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Samer el Barakeh was born in Lebanon, 1973. He completed his Bachelor in Engineering-CCE at Beirut Arab University-Lebanon in 1996 with honours. Samer was granted Masters Degree in Project Management (MPM) from the University of Sydney-Australia with honours. He also gained the Project Management Professional (PMP) Credential from The Project Management Institute (PMI). Samer is a member of the Order of Architects and Engineers in Lebanon since 1996, The Project Management Institute (PMI), Arabian Gulf Chapter (AGC-PMI) and Lebanon Chapter-PMI. During his 13 years of professional experience in Lebanon, Australia and Saudi Arabia, Samer held many positions among them: Telecommunication Site Engineer, Site Manager, Low Current Service Head, and he is currently Senior Systems Analyst at the General Project Construction Division. Samer is a Project Management Consultant and Training Provider for universal organizations like Business Management Consultants (USA) and PMCTQuest (Canada) Samer is a Registered Training Provider for Project Management Professional (PMP), and he provides training in Program Management, Portfolio Management,PMO...
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May 28, 2007

System Thinking: Archetypes at work!

This posting represents a hypothetical example occurring in a construction organization।It demonstrates how system thinking facilitates problem solving when they both integrate to augment organisational learning.
Problem Statement: loss of resources is encountered due to rework and lack of coordination with stakeholders। Impact on profitability and team morality is evident; projects encounter more scope creep and schedule slippage।
Organisational Response: based on discussions, formal meetings, analysis and the like, PMO recommended more communication and early involvement with stakeholders by establishing multi-organisational teams during the early project phases। Perform team building processes to augment rapport and improve productivity (PMGT6869, 2004; Padilla, 2005; Schwartz, 2003)। Teams to recommend alterations to designs and project plans during initiation, then review progress execution reports among all parties with ‘fresh eyes’ to proactively identify problems and recommend actions।
Outcome: problems are now early identified, reduced rework, stakeholders’ committed to solving problems, increased profitability and enhanced project teams’ morality।

Unanticipated feedback Loop: Unethical behavior of some members that were building relationships with stakeholders for personal benefits (Flynn, 2003; Brigley, 1995)। The archetype in figure below captures the problem situation (Wolstenholme, 2003)

Problem Archetype adopted from Wolstenholme, 2003

Solution to decrease impact of UC feedback loop: Applying system thinking approach to look at the big picture and problem context (PMGT6869, 2005)। A suggested solution archetype was developed to undermine the effect of Unintended Consequence feedback loop as shown below (Wolstenholme, 2003)

Solution Archetype adopted from Wolstenholme, 2003

Recommended Actions:

Learning from this experience: Future developments/proposals/solutions to proactively respond to prospective UC feedbacks.
In conclusion, the above mentioned actions were optimum। Applying them reduced the risks associated with this situation and enhanced desired results from multi-organisational teams’ establishment।


Project Managers relocated before Proper Project Closure and Learning Lessons

The project manager, as an organizational resource will not be assigned to another project unless authorized by the Steering Committee that integrate specific criteria in such decision, including proper closure of the current project and capturing Lessons Learned.
Portfolio and Programme management provide some guidelines to such decisions. If we consider, as examples, the need of a qualified experienced PM in an ongoing project or the call for a quick initiation of project recently won in a bid, we can conclude that it is a matter of strategic organizational priorities.

I believe that the Learning Process is of equal importance throughout the project lifecycle and not only at the end. Lessons captured as we go are fed back into the ongoing project to improve productivity and realign. An example to that is the estimation process
(Estimate >> perform >> assess >> learn >> update buffer >> to estimate again), (PMGT6869, 2004). Unfortunately, more pressure comes upon on the learning process during initiation, planning and execution where the team is overwhelmed with performing and maintaining project within boundaries (STCQ) in the changing environment.

Another consideration, to be factored in, is that benefit realization plans mainly focus on “external client-related” project deliverables as bounded in the Business Case with less weight on internal benefits associated with learning. I have experienced many such cases in my organization.

The solution to the above mentioned issues is Knowledge Management (establishment, explicit formalization, planning and integration into the organizational culture) where learning lessons won’t be an ad-hoc mannered activity that can simply be “missed” if the PM is released from the project.

Finally, and to avoid reinventing the wheels, organizations should use previously tested blocks and available frameworks that can be tailored to our needs. In this regards, incorporating processes and practices from the AS, PMBoK, or other AIPM models should be supportive to improve organizational maturity in “learning”.


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