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Open Invitation to participate in project management methodology research

By Jouko Vaskimo

[email protected]

Aalto University, School of Science and Technology, Espoo, Finland

Abstract

Having been practiced in various forms for millennia, project management has become increasingly recognized since the 1950s through endeavors related to the Apollo space program, the Concorde aircraft, the English Channel tunnel and the Sydney Opera House. Many practical works and theoretical papers have been published in attempts to identify factors leading to project success, and issues to avoid in order to elude project failure. Meanwhile many organizations have been collecting project management processes, best practices and lesson learned, and compiling them into structured collections known as project management methodologies. These collections have received surprisingly little academic attention: There are no papers focusing on them, and the few papers referencing them typically leave the concept undefined and unappreciated. This may be due to the concept being considered trivial, or the boundary which appears to exist between project management theory and practice. This is surprising, again, considering the rich empirical data project management methodologies offer for project management research. Project management methodology logics, structures, contents and their connections to organizational backgrounds, circumstances and targets appear especially interesting from the theoretical point of view. The research I am planning to perform is based on two beliefs I have: Clues towards a pragmatic theory of project management can be identified, and the divide between the practical and theoretical fields of project management alleviated by examining organizational project management methodologies. Planning to perform a multiple case study, I am kindly inviting organizations to sign up for participation in my attempt to establish the first generally acceptable theory of project management.

  • Introduction

I am a 45 year old PhD student at the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management at Aalto University, School of Science and Technology, Espoo, Finland. Having started post-graduate studies in 2009 under the supervision of Professor Karlos Artto, I am now commencing the research for my PhD thesis. I have an interest in project management methodologies, and believe there is a connection between project management methodologies and a pragmatic theory of project management.

This is important from the practical perspective, as an improved understanding of project management methodologies is likely to increase their ability to enhance project effectiveness and chances for project success, and from the theoretical perspective as I expect the rich empirical data to allow the first generally acceptable theory of project management to be established.

Having graduated from Aalto University (at the time known as Helsinki University of Technology) in 1992, I have served in a number of project management positions ranging from project engineer to projects director. I am a Certified Scrum Master, and PMP, IPMA Level C, IPMA Level B and PRINCE2 Foundation certified, and looking forward to upgrading my PRINCE2 certificate and acquiring the PgMP certificate. I chair the local IPMA Certification Body (operating IPMA certification in Finland), and head the Finnish Delegation to ISO/PC 236 and ISO/TC 258.

The aim of this paper is to invite organizations to sign up for the proposed research: This means allowing the analysis of organizational project management methodology in order to gain an understanding of the related logics, structures, contents, and their connections to organizational backgrounds, circumstances and targets.

  • The Empirical Study

I am planning to implement the empirical part of research for my PhD thesis as a multiple case study following the framework defined by Kathleen Eisenhardt in her seminal paper Building theories from case study research as published in the October 1989 issue of The Academy of Management Review.

The initial research questions are:

RQ 1: Why do organizations create and employ project management methodologies?

RQ 2: How do organizations structure and populate project management methodologies?

I am looking for eight organizations to participate in the empirical study. Eight cases is considered optimum by multiple case study specialists, however, I am contacting a higher number understanding some organizations will decline this invitation, and some case selection will be necessary for improving the generalizability of the emerging theory. It is necessary for all organizations participating in the research to have a project management methodology, however, there is no need for this methodology to be extraordinary, or to be provided by a leading global supplier: Any project management methodology which provides appropriate service to the organization is well suited for the purposes of this research.

It would be best from theory generalization point of view to have the participating organizations represent polar opposites on following axes: Private – Public; Americas – EMEA/APAC; ICT – Other industries:

 

Private  vs.  Public

public

Americas vs. EMEA/APACEMEA

  ICT   vs.  Other

other

Organization “A”

ü

ü

ü

Organization “B”

ü

ü

ü

Organization “C”

ü

ü

ü

Organization “D”

ü

ü

ü

Organization “E”

ü

ü

ü

Organization “F”

ü

ü

ü

Organization “G”

ü

ü

ü

Organization “H”

ü

ü

ü

Data collection, including one-to-one interviews with the people involved in project management methodology development, methodology management, and methodology use will be carried out with each participating organization. The aim of these interviews, which will be recorded and transcribed, is to collect information from the relevant people. Also, all available electronic and/or mechanic materials on methodology logics, structures, contents and their connections to organizational backgrounds, circumstances and targets will be collected and/or recorded. The empirical part of research will be organized in such a way that each participating organization only needs to invest the interviewees’ time to participate in the research. All collected information will be considered and treated as strictly confidential. Applicable confidentiality agreements can be signed, as/if necessary, with all participating organizations. Research results will be published anonymously, and in such a way that it will be impossible to identify participating organizations and/or methodology details from the results.

