Major project risk management: Reconciling complexity during delivery with the inside view in planning

Paul Chapman and Cuong Quang, 2021

This article from the Sa├»d┬áBusiness School (SBS) in Oxford investigates the literature on major projects, colloqualised recently as “megaprojects”. Based on a quantitative analysis of past research papers, they found that the “inside view” and complexity are rarely jointly considered as reasons for project failure or misaligning with goals. The inside view is a catch-all management term for various cognitive biases and human tendencies which lead to inconsistent approaches to making project management decisions. These biases are usually the result of being commited to the project, and having sentimental attachments to or valuations of it. Complexity is a straightforward term, but its pejorative use here implies that successful megaproject planning requires highly distilled goals and design principles – additions and tack-on modificaitons are not worth the exponential complexity and unknowns they introduce.

This paper is an interesting insight into the world of management studies and communicates two commonsensical points in a highly superfluous way. Firstly, that outsider perspectives are incredibly valuable and secondly, because no plan survives contact, reducing down your goals for any organisation or organised effort to their bare minimum is more conducive to completion and success than unnecessary complexity.

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