Complexity and Project Management

Planboard Planning. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Planboard Planning. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Some years ago I defined an innovation project as the proper basement to support ideas and to manage the development of innovation and its internal and external dissemination in order to get the essential characteristic of any innovation system that it is to make easy what is difficult. In more modern words, a project is an organized way to reduce the complexity of any activity.

I advanced that the project is the main way to control the risk of the activity. In other words, we can say now that reducing complexity we are limiting the risk of the activity. Going farther, I mentioned that innovation project is a special kind of investment project where there is more than a bounded risk, there is an inherent uncertainty. This inherent uncertainty must be balanced through a more rigorous definition of tasks. In other words we need to reduce the internal uncertainty of the defined activity to balance the total addition of internal and external uncertainty, because we can do nothing on the external one.

Complexity management is not new, however, in the recent years, new methodologies and approaches have appeared in order to make this activity more effective from the use of science.

Complexity management as science let us to understand better how we can improve in our investment decisions but this is not anything against the reduction of complexity organizing activities through projects.

Any activity to improve the future must be planned in a project or a set of them because the future is uncertain and our modern societies are driven through very complex activities. Project management continues being the best way to reduce complexity. We only need to add complexity management techniques to the definition of projects in order to make our work simpler instead of more complex.

A project is only a planned route to turn an idea into something real. Projects make our life simpler and they let that we can live far from uncertainty and risk. We cannot imagine an engineer working without an engineering project, a business man working without a business project, or a political party working without a social project. If there is no project, there is no work, and then there is no value for the society where they live.

Once we have understood this, we will be able to analyze which project is better to comply with its aim, or in other words, which project is less complex and which project produces a less complex result. This can be done through complexity measurement techniques.

The complexity of the project will define its capability to reach the result. The more complex the project is, the more difficult its management is and the more difficult to reach the aim is. On the other hand, different projects can drive to different results producing different amount of complexity and uncertainty.


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