All participating organizations will receive, in exchange for contributing, a summary of their project management methodology, and an analysis of their methodology according to the results of this research.

There is no exact time schedule for this research, however, my plan calls for the data collection to be implemented by the end of 2012. Relevant details will be agreed to as the list of participants emerges.

Hoping for as wide participation as possible, I kindly ask organizations wanting to sign up to participate and/or needing further information to email me at [email protected] .

Manfred Saynisch Project Management Foundation Launched in Germany

By Mary McKinlay in UK

22nd of August 2012, Lille, France –  Manfred Saynisch, an award-winning researcher in Project Management and co-author of “Beyond the Frontiers of Traditional Project Management”, has announced the establishment of the Manfred Saynisch Project Management Foundation in Germany.  The announcement was made on the 22nd of August 2012 at the Research and Innovation Seminar of the International Center for Complex Project Management (ICCPM) held at the SKEMA Business School in Lille, France.

Speaking at the conference in Lille, Manfred stated that he has established his foundation to promote research and development of new ideas in project management.  Stephen Hayes, CEO of the International College of Complex Project Management (ICCPM), emphasised the importance of the work of the Manfred Saynisch Project Management Foundation for the development of ground-breaking advances in project management and their benefits for complex project management.

It was also announced that an annual Manfred Saynish Project Management Innovation Award would be presented to a leading contributor in the project management research field.  On the 23rd August  the Winner of the inaugural, 2012 Manfred Saynisch Project Management Innovation Award was announced to be Professor Dr Christophe Bredillet. Manfred Saynisch, in his introduction to the award  spoke of Christophe’s  ground breaking research for a philosophy of science promoting  Project Management.

(Editor’s note: see article elsewhere in the PM World Journal for coverage of the inaugural Manfred Saynisch Project Management Innovation Award.)

Below is an information sheet about the new Manfred Saynisch Project Management Foundation.

For information about the Manfred Saynisch Project Management Foundation, visit www.mspm-stiftung.de or contact [email protected].

About the Author

Mary McKinlay

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary McKinlay is a Trustee and Board Member for both the Association for Project Management (APM) in the UK and the International Centre for Complex Project Management based in Australia.  Following a degree in Systems Engineering, Mary’s career has encompassed working on large multinational projects as well as internal IT projects.  She is a project management practitioner and, after 30 years in aerospace and defence , founded Mary McKinlay Projects Ltd in September 2005.

In 2005, Mary was appointed as an Adjunct Professor of Project Management at Skema in France where she teaches at the Lille and Paris Campuses.  She also works as a Visiting Professor for the EMBA Course in Complex Project Management at Queensland University of Technology in Australia, in addition to working as a teaching fellow at the National Centre for Project Management at the University of Middlesex in the past year.

Her industrial experience has been complemented by work on research programmes, involving collaboration internationally between industry and academics. She has produced many papers and is a frequent conference speaker worldwide.  The job of interesting young people in engineering careers is a passion of hers and she is also a STEM Ambassador with special responsibilities as a Bloodhound Ambassador (Bloodhound SSC project).

Team Learning in Projects – New Research on Learning Teams published by PMI

The Project Management Institute (PMI®) has published Team Learning in Project: Theory and Practice, a new book resulting from research by Chantal Savelsbergh, PhD and Peter Storm, PhD.  The research and the book examine team learning and how to increase team learning rates, based on research into successful project teams.

According to the PMI summary: How can today’s project be done well? How can tomorrow’s project be done even better? These two classic questions are the foundation for Team Learning in Projects: Theory and Practice, a report of research conducted by Chantal Savelsbergh and Peter Storm. This research follows a previous effort that revealed a strong and positive relationship between team performance and team learning. In this report the researchers drop the second shoe by exploring how to increase team learning behaviors. Their investigation is based on the underlying principle that projects have two goals: to perform and to learn. Learning supports performance of current and future projects; performance stimulates the desire to improve and drives learning.

