between traditional project management and CPM, there are still bene ts for project managers adopting CPM methods on linear projects. " e principles of distributing leadership in your organisation, trying to recognise bottom-up concepts, can work in traditional projects," says Ireland. "But in the end, if you've got a simple construction and you're trying to do it in a hurry, you're probably best to have top-down management." Hayes agrees that the two methodologies overlap. "It's important to understand that project manager development is a continuum. When you eventually get into the CPM space, you need to develop additional and di erent skills. What we have developed, and what continues to grow, is that the complex space does have a ow-on e ect, especially when you consider the delivery leadership attributes for traditional project managers." According to Atkinson, education and universities will have a signi cant role to play in the future of CPM. "It is vital for the universities of the future to provide the synthetic ecology environment in which we retain knowledge over time," he says. "Someone could work as e ectively here in the university as they could in their ow n organisation, and in their organisation they could be doing research -- that is a really signi cant step that will add to the ability to understand the complex and do the system modelling.” ••• ONE OF THE CHALLENGES OF THE DIGITAL AGE IS THAT A LOT OF THE MEDIA WE HAVE USED TO STORE RECORDS IS NO LONGER ACCESSIBLE
Project Manager Apr May 2013
Project Manager Aug Sept 2013