Monthly Archives: April 2017

Leading teams in uncertain environments, part 2

Опубликовано: April 27, 2017 в 21:00


Категории: Insights

Project classifications attempt to address the interaction between complexity and uncertainty and the impact that this interaction has on project management. In this week’s post, I aim to build on last week’s post about managing and leading teams within uncertain times. Some people conclude that managing projects is about ‘managing risks.’ And unpacking the definition of risk is to be examined, through the consideration of the factors that contribute to risk and uncertainty as well as the difference between risk and uncertainty in project management. And it was a shred of evidence that team management, for a project is best done when the project leader is transformational. Since projects involve people, an extra attention needs to be dedicated, which management theory may not take into consideration. More so, it can be said that a transformational leader, who manages a project, will be more effective during decision-making project phase. The decision-making process is very crucial and requires professionals who are competent in dealing with risk and uncertainties. From a project management perspective, risk and uncertainty are words that are used interchangeably. Well, this is wrong, as the risk does not equate to uncertainty, and to help get a proper picture of what is risk and uncertainties, David (2015) defined risk as project “uncertainties that matter” because for a very project, one may detail millions of risks. However, some of them may not be tangible. Although, from the millions of the hypothetical uncertainties, a project manager creates a risk register for those that are more tangible.

Besides, with the analogy, one may conclude that all risk are uncertainties, but not all uncertainties are risky. John (2013) provided a clearer definition, by stating risk are part of project elements, one can assign a probability. While uncertainties one cannot add probability to an exact degree. Marle and Vidal (2010) research paper, provided the cluster approach to managing risk. And the methodology helped show the comparisons that exist among possibilities when combining risk in a project, by utilizing the several indicators. One of the ways to determine the highest possibilities or create the decision tree is using the payoff table, maximize, minimize regret, and expected value as John (2013) stated. The evaluation of risk and uncertainties should not just focus on managing project treats. Zwikael and Ahn (2010) study found that the effectiveness of project risk management practices impacts project success. “Although risk levels, reduce project performance, effective risk management planning was considered too moderate this relationship.

As a result, we sometimes face high-risk projects that are completed more successfully than projects with low levels of perceived risk. This study also found that environmental context determines the standard of perceived project risk. Specifically, we found that the perceived level of risk, and hence risk management planning, are lower in countries characterized by low levels of uncertainty avoidance (e.g., Japan) in cultural diversity terms, and in industries with immature project management practices (e.g., production).” The mentioned, relates to the statement above, and correlates to the post from last week, on factors that increase the success of projects. One needs a leader who is a strategic manager, in this case, a transformational leader, or termed by Krane, Olsson, and Rolstadås (2012) as a super project manager. The super project manager can apply the risk management tools, to influence the impact it has on a project outcome explicitly by evaluating the uncertainty that matters. Since the uncertainties that matter determine, the super project managers can influence the project outcome by exploring the opportunities and threats.

And this is done in a timely fashion, given an effective management of risk does not stop and preventing potential issues. However, exploring how the risk could be of importance to the project, i.e. helps make things work better. Since, some risk may occur that helps save project timeline, budget or resources. For example, the future risk that may impact a project such as oil price decline. A project that was estimated a year ago may be cheaper now because the expensive resources are now more competitive, and a project manager can afford to have multiple resources on the project shrinking the timeline and seen as risk opportunities. So, in conclusion, a project manager will be evaluating any risk that affects the project objective i.e. those beneficial and those that are of no advantage to a project. There are various risk management strategies as seen in the different publication (ACRON, nd; Fink, 2014; Mignan at al., 2014; Cárdenas at. El., 2014); however, risk can have a negative or positive impact on a project. However, to maximize the evaluation of risk, a super project manager is needed who has a clear view of risk from all perspective.