Team Learning in Projects answers two more-focused, research questions: Is it possible to increase the level of team learning within and among project teams with the aid of time-limited interventions? How do different conditions influence the effectiveness of these interventions? The answers are often not-so-surprising, but always informative for both improved understanding and guidance on a new path forward.

Chantal Savelsbergh, PhD is an associate professor at the Open University of the Netherlands.  She received a master’s degree in engineering and management at the university of Eindhoven. She started her career in business focusing on consultancy activities in ICT and HR management. After 13 years, she joined the faculty of management at the Open University of the Netherlands where she teaches and does research in the areas of teamwork, project management and human resource development. In 2010 she finished her PhD on team learning in project teams. She is also involved in coaching project managers in their professional development.

Peter Storm, PhD is head of Kennis & Co, the Hague, the Netherlands and former professor at the Open University of the Netherlands.

PMI is the world’s largest project management member association, representing more than 600,000 practitioners in more than 185 countries. As a global thought leader and knowledge resource, PMI advances the profession through global standards, credentials, chapters, virtual communities, academic research and publications. To see the latest books from PMI, visit http://marketplace.pmi.org.

For more information about PMI, visit www.PMI.org, www.facebook.com/PMInstitute, and on Twitter @PMInstitute.


Team Learning in Projects: Theory and Practice, by Chantal Savelsbergh, PhD and Peter Storm, PhD, published by PMI in the USA; ©2012, 90 pages, soft cover, ISBN 9781935589501; List price = US$24.95; info at http://marketplace.pmi.org/Pages/ProductDetail.aspx?GMProduct=00101316901

PMI members and students receive discounted pricing.

Laudation for Christophe Bredillet for Inaugural 2012 Manfred Saynisch Project Management Innovation Award,

By Mary McKinlay in UK

23rd of August 2012, Lille, France –  On the 22nd of August 2012 at the Research and Innovation Seminar of the International Center for Complex Project Management (ICCPM) held at the SKEMA Business School in Lille,  the audience was delighted to hear an address from Manfred Saynisch updating his work on the New Order of Project Management.

Manfred Saynisch is an award-winning researcher in Project Management, co-author of “Beyond the Frontiers of Traditional Project Management”  and he also announced the establishment of the Manfred Saynisch Project Management Foundation. He has established this to promote research and development of new ideas in PM.  Stephen Hayes, CEO of the ICCPM, emphasised the importance of the work of the Manfred Saynisch Project Management Foundation for the development of ground-breaking advances in project management and their benefits for complex project management.

On the 23rd August  the Winner of the inaugural, 2012 Manfred Saynisch Project Management Innovation Award was announced as Professor Dr Christophe Bredillet. Manfred Saynisch, in his introduction to the award  spoke of Christophe’s  ground breaking research for a philosophy of science promoting  Project Management.

Manfred’s announcement was followed by a laudatory speech given by Dr Louis Klein of the Systemic excellence Group (Berlin). In his speech Louis highlighted the essence of Bredillet’s work as shifting the research focus from the ontological “What is project management?” to the praxeological and consequently more systemic question: “What do we think that project management is and what are the practical implications of this thinking for the project management practice”.

Following this speech, which combined a tribute to the serious work of Christophe Bredillet  with some good humoured references to a Hawaiian shirt, Christophe delivered an erudite and thought –provoking presentation of his research.

From left to right: Manfred Saynisch, Christophe Bredillet, Louis Klein

The inaugural, 2012 Manfred Saynisch Project Management Innovation Award was accredited to Christophe Bredillet. The award winner was, according to Manfred Saynisch, awarded for his ground breaking research for a philosophy of science in favour of Project Management. In his laudatory speech Louis Klein highlighted the essence of Bredillet’s work as shifting the research focus from the ontological “What is project management?” to the praxeological and consequently more systemic question: “What do we think that project management is and what are the practical implications of this thinking for the project management practice”.

The award ceremony took place on the 23rd of August 2012 at the Research and Innovation Seminar of the International Center for Complex Project Management (ICCPM) at the SKEMA Business School of ESC Lille. Stephen Hayes, CEO of the ICCPM, emphasised the importance of the work of the Manfred Saynisch Project Management Foundation for the recognition of ground-breaking advances in project management and their benefits for complex project management. The Manfred Saynisch Project Management Innovation Award shall be awarded on a yearly basis.

