Tip #2 Seek to change any rules that inhibit project success
Many organizations have, over time, developed sets of rules by which their employees operate. These rules are many and varied. They could involve simple rules about, for instance, how frequently project managers are required to report project status to sponsors and senior managers. Or they might involve more complicated rules about steps that need to be followed in order to hire outside contractors.
Most of these rules have evolved over time and have a purpose for their existence. In some instances those purposes have long since been eclipsed by changing circumstances, but no one has bothered changing the rules accordingly. These “legacy rules” have usually been developed to reasonably address issues that have arisen during the course of traditional (linear, deterministic) projects. But the management of complex projects may require a re-examination of these rules that will cause some to be changed and others to be dismissed entirely. A good example of this rules that have been developed, as noted above, around contracting practices for work that is to be done outside of the organization. Most companies have developed rules or guidelines around this particular issue. In many medium to large sized organizations, centralized contracting or purchasing organizations have been formed to provide the benefits of, among others, economies of scale. In doing so, for instance, use of specific contract types (e.g. fixed price, time and materials) may be prescribed or proscribed. It’s quite possible that, due to the uncertainties associated with complex projects, some existing rules may impede rather than aid the project’s success. Last year I had the pleasure of meeting a remarkable young woman who had successfully managed the design and construction of a large (£650 million +) media site in the UK. She related that for much of the start of the project, the construction management organization and its contractors worked without any formal contracts in place, something not readily permitted by the rules of most organizations but which was necessitated by the short timelines imposed on the project. So if you run into rules that don’t appear to be helping you in managing your complex projects, question their applicability and seek to find other ways of accomplishing what your project requires.