Some existing guidelines for managing “non-traditional” projects


By Alan Stretton

Sydney, Australia



Although we have many guidelines for managing projects in the forms of bodies of knowledge, competency standards etc, (traditional guidelines), these generally do not cover anything like the whole range of project-related processes, or of project types.

With regard to types of projects, traditional guidelines appear to be most relevant to projects which have relatively low complexity levels. In Stretton 2017c I discussed differences some writers have made between complicated and complex programs/ projects, particularly associating elements of uncertainty with the latter. Traditional guidelines are relevant to complicated projects, but only up to a point, as increasing numbers of components, with near-exponential levels of interconnectedness, create their own distinctive type of complexity.

There is substantial agreement in the broader PM literature that traditional guidelines are simply inadequate for complex programs/projects, particularly large ones. However, there are some guidelines for such programs/projects (which I will call “non-traditional” projects) in the wider program/project management literature, and this article will be looking at some of these.


Turner & Cochrane’s goals-and-methods matrix

Turner & Cochrane 1993 were concerned with two types of uncertainty dimensions, namely those associated with project goals, and/or methods of achieving them. They developed a goals-and-methods matrix in an article subtitled “Coping with projects with ill-defined goals and/or methods of achieving them” (i.e. at the start of the project), which is illustrated in Figure 1 below.

It can be seen that Turner & Cochrane’s matrix results in four types of projects, which are described as follows.

  • Type 1 – Both goals and methods are initially well defined
  • Type 2 – Goals are initially well defined, but methods of achieving them are not
  • Type 3 – Goals are not initially well defined, but the methods are
  • Type 4 – Neither the goals, nor the methods of achieving them, are well defined


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Editor’s note: Alan Stretton, PhD (Hon), Life Fellow of AIPM (Australia), is a pioneer in the field of professional project management and one of the most widely recognized voices in the practice of program and project management.   Long retired, Alan is still tackling some of the most challenging research and writing assignments; he is a frequent contributor to the PM World Journal. See his author profile below.


About the Author

Alan Stretton, PhD

Faculty Corps, University of Management
and Technology, Arlington, VA (USA)
Life Fellow, AIPM (Australia)


Alan Stretton is one of the pioneers of modern project management. He is currently a member of the Faculty Corps for the University of Management & Technology (UMT), USA. In 2006 he retired from a position as Adjunct Professor of Project Management in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), Australia, which he joined in 1988 to develop and deliver a Master of Project Management program.   Prior to joining UTS, Mr. Stretton worked in the building and construction industries in Australia, New Zealand and the USA for some 38 years, which included the project management of construction, R&D, introduction of information and control systems, internal management education programs and organizational change projects. He has degrees in Civil Engineering (BE, Tasmania) and Mathematics (MA, Oxford), and an honorary PhD in strategy, programme and project management (ESC, Lille, France). Alan was Chairman of the Standards (PMBOK) Committee of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) from late 1989 to early 1992. He held a similar position with the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM), and was elected a Life Fellow of AIPM in 1996. He was a member of the Core Working Group in the development of the Australian National Competency Standards for Project Management. He has published over 180 professional articles and papers. Alan can be contacted at [email protected].

To see more works by Alan Stretton, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/alan-stretton/.