Erstmalig wurde in diesem Jahr der Manfred Saynisch Project Management Innovation Award vergeben. Der Preisträger, Christophe Bredillet, wurde, so Manfred Saynisch, für seine bahnbrechenden Forschungen zu einer Wissenschaftsphilosophie des Projektmanagements ausgezeichnet. In seiner Laudatio pointierte Louis Klein Bredellits Arbeiten als den gelungenen Versuch den ontologischen Forschungsfokus des „Was ist Projektmanagement?“ auf die praxeologische und in Konsequens systemischere Frage abzustellen: „Was denken wir, dass Projektmanagement sei, und was sind die Konsequenzen eines solchen Denkens für die Praxis des Projektmanagments?“

Die Preisverleihung fand am 23. August 2012 im Rahmen des Research and Innovation Seminars des International Center for Complex Project Management (ICCPM) and der SKEMA Business School der ESC Lille statt. Stephen Hayes, CEO des ICCPM, betonte die Bedeutung der Manfred Saynisch Project Management Stiftung für die Anerkennung bahnbrechender Fortschritte im Projektmanagement und deren Konsequenzen für das Feld des komplexen Projektmanagments. Der Manfred Saynisch Project Management Innovation Award soll zukünftig in jedem Jahr vergeben.

Text of the laudatory speech by Dr. Louis Klein:

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear cunning project practitioners and knowledgeable scientists,

I met him first on the rooftop terraces of a fancy hotel in Singapore at the ICCPM Knowledge Sharing Forum, a jolly fellow, happy as the day is long. He was wearing a Hawaii shirt and Bermuda shorts and carried a smile of wisdom and amusement overlooking the crowd of high profile project managers and scientists. – I am not quite sure whether my recalling meets the facts in all details, however, this is the image I took away from the scene, an image that for me is now tightly linked to Christophe Bredillet.

A professor now, and Director of the Project Management Academy at Queensland University of Technology, Christophe Bredillet has been around in the field of strategy, programme and project management since 1984. Lately, from September 2010 till November 2011 he worked as a senior expert of the World Bank for an international development programme (capability building) for the government in Senegal.

Before this, from June 1992 to June 2010, he was the provost and& dean, and director of the postgraduate programmes and& studies. As well he was professor and head of the school for “Strategic Management & Project, Programme and Portfolio Management” all here at this very school, the ESC Lille, respectively the SKEMA Business School.

This superb week of shared learning and exchange, we are experiencing right now, dates back to his initiative. Without Christophe Bredillet we would not be here.

Before joining academia, he worked as a consultant for PA Consulting, as International Marketing Director for the Golf division of Salomon, and in Mergers & Acquisitions for Crédit Lyonnais.

Christophe Bredillet knows the trade. He has been Executive Editor of the Project Management Journal (Wiley) since May 2004. He has been member of the International Academic Editorial Board of the International Journal of Managing Projects in Business since 2007, and reviewer for the International Journal of Project Management since 2002.

He is strongly involved in project management professional associations and research networks like:

to mention just a few.

He has been a member of the review committee for PMI from 2000 to 2012, since 2002 for Research Conference, IRNOP, since 2004 for EURAM as Project Management co-track Chair and since 2001 for the Academy of Management Conference .

He founded the Lille PMI Chapter and was its President from 2000 to 2009.

And today it is by far not the first time he is rewarded for his contributions to the field. Since 2002 he has received not less than five research honours and awards.

Impressive all of this, isn’t it. However, this is not why we are going to award him today.

On his website he describes his research activities as:

  • being grounded on situational and praxeological approaches, on ontological pluralism, on constructivist and subjectivist epistemological perspectives.
  • His theoretical grounds include Complexity Theory, new organisational institutionalism and Convention Theory.

This is certainly not what we would call the “mainstream” approach to project management research. And this is not only because this sounds, admittedly, a bit academic and rather complicated.

The virtue of Christophe Bredillet’s work lies on the contrary with his very concern for the reality of practice.

We do not get our heads around project management if we simply ask: What is project management? This would assume that project management possesses ontological qualities like we see it in physical sciences or engineering. Instead we may ask: What do we think that project management is? And if we do so, we come much closer to what Christophe Bredillet calls a complex integrative knowledge field.

What he is promoting is to conceptualise project management as a meta-approach which looks at the different ways to think about project management, their coexistence and the implications out of that.

When Christophe Bredillet writes about of nine schools of project management, for me the image of the jolly fellow in the Hawaiian shirt, and the Bermuda shorts pops up, and there is the image of this knowing smile.

