Reinventing Project Management
The Adaptive Diamond Approach

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The Myth and Reality of Project Management

Presented by Aaron J. Shenhar

Many project teams today realize that they need to develop their own solutions on top of the standard techniques in order to cope with their project’s dynamic changes, uncertainty, or complexity. In fact, research shows that the conventional approach to project management provides the basic, although necessary, guidelines for managing projects; yet they are not enough to guarantee a project’s success. We will present the current myths, on which the traditional guidelines are based and contrast them with the dynamic realities of today’s projects.

The traditional approach to project management is based on a predictable, fixed, relatively simple, and certain model. It is also often decoupled from changes in the market, technology, or business environment. However, only few projects today are fixed, certain, or simple. Rather, they are unpredictable, changing, and involve a great deal of uncertainty and complexity. We will offer a new model to deal with such projects in a highly flexible and adaptive way. We will also show that this model can be easily applied on top of the current organizational processes to increase the chances of project success. These ideas formed the motivation for the book: Reinventing Project Management: The Diamond Approach to Successful Growth and Innovation, by Aaron Shenhar and Dov Dvir, Harvard Business School Press, 2007

Making Project Management the Company’s Next Competitive Asset
A One Day Seminar
Presented by Aaron J. Shenhar

While companies were focusing during recent years on cost-cutting initiatives such as, six sigma, they often ignored their project activity. Yet even the leaders of efficiency are starting to realize that there is a limit to how much you can improve and that additional cost-cutting can no longer provide sustainable competitiveness. The real source for future growth, are the company’s new initiatives and change, and those involve projects. Projects are the engines that drive innovation from idea to commercialization and the drivers that make organizations better, stronger, and more competitive. It is time to recognize that the only way organizations can change, implement a strategy, innovate, or gain competitive advantage is through projects.
Ironically, however, many projects today still fail to achieve their expectations; they either do not meet time and budget goals, do not deliver their business objectives, or both. This creates a tremendous opportunity for companies for increased competitiveness and growth. The unexploited potential for improvement in projects is high and the gains can be great.
Most project problems today are not technical but managerial. When technical errors cause projects to fail, it is usually management that failed to put the right system in place so that these errors will be detected in time. Executives must learn how to ask the right questions and foresee danger before they make a commitment to a project and before it is too late; they must understand that different kinds of innovations need different kinds of projects; and they must implement company-wide initiatives to turn project management into their next competitive asset.
The objective of this workshop is to guide the leadership team on how to turn project management into a substantial competitive asset for the company. It will show that the current techniques used in project management are insufficient to guarantee success and it will present an industry-proven, research based, highly adaptive and strategic project management framework that can be easily implemented on top of the existing company processes.
· Why well-managed projects often fail
· The new flexible and adaptive approach
· Building the success-focused business-oriented project management framework
· How to create competitive advantage and value with each project

The workshop will involve half a day of lectures, case studies, and discussions, followed by team exercises on company projects and potential initiatives that can be readily implemented in the company.

Advanced Project Management Course Syllabus (a short version; full version is in teaching materials)

Background and course objectives:

No business enterprise can survive if it is focused only on improving its operations. Projects are the engines that drive innovations from idea to commercialization. But projects are also the drivers that make organizations better, stronger, and more efficient. Research has shown that a great many projects fail to produce the expected results or are not completed on time or on budget.

You may think that projects fail because of poor planning, lack of communication, or inadequate resources; but as the evidence suggests, failure is often found even in well-managed projects that are run by experienced managers and supported by highly regarded organizations. Most project problems are not technical but managerial. Such problems stem from the mind-set and the assumptions that drive the traditional approach to project management, rather than from a lack of process or practice.

This course presents a new model, the adaptive and flexible project management model. The model considers the strategic as well as the tactical aspects of project performance in the short term and the long term. To address differences among projects, a diamond-shaped framework is offered to help managers distinguish among projects according to four dimensions: novelty, technology, complexity, and pace (NTCP). The diamond is designed to provide a disciplined tool for analyzing the expected benefits and risks of a project and developing a set of rules and behaviors for each project type. The diamond analysis is also helpful in assessing a project in midcourse, identifying possible gaps in a troubled project, and selecting corrective actions to put the project back on track.

Once adopted, the new model will enable its users in planning and execution of projects and will focus the attention on more than just meeting time and budget goals, but rather on meeting or even exceeding business goals.

Topics covered:

Why traditional project management is not enough?
How to define project success?
Adaptive Project Management (the Diamond Model)
The four bases of project management:
How to manage product and business innovation
How markets and industries affect project management
How to manage organizational change
How to introduce the Diamond Model to manage your next project