Further Reading

ACRON (nd) Tools and technique for project management [Online] Available from: id=5659f5cf5e9d977cd08b4575&assetKey=AS%3A300835612446729%401448736207649 [Accessed: February 19, 2016]

Cárdenas, I, Al­Jibouri, S, Halman, J, Linde, W, & Kaalberg, F (2014), ‘Using Prior Risk­ Related Knowledge to Support Risk Management Decisions: Lessons Learnt from a Tunneling Project’, Risk Analysis: An International Journal, 34, 10, pp. 1923­1943, SPORTDiscus with Full Text, [Online] Available from: [Accessed: February 19, 2016]

David H., (2015) New concepts in project risk management: Bahrain 2015 [Online Video] Available from: [Accessed: February 19, 2016]

Fink, Dieter, Dr. (2014) Project Risk Governance. Farnham, GB: GowerProQuest ebrary. Web. 18 February 2016.

John N., (2013) ACCA F5 Risk + Uncertainty [Online Video] Available from: [Accessed: February 19, 2016]

Krane, H.P., Olsson, N.O. & Rolstadås, A. (2012) ‘How project manager–project owner interaction can work within and influence project risk management’, Project Management Journal, 43 (2), pp. 54­67.

Mignan, A, Landtwing, D, Kaestli, P, Mena, B, & Wiemer, S (2015), Induced seismicity risk analysis of the 2006 Basel, Switzerland, Enhanced Geothermal System Project; influence of uncertainties on risk mitigation, Geothermics, 53, pp.



Leading teams in uncertain environments part 1

Опубликовано: April 20, 2017 в 21:10


Категории: Insights

And to illustrate how a leader might change his/her approach, using an example from experience, with the use of Kelley’s (1988) “followership styles to compare and contrast my example.” To fully understand the content, it is essential to point out the difference between leadership and management. They are both used interchangeably, which causes an ineffective application of the framework. I will term effective leadership as an individual, who can lead himself/herself first and inspire people or organizations to be in a position of advantage. i.e. to produce a better service or product, which satisfies consumers, generating value for all stakeholders. While management can be defined as people, who use the act of communication, in achieving the goal of an organization, with careful consideration of resources available to them.

Usually, it focuses on what needs to be done and does not pay attention to how it is being done. For this reason, one may state that a project manager can be a leader and a manager. However, our current environment requires a professional, who is not just competent in his/her field but also is a leader. Given, prepping and executing a project necessitates an environment, which is conducive for all stakeholders, this calls for constant change that can only be completed by a leader who can transform the situation of the environment. Thus, one will require transformational leadership as Dvir (2002) defined, which is why the personalities of stakeholders should be taken into consideration when planning or managing a project. Andrew (2005) stated, different personality types for individuals, some who focus on high details, who do not settle for less till a task meets all requirements. Some are relation oriented, i.e. these individuals are result oriented, and they create plans only when there is substantial evidence.

More so, because of cultural, religious, ethnic, national characteristics, political differences… etc. The leaders need to adjust their actions to interact with different types of followers to improve the chances of project success. Divir (2002) research shows that transformational form of leadership promotes homogeneity among direct and indirect followers. Also, it is said that it increases the performance and effectiveness within the organization because people are motivated and they feel empowered. For example, over the years when managing projects, my resources are spread around the world and are attributed to ‘globalization.’ The form of leadership when managing a project depends on the group of individuals. i.e. high context and low context cultures. When dealing with high-context people, I tend to spend more time in explaining briefs and other project requirements.  One may conclude that high-context, demographics are prone to vulnerability, such as communication issues since it is said that this context group prefers indirect communication. However, when I’m dealing with resources with low-context culture, I can be direct with my communication to a significant degree (Brett, 2011). Although, given that these two sets of cultures must work together for a project success, I often find ways of bringing these two research cultures into ‘partnership.’

