by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Project Manager : Project Manager Apr May 2014
38 Project Manager "I CAN UNDERSTAND HOW A PMO CAN help with ICT and construction projects, but what possible good would it be for the obesity issue?" asked the Health Minister. "If all my experts don't have an answer, how can a bunch of paper pushers help?" is got the PMO manager thinking about wicked problems and her role. A wicked problem is one that is difficult or impossible to resolve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements, where a linear deter ministic approach won't work. For ex ample, is obesity a medical problem? Or a cultural or behavioural one? Or even a historic policy problem? And who ow ns the problem anyway? Rittel and Webber defined 10 characteristics on social policy problems in 1973 that can also be broadly applied to other wicked problems. And with a list of characteristics in place, a set of defined strategies to manage wicked problems followed in 2000, with Roberts' authoritative, competitive and collaborative approaches. Where does the PMO come in? True, PMOs are seen as supporting the delivery of programs and projects. ey are also increasingly supporting strategic delivery, providing frameworks, tool and techniques to: • deﬁne problems • quantify the beneﬁts of solving the problem • manage the process to identify and deliver an appropriate solution • track progress and adjust approaches during delivery • measure the beneﬁts realised As a centre of excellence, a PMO can provide guidance on what methods, tools and techniques to use. It can also provide support on how to use them best. is understanding of how to approach problems and build solutions makes PMOs valuable. To show this, let's have a look at some of the issues encountered when addressing wicked problems and at what methods, tools and techniques can be applied. The right tools Wicked problems do not have simple good or bad options. e interconnected, non- sequential nature of such a problem makes it similar to a Gordian Knot, so break it into more manageable chunks and streams of work, recognising there are comple x interdependencies. If possible, apply systems thinking to build an understanding of the linkages and interactions between the elements that compose the entirety of the system. Look at what tools for complex projects can be applied to the problem. Also, recognise that you can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs; making one thing better may make another worse in the short ter m, but that might be necessary to move to where you want to get to. is fits well with program management, which focuses on delivering a vision through projects that deliver step change through portions of work. Once an approach has been identified, some activities can be tackled immediately and others, especially where they are dependent on other deliverables or scarce resources, will have to be delayed. e planning of this aligns with portfolio prioritisation and demand management. Different aspects of wicked problems will exhibit a range of uncertainty. W here there is uncertainty, agile approaches can be used to iteratively and incrementally move towards more certainty; kicking off research and development projects or market research activities for ex ample. e principle of 'fail fast' THE OFFICE How PMOs can solve wicked problems Seeing a PMO as one spoke of an administrative cog overlooks the role it can play in the resolution of difficult wicked problems. GARY YORKE Gary Yorke is a National Director of AIPM and National and Victorian Chair of the PMO SIG. He is also Principal Consultant with MetaPM.
Project Manager Feb Mar 2014