Five, seven and nine always works. That is what I learnt in contact with one of the large management consultancies. And whenever we had a list of eight observations or six bullet points on the Power Point slide it was always easy to come up with the additional one to recreate the odd number. And there is the image of this knowing smile.

Christophe Bredillet’s concern it is not the number or the nature of these different schools of thought, which are so important to the researcher. It is their coexistence, their interplay, and their use in the field which lie at the very heart of his epistemological concern.

The focus is on the practice and the ways this very practice generates knowledge about itself. How does a practice observe itself, and describe itself? How do processes of sense-making and meaning creation promote what we may call a praxeology, and what eventually generates and perpetuates the conventions of project management?

If we look at the research into management practice, we are at the forefront concerned with two challenges. Firstly, how can we use the data that is generated for example by managers or consultants reflecting upon their own activities? This points into the direction of auto-ethnography and puts the question of subjectivity back on stage. Christophe Bredillet likes this and he likes to refer to Michael Polanyi and his epistemological position.

All knowledge is subjective. And as Christophe Bredillet points out, it is not so much the positivistic reductionism looking for objectivity that promises advances. It is the commitment to the complexity and inter-subjectivity of the field that deserves the focus of attention.

I personally like the joke about the second challenge in management sciences, which is the question: How and what can we learn about the discourse resulting from managers talking about books they haven’t read? Scientifically we call this discourse practice analysis. Since whatever is relevant to the practice should be relevant to the research. This changes the perspective in academic research. It is not so interesting what the theory says about the practice as it is interesting to learn about the ways the practice makes use of the theories. And using the word “theory” in its plural is not a mistake. Rather than one big unifying theory we see a lot of different, partially contradictory theories in use in the field. And this is what project management as a science is all about. We may say, leaning towards one of the great thinkers of the 20st century, Forrest Gump: Project management is as project management does.

Christophe Bredillet will, to use the words of Manfred Saynisch, be awarded for his ground breaking research for a philosophy of science in favour of Project Management.

He has developed ambitious and trend-setting scientific requirements for a new perspective and a new approach in PM research in order to meet the
volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous reality of projects and their management.

These requirements were based on inductive knowledge, qualitative paradigm, constructivist epistemology, speculative thoughts and non-traditional logic. They will move beyond the classical management perspective, based on deductive knowledge, quantitative paradigm and positivist epistemology.

Furthermore he proposed an alternative epistemological perspective, both to positivism and constructivism, in which project management can be considered as both an art and a science.

The results of this ground-breaking research were primarily published in the following papers:

 

  • Beyond the positivist mirror: Towards a Project Management “Gnosis“”, at IRNOP VI, 2004
  • The link Research-Practice: A Matter of “Ingenium” – Part 1-3″, in the editorial of PMJ, Sept. 2006 – March 2007
  • Mapping the dynamics of the Project Management – Part 1-5″, in the editorial of PMJ, Dec. 2008 – March 2010
  • Blowing Hot and Cold on Project Management“, in PMJ, June 2010

 

A matter of “Ingenium” it is, I would say, that Christophe Bredillet will now receive the Inaugural, 2012 MSPM Manfred Saynisch Project Management Innovation Award from Manfred Saynisch himself and afterwards we will be rewarded with a journey into Christoph Bredillet’s ingenious thinking, by the award winner himself.

Christophe, congratulations for the award and thank you for leading the path.

About the Author

Mary McKinlay

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary McKinlay is a Trustee and Board Member for both the Association for Project Management (APM) in the UK and the International Centre for Complex Project Management based in Australia.  Following a degree in Systems Engineering, Mary’s career has encompassed working on large multinational projects as well as internal IT projects.  She is a project management practitioner and, after 30 years in aerospace and defence , founded Mary McKinlay Projects Ltd in September 2005.

In 2005, Mary was appointed as an Adjunct Professor of Project Management at Skema in France where she teaches at the Lille and Paris Campuses.  She also works as a Visiting Professor for the EMBA Course in Complex Project Management at Queensland University of Technology in Australia, in addition to working as a teaching fellow at the National Centre for Project Management at the University of Middlesex in the past year.

Her industrial experience has been complemented by work on research programmes, involving collaboration internationally between industry and academics. She has produced many papers and is a frequent conference speaker worldwide.  The job of interesting young people in engineering careers is a passion of hers and she is also a STEM Ambassador with special responsibilities as a Bloodhound Ambassador (Bloodhound SSC project).