This affirms Kelley’s (1988) statement, on how the role of a leader is to help educate followers to be effective. However, the writer went further to explain; followers should also learn the need to cover for an ineffective leader, through the expression of their skills (Andy, 2016). Since in some instances, the leader ‘project manager’ may be weak not by choice, but by the lack of understanding of issues like the cultural differences. More so, as Kelley (1988) mentioned, these effective followers in some instances “think for themselves and carry out their duties and assignments with energy and assertiveness.” The writer suggested that this type of individuals are independent to solve problems and are risk takers, one may consider the low context culture individuals to fit this profile. However, high-context culture in some instances could be said to be alienated followers because they are critical in thinking and are independent, although can be found to be passive when conducting their role. For this reason, when these sets of resources are working on a project, they quickly get turned off and may lead to opposition to the leader. For this reason, as Meredith and Mantel (2014) stated in Chapter 4, a project manager should understand this behavior and adapt to situations at hand. Also, this is useful during a negotiation and creates a high performing team (Cohen, and Keren, 2013; 50 Lessons, 2005).

Further Reading

Andy M., (2016) Cultural Differences Are More Complicated than What Country You’re From [Online] Available from: complicated-than-what-country-youre-from [Accessed: February 11, 2016]

Brett R., (2011) Cultural Differences ­ High Context versus Low Context[Online] Available from: differences-high-context-versus-low-context.html [Accessed: February 11, 2016]

Cohen, Y., Ornoy, H. & Keren, B. (2013) ‘MBTI personality types of project managers and their success: a field survey’, Project Management Journal, 44 (3), pp. 78-87. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: February 11, 2016]

Dvir, T., Eden, D., Avolio, B.J. & Shamir, B. (2002) ‘Impact of transformational leadership on follower development and performance: a field experiment’, Academy of Management Journal, 45 (4), pp. 735-744. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: February 11, 2016]

50 Lessons (2005) Creating a High-Performance Team [Media]. Nashua, NH: SkillSoft. [Accessed: February 11, 2016]

Meredith, J.R. & Mantel, S.J. (2014). Project management – a managerial approach. 9th ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Kelley, R.E. (1988) In praise of followers. Harvard Business Review, 66 (6), pp. 142-148. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: February 11, 2016]

Critical Project Success Factors: planning, risk management, and top management support

Опубликовано: April 13, 2017 в 21:12


Категории: Insights

Shenhar (2001) stated because the theory of project management is still in its infancy, the common conclusion by numerous authors, suggests projects are basically same “one­-size-­fits-­all.” And this causes firms, to bid for projects with the intent of completing them for profit, and this is not the case. Ghosh et al. (2012) mentioned, only a total of 23% of projects that are initiated are completed, especially in the Information System and Information Technology (IS/IT) sectors. The massive failure is attributed to multiple factors, which includes incompetency of project owners, insufficient resources, as Wang and Li (2009) stated. The lack of proper system criteria, which organizations used to determine to “bid/no-­bid” i.e., which project that needs to be brought into the company. As it is widely seen that most groups, usually bid for every project, without the index system to determine if the project is right for the organization. The failure to have this system in place causes companies to win bids, without having the right resources to execute the project, which will, in turn, tarnish the reputation of the company, because they will be unable to deliver. More so, in an instance where the resources are available, all projects cannot be executed at the same time. This is another aspect that organizations do not take into consideration when making commitments to their clients. This will, in turn, lead to unsatisfied internal and external stakeholders. For external stakeholders, the project’s deadline will be moved several times. For internal stakeholders, they are forced to work overtime, which reduces the job satisfaction of employees. For example, if multiple IT projects are won, this results in a significant project ‘portfolio.’ The clients will request a delivery date around the same time, and for the benefits of making more money or losing the customer to competitors. Firms are forced to make commitments, which realistically is unattainable. For the mentioned reasons, one will need to select, plan and execute projects strategically. After all, a strategy is written for an organization to perform better, why not employ a similar methodology in ensuring that projects are successful.

