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Representing “other strategic work”

in addition to projects in an organisational strategic management context

 

FEATURED PAPER

By Alan Stretton, PhD (Hon)

Sydney, Australia

 



INTRODUCTION

In some recent articles in this journal I have been discussing projects in the context of their contribution to organisational strategic objectives. However, it is important to note that projects are not the only means needed to help achieve strategic outcomes. Other strategic work is also normally required. Together these two are the main components of a strategic initiative, which is described by Cook-Davies 2016:259 described as “…a project, portfolio of projects, other discrete programme or series of actions undertaken to implement or continue the execution of a strategy, or that is otherwise essential for the successful implementation or execution of a strategy”.

Rather naturally, the project management literature tends to focus on the contribution of projects, programs and portfolios of projects/programs to the execution of organisational strategies. It generally has relatively little to say about the other “series of actions” (as depicted in the above quotation) which are usually also needed to achieve the strategic objectives. Some writers (e.g. Buttrick 2016, PMI 2017) simply call this “other work”. I have adopted the terminology other strategic work, which tends to describe its context more precisely.

I first wrote about other strategic work in Stretton 2018g, specifically in the context of the execution stage of strategic initiatives (in addition to projects/programs). However, other strategic work is initiated and developed in earlier strategic management stages, and is also of key importance in the final stage of transition to achievement of business outcomes and realisation of benefits. This somewhat exploratory article will broaden my earlier discussions to embrace these wider contexts.

This article will first discuss the nature and potential magnitude and importance of other strategic work, which can sometimes be very substantial, and occasionally dominant. We will then look at how other strategic work can be seen to develop in parallel with projects/ programs in the organisational strategic management context, except for the transition stage from strategic initiatives to strategic outcomes and benefits, where other strategic work is normally dominant.

This will be followed by discussions on some differing views on how management of other strategic work relates to the project management component, and to organisational strategic management at large. These three are highly intertwined, and we conclude that a broader study of managerial responsibility for the various entities of the organisational strategic management framework could be worthwhile.

THE NATURE AND IMPORTANCE OF OTHER STRATEGIC WORK

I have not found it easy to be all that precise about the nature of other strategic work. To paraphrase Buttrick 2016:367, other strategic work can be very diverse, and the approach to it has to be determined on a strategic-initiative-by-strategic- initiative basis, depending on the context, and the type of work being undertaken.

The best I can do at this stage is to describe other strategic work as additional work, over and above prescribed projects/programs/portfolios, that is usually also required to help progress strategic initiatives and realise strategic benefits.

Types of other strategic work

The literature nominates many types of other strategic work, including

  • Business change (Dalcher 2017, Hudson 2016)
  • Organisational change (Buttrick 2016, Dalcher 2017, Demaria & Sopko 2016, Koch & Lock 2016, Sedlmayer 2016)
  • Education, training, behavioural change (Dalcher 2017, Hudson 2016, PMI 2017)
  • Operational management/changes (Buttrick 2016, Hudson 2016, PMI 2017)
  • Service management, maintenance functions (Buttrick 2016, PMI 2017)

In Stretton 2018g I grouped these into two broad overlapping categories, namely

  • Organisational change, and
  • Transition activities

However, the above is only a small sampling, and there are undoubtedly many more types of other strategic work.

The potential magnitude and/or importance of other strategic work

When I first discussed other strategic work in some detail in Stretton 2018g, I noted that Dalcher 2017 indicated that it could comprise up to 80% of the total investment in realising benefits in an IT system context, and quoted from him as follows:

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How to cite this article: Stretton, A. (2019). Representing “other strategic work” in addition to projects in an organisational strategic management context, PM World Journal, Volume VIII, Issue I (January 2019). Available online at https://pmworldjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/pmwj78-Jan2019-Stretton-representing-other-strategic-work.pdf

 


 
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 200 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/.