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Project and process management

Complexify and broaden your situation

· team,to-sort

In a networked world, project-management mindset is not enough.
You need a process-managerial mindset for aligning actors, finding out what the best solution in such dynamic world.

No right solution
With project-based mindset, you zero-in the problem then select the right solution.
With process-based mindset knows there is no right solution.
Many different actors may have very different views on what the right problem definition is.

Broaden the problem definition
Define the problems as broadly as possible.
The more precisely you define a problem, the more likely it is that there will be opposition and that others will accuse you of being narrow-minded.
The more broadly you define a problem, the more likely it is that others will find it sufficiently attractive to work with you.

Broaden your objectives
Something similar applies to objectives.
People with a project-managerial mindset like to have clear goals, because they provide direction.
But what is the risk of having well-defined goals in a networked world?

  • You lack resilience and are unable to adapt to changing circumstances.
  • You cannot learn – in the course of the multi-issue process,

Unexpected opportunities may emerge that may also be attractive.
If you have a pre-defined goal and are single-mindedly focused on achieving that goal, you will not see the opportunity and will not seize it.
It is strategically clumsy to be very explicit about your goals.
It can make you less adept at playing the game.
The clearer you are about your goals, the easier you make it for your opponents to block these goals.

Gathering information
In the project-based mindset, your goals determine which information you gather.
Engineers often adopt a need-to-know approach to this – you need the information that helps you to achieve your goals and the rest is information overload.
In the process-based mindset, the attitude to gathering information is often very different.
You need to take account of a large number of actors and any information about these actors and their problems can be of interest – especially if you wish to design a multi-issue game.
In fact, unnecessary information does not exist.
The more you know about the players, the better you can play the game.
And there is more here.
Someone with project-managerial DNA searches for the right, objective information.
With a process-based mindset, you know that problems are unstructured and that a lot of information is contested.
The question is therefore not, or not only, what the objective information is.
It is not possible to remove the many uncertainties with information alone – after all, that is often contested.
The question is how to get the parties involved to such a stage that they see the uncertainties as a shared problem.

Join forces to manage these uncertainties
Make the process attractive.
When the process is attractive, has a perspective of gain, actors will be willing to work together in managing uncertainties.
By ensuring that there is something in it for them – by means of a multi-issue game.
Then the solution can be designed by refining the information.
In the project-based mindset, the solution arises from problems, goals and information.

  • First, there is a problem,
  • Then we try to find a solution.

In the process-based mindset, that is often different.

  • There is a solution
  • Then try to find problems.

Someone has a solution that he or she wishes to achieve.

In the project-management mindset, you

  1. have analyzed problems
  2. set goals
  3. collected information
  4. designed a solution
  5. then time comes for decision-making: the go/no go moment.

In the process-management mindset

  • the difference between decision-making and the other stages in the process is not so clear-cut.
  • because of the multi-issue game, decision-making is actually a continuous process.
  • The decision is not made, it emerges.

Anyone with a project-management mindset also knows a large number of tools and techniques that are effective in a project.
The rule of thumb is: tools that are effective in a project do not work in a process.
Take a simple tool: a deadline.
In a project, a deadline is an incentive to achieve something on time.
But in a networked world, opponents have no benefit of respecting such deadline.

What makes you successful as a leader?
What are the evaluation criteria for good leadership in a networked world?
The criteria for success in a project-management mindset are often threefold:

  1. Have you achieved your goals?
  2. Have you done it on time and on budget?

Of course, these criteria are not appropriate for a process, in a networked world.

  1. are you satisfied with what you have achieved? You may have something different from what you were originally looking for – and the question is therefore not or not exclusively whether you have achieved your original goals.
  2. is there a trust among the other parties and have good relationships emerged with them? Remember that, in an interdependent, networked world, you will encounter these other parties again and you are dependent on the other parties. If you have gained a lot but the other parties are highly disappointed – that can be extremely damaging in future processes.
  3. have you learned something? If, through interaction with multiple parties and by means of a multi-issue change process, you achieve what you wanted at the outset, you have probably learned nothing. Other parties can block your initiative but other parties and other issues can also improve your initiative. Then you will have learned something.