The mentioned starts by identifying three critical success factors for a project, and beginning with ‘effective planning.’ This is the ‘Plan’ referred here and termed as ‘project strategy,’ as Patanakul and Shenhar (2012) mentioned. This is not the same as the traditional project management theories, which focuse on planning the development of techniques, procedures, and tools that are said to guarantee project success. One can see projects, which followed the traditional approach carefully, still, produce a disappointing outcome as Williams (2005) recorded. And that said, it is easy to incorporate strategy into the field of project management for one will be building on the traditional model that Shenhar, Levy, and Dvir, (1997) mentioned guarantees the success of a project. The ‘planning’ using project strategy, mainly focuses on how to win. This is seen as the perspective (P), position (P), and guideline (G) i.e. perspective=why? position=what? And guideline=how? A project can be implemented, offering the best competitive advantage and value. The mentioned could be termed as porters five forces, for project management because of the relation of competitive advantage and value. The PPG should be used at every stage of a traditional project management, which includes selecting projects from a portfolio based on priority and availability of the resource for each project. More so, the initialization phase, because at this phase one could question the why, what, and how, which will help determine the actual strategy that will guarantee a project’s success (Patanakul and Shenhar, 2012).

However, as establishing the above, the vast majority of projects fail, as another critical success factors of a project is risk management. Turner and Müller (2003) raised three features of a project and how they create three ‘pressures’ on projects. The pressures are said to be the uncertainties; no one is confident of the outcome or the beneficial changes a project may require. i.e. a project is a living being, it grows, gets sick and may die. More so, the pressures demand integration of the resources that are involved in the project, amidst multiple parts in a project, and into the business. Also, it urges the project to be subjected to urgency, i.e. attain the outcomes within the intended timeline. The mentioned project pressures show the associated risk, but not limited to the stated above. Then the project manager, who in principle, should be able to manage the risk that is created by the three pressures associated with projects effectively. However, Turner and Müller (2003) affirm that for this to be possible, the project manager should be seen as a temporary CFO of a temporary organization. This does not become possible, without the buy­in of top management support, and classified as the third critical success factor for a project. The lack of top management support will usually put projects in danger. Since management is generally focused on the internal organizational goals, which are aligned to make profit. And in some instances, Moe (1995) recorded that a project is allocated to stakeholders, based on political favours and not competency. The structure of choice, for project managers, should not be bureaucratic. However, project managers should be assigned to projects based on core competencies and will not be possible without the support of top management. In conclusion, the role of a competent project manager is to ensure the three critical success factors of a project are implemented (Meredith and Mantel, 2014).

Further Reading:

Ghosh et al. (2012) ‘Enhance PMBOK® by comparing it with P2M, ICB, PRINCE2, APM and Scrum Project Management Standards‘, PM World Today, 14 (1), pp. 1­77. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: January 8, 2016]

Moe TM, (1995). The politics of structural choice: towards a theory of public bureaucracy. In: Williamson OE, editor. Organization theory: from Chester Barnard to the present and beyond, expanded edition. New York: Oxford University Press;. p. 116–53

Meredith, J.R. & Mantel, S.J. (2014) Project management – a managerial approach. 9th ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Patanakul, P. & Shenhar, A.J. (2012) ‘What project strategy really is: the fundamental building block in strategic project management’, Project Management Journal, (43) 1, pp. 4­ 20. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: January 15, 2016]

Shenhar, A.J. (2001) ‘One size does not fit all projects: exploring classical contingency domains’, Management Science 47 (3), pp. 394­414. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: January 15, 2016]

Shenhar, A.J. (2001) ‘One size does not fit all projects: exploring classical contingency domains’, Management Science 47 (3), pp. 394­414. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: January 15, 2016]

Shenhar, A. J., Levy, O., & Dvir, D. (1997). Mapping the dimension of project success. Project Management Journal, 28(2), 5–13. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: January 15, 2016]

Turner, J. R. & Müller, R. (2003) ‘On the nature of the project as a temporary organization’, International Journal of Project Management, 21(1), pp. 1­8. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: January 15, 2016]

Williams, T. (2005). Assessing and moving on from the dominant project management discourse in the light of project overruns. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, 52(4), 497–508. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: January 15, 2016]

Wang, J., Xu, Y. & Li, Z. (2009) ‘Research on project selection system of pre­evaluation of engineering design project bidding’. International Journal of Project Management, 27 (6), pp. 584­599. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: January 15, 2016]

