Reviews of the Book ‘Effective Complex Project Management’

Just because a blog has a tongue-in-cheek name, doesn’t mean it can’t impart some serious wisdom. Or, at least a good review of some serious wisdom in the case of Herding Cats’ review of the book, “Effective Complex Project Management: An Adaptive Agile Framework for Delivering Business Value.”

The book, available via Amazon, is written by Robert Wysocki. An online blurb about it says the book has these key features:

Demonstrates why program and project managers need a framework that continuously analyzes and adapts to changing conditions to be consistently successful in managing complex projects
Defines the four-quadrant project landscape in order to classify Linear, Incremental, Iterative, Adaptive and Extreme project management model types
Presents an implementation model for defining and transitioning to an effective complex project management environment
Defines a complex project support office and emphasizes meaningful client involvement using a co-manager project team model to increase business value
Glen B. Alleman, writing at Herding Cats, says in his review, “The book is based on an Adaptive Complex Project Framework. The notion, a naive notion, that complexity can be reduced and complex systems should be avoided, is just that notional. In practice complex systems can’t be avoided in any business or technical domain where mission critical systems exist. That is non-trivial systems are complex.”

He explains how it was derived from a 2010 IBM report of 1,541 executives in 60 countries about the preparedness for complex systems work. Capitalizing on Complexity. Alleman, in his review, points out 10 critical success factors from the report. Here are what he considers to be the top 5 in order of importance:

Executive support – if those at the top aren’t willing to support your project, it’s going to be difficult to get help when things start going bad.
User involvement – projects are about users getting their needs met through new capabilities, delivered through technical and operational requirements.
Clear business objectives – if we don’t know what Done looks like in units of measure meaningful to the decision makers, we’ll never recognize Done before we run out of time and money.
Emotional maturity – project work is hard work. If you’re easily offended by blunt questions about where you’re going, how you’re going to get there, assures that when you arrive the product or service will actually work and what evidence there is to show you spend the money wisely – you’re not ready for project work.
Optimizing scope – full functionality can never be foreseen. But a set of needed capabilities must be foreseen if the project is not to turn into a death march.
Others have also spoken up about the book. “Change drives today’s business, it is the only constant. Unfortunately, the processes that businesses use are decades old and built for a time that was much more predictive. Effective Complex Project Management is the first book to define a practical and rigorous yet adaptive solution for addressing rapid change in projects,” said Todd C. Williams, president, eCameron Inc.

Kathleen Hass, project management and business analysis practice leader, consultant, and author of “Managing Complex Projects: A New Model,” says, “Wysocki’s approach is to use an adaptive framework and decision-making tool which includes a robust project management methodology that seamlessly integrates change, and can be applied to all types of projects across industries. This adaptive complex project framework is aligned with the most contemporary principles of innovation, agility, and lean approaches to change, and represents the most advanced thinking in applied complex project management to date.”