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Sustainability and Success

SERIES ARTICLE

Advances in Project Management

By Prof Darren Dalcher

Director, National Centre for Project Management

University of Hertfordshire

UK
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Introduction to the December PMWJ Article by Dr Göran Brulin and Dr. Lennart Svensson

Many articles and conference presentations touch on the notion of project failure, promising to improve on past statistics. Indeed, we are developing a growing understanding of the core causes that underpin failure; but is this growing understanding both necessary and sufficient to deliver success?

Part of the answer depends on when we measure success. Success is clearly a relative term that is context- and viewpoint- dependent. It is also time-dependent as the view of a success, or failure, of a system or artifact may vary with time.

But there is also an essential contradiction. Projects are designed to deliver a product, or artifact as an end point. Delivery and handover can thus be viewed as a successful result of a project. Yet, this may lead to deeper questions about the nature of project management. Is project management simply concerned with the creation of something that did not previously exist, or does it go deeper and look at the need to make a difference, achieve an outcome, or deliver promised benefits?

If we accept the former, we have a project management that is focused on delivery. If we delve into the latter we are obliged to adopt a longer-term position, one that extends beyond delivery of a project into the benefit realisation and investment cycles.

Society has also become increasingly engaged with the concept of sustainability as it becomes increasingly obvious that the competitive race to accumulate profits has depleted resources and challenged environments. The short-term focus of projects, which encourages immediate exploitation to deliver identified targets, thus stands in direct contradiction to need to adopt a responsible stance and consider the impact on future generations. Indeed, we might even contend that projects, with their inherent race towards success, contradict the notion of sustainability. As we engage in more and more projects, we may forget to take a strategic view or ignore the long-term perspective. The more rapid the results, and the smaller the cycle of delivery, the less time we have for developing holistic thinking patterns and considering the longer term impact of our decisions and actions…

More…

To read entire article (click here)

Editor’s note: The PMWJ Advances in Project Management series includes articles by authors of program and project management books published by Gower in the UK.  Each month an introduction to the current article is provided by series editor Prof Darren Dalcher, who is also the editor of the Gower Advances in Project Management series of books on new and emerging concepts in PM.  Prof Dalcher’s article is an introduction to the invited paper this month in the PMWJ by Gower authors Dr Göran Brulin and Dr. Lennart Svensson on the subject of “Sustainable Change in Large Projects.”  Information about the Gower series can be found at http://www.gowerpublishing.com/advancesinprojectmanagement.

About the Author

Darren Dalcher, PhD

Author, Series Editor

Director, National Centre for Project Management

University of Hertfordshire

UK

Darren Dalcher, Ph.D. HonFAPM, FRSA, FBCS, CITP, FCMI is Professor of Project Management at the University of Hertfordshire, and founder and Director of the National Centre for Project Management (NCPM) in the UK.  He has been named by the Association for Project Management (APM) as one of the top 10 “movers and shapers” in project management in 2008 and was voted Project Magazine’s “Academic of the Year” for his contribution in “integrating and weaving academic work with practice”. Following industrial and consultancy experience in managing IT projects, Professor Dalcher gained his PhD in Software Engineering from King’s College, University of London.  Professor Dalcher has written over 150 papers and book chapters on project management and software engineering. He is Editor-in-Chief of Software Process Improvement and Practice, an international journal focusing on capability, maturity, growth and improvement. He is the editor of the book series, Advances in Project Management, published by Gower Publishing of a new companion series Fundamentals of Project Management.  Heavily involved in a variety of research projects and subjects, Professor Dalcher has built a reputation as leader and innovator in the areas of practice-based education and reflection in project management. He works with many major industrial and commercial organisations and government bodies in the UK and beyond.  He is an Honorary Fellow of the APM, a Chartered Fellow of the British Computer Society, a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, and the Royal Society of Arts, and a Member of the Project Management Institute (PMI), the Academy of Management, the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the Association for Computing Machinery. He is a Chartered IT Practitioner. He is a Member of the PMI Advisory Board responsible for the prestigious David I. Cleland project management award and of the APM Professional Development Board.  Prof Dalcher is an academic editorial advisor for the PM World Journal.  He can be contacted at [email protected].