Measuring innovation using X-ray Tool

Опубликовано: April 7, 2017 в 21:20


Категории: Insights

However, through the close examination of ‘attributes’ of innovation as detailed by Gamal, Salah, and Elrayyes (2011), one may conclude that innovation is mainly a creator of value, which in turn generates profit. Then it makes logical sense, to measure innovation through the value chain of creating the idea, its conversation and then finally through the diffusion stage. This enables the organization to view innovation from an end-to-end view, including from a commercial perspective. The commercial benefits are examined from the initial stage, which could be scanning for opportunities, creating knowledge, building on the information gathered, and selling the innovation. Since company success is measured by the return on investment (ROI), measuring innovation can be difficult or ineffective because ROI will be a resistance because it is focused on short-run investment. While for innovation to be successful, it requires a long-term investment from an organization (Morris, 2008).

And since cash flow and net present value, are what board members and external stakeholders use in examining the success of an organization, managers and leaders are mostly scared to invest for the long term. Since they are afraid that the investment risk is high and the organization does not have the time it takes for investment. For example, at Coca-Cola, they use stage­gate as a means of measuring innovation to counter this fear according to Doug. When an individual comes up with a great idea, they do not fund the project 100 percent or give the department all the required resources. However, they release the funds gradually, in an effort not to mix the innovation with Coca Cola’s main business operations. Thus, the department gains autonomy and can concentrate on delivering without focusing on the quick win. And when the new department has made progress for a minimum of 18 months, when examined, then if the innovation can be sustainable, it is absorbed into the main business of Coca-Cola (Doug, 2014).

From my evaluation, the mentioned model can be used in measuring innovation to a certain degree. Although, an element that relates to innovation’s output is not examined. And can be derived, when quantitative questions are asked, in an attempt to determine innovation’s capacity. Starting by determining the ability to innovate in an organization i.e. can the company create, imagine and lead/ design change for the future. And in examining the mentioned, innovation x­ray can be used as a tool for measurement. These are measured from three perspectives, and starting with the talent. Talent is seen first since innovation is about people and their distinct abilities. For example, the exploration of the type of innovators, the numbers of innovators and the department they fit within in an organization. Also, at this stage, the organization can determine if a resource needs the training to achieve an innovative goal or an increase in the talent required. More so, the innovation work behavior is the second dimension, which is set to measure the way people react to innovation. By asking questions that relate to how employees work; are they resisting or are they proactive to an innovative engagement? Thus, this leads to the third dimension about evaluating the cooperative practices and policies that can affect innovation, which can be derived by asking the necessary questions from stakeholders. For example, are stakeholders confident with change, is the proposed change too risky and does the current organizational culture hinder innovation because of bureaucracy that employees face. The suggested matrix is mostly focused on people, and this is because they are the most affected by innovation since people are the main contributors (Como, 2012).

The mentioned questions are asked in a qualitative manner because this allows employees to respond without the fear of repercussions for the feedback they provided. When questions can be answered, the organization can re-evaluate using the set of questions over time. In the future, or after a while, the company will see improvement in the responses that are provided by the respondents. Since the organization utilizes the feedback derived in the first instance for its advantage and constant improvement of its operations. Thus, the organization can witness the growth or decrease in the organization’s level of innovation. However, this can be complicated and time-consuming when generating feedback from employees. Thus, an alternative for measuring innovation from a quantitative view can be seen during portfolio management. Since innovation can be easily measured by asking leaders to compare portfolios. And the ones with the highest ranking of 8/10 can be termed to be extremely effective innovation methods to adopt (Tom, 2012).


Doug B, (2014), Coca Cola ­ Measuring innovation [Online] Available: [Accessed: July 15, 2015]

Como C. L., (2012) How to Measure Innovation [Online] Available: [Accessed: July 15, 2015]

Gamal, D., Salah, T. & Elrayyes, N. (2011) How to measure organization innovativeness? An overview of innovation measurement frameworks and innovation audit/management tools [Online] Giza: Egypt Innovate. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: July 15, 2015]

Morris, L. (2008) The innovation process and how to measure it [Online] Walnut Creek:InnovationLabs LLC. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: July 15, 2015]

Tom P., (2012) STRATEGY: Measure Innovation [Online] Available: [Accessed: July 15, 2015]