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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).