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The Mindsets Required for the Complex Project Leader

October 30, 01:40 pm - 02:20 pm AEST

Ever since humans have been managing projects, we’ve had challenges keeping projects on track to meet the planned performance measures of time, cost, scope and quality. The introduction of project controls, systems, processes and governance have all played a part to improve this performance over the years. However, along came the Digital/Information Age that brought with it a new delivery context. It removed the boundaries of communication with the introduction of social media; it has escalated the need for numerous interactions to satisfy the requirements of governance and multiple stakeholders; it has introduced artificial intelligence and machine learning for many analytical/repetitive tasks and has brought with it transformational change through complex technology solutions. Our new delivery context has many new attributes but there are two key components that have not changed – our tools and techniques for delivering projects and the leadership that was derived from the bureaucratic mindsets of the same era – the Industrial Age.

The Problem
We are changing our delivery context far quicker than our deeply entrenched leadership mindsets, tools and techniques can adapt. During an IBM study conducted in 2010, over 1,500 CEO’s from 60 countries and 33 industries concluded that ‘…..today's business environment is volatile, uncertain and increasingly complex. Eight in ten CEOs expect their environment to grow significantly more complex but only 49 percent believe their organisations are equipped to deal with it successfully - the largest leadership challenge identified in eight years of research.’ 13 years on from this study and our delivery context has changed significantly more than previously predicted. Statistics seen in the ‘PMI Pulse of the Profession’ publications show a consistent failure rate of projects over the past 13 years. Here we are now in 2023 what tools systems and mindsets have been introduced during the last 13 years to assist us to lead complex projects?

About this Presentation
Complex projects are not only here to say but are increasing. PM’s are generally not trained to manage these types of projects. This presentation will:

Define complexity and characteristics of complex projects (using the Cynefin Framework).
Introduce new mindsets to the project community:
o Emphasis on data to inform decision making,
o People interactions over process,
o Systems thinking approaches,
o Development of hybrid project delivery methods,
o Use of complexity tools and techniques,
o Integrating project and business systems, and
o Embracing AI.

Senior Manager Epmo, Unitywater
Principal Advisor, Unitywater
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