COMPLEXITY MANAGEMENT AS A SUCCESS FACTOR

WHAT MAKES DIFFICULT PROJECTS SO DIFFICULT? OFTEN A NUMBER OF FACTORS THAT OCCUR SIMULTANEOUSLY AND ALSO INFLUENCE EACH OTHER. WE CALL THIS COMPLEXITY. ONLY THOSE WHO UNDERSTAND HOW TO MASTER THIS COMPLEXITY CAN MAKE DIFFICULT PROJECTS A SUCCESS.
THE CHALLENGE

Projects are under time pressure and project members from a wide variety of departments who do not normally work directly together are increasingly required to ensure their success. The competition is getting tougher and the demands of customers are increasing. Budgets are limited, there is not enough capacity and experience, and the deadlines are overly ambitious. Technological complexity has to be managed as well as legal requirements. These are just a few aspects that make projects of today more and more complex. And yet, a company often cannot afford to fail. Reason enough for us at Tangram Strategy Consulting to dedicate ourselves to the topic of complexity management: How do you systematically reduce the complexity of projects in order to make them “manageable” again?

OUR APPROACH TO REDUCING COMPLEXITY

At Tangram Strategy Consulting we pay great attention to complexity management. For the successful management of large, difficult projects, it is essential to actively manage and reduce complexity. We do this in four steps:

The first step is to identify all complexity drivers. This can be done using structured interviews with clients and stakeholders. It is important to clearly name the complexity drivers in order to avoid overlapping terms from the outset.

The next step is to gain an (initial) understanding of the causal relationships. With a correspondingly large amount of project experience, a first draft can already be created and prepared for discussion in workshops. The decisive factor here is that complexity drivers not only have a clear effect on project complexity, but also influence each other. It is often precisely these hidden causal relationships that lead to individual complexity drivers receiving too little attention. On this basis, the impact of the complexity drivers can be deducted.

It is also important to consider controllability, i.e. what control you have over a complexity driver. For example, a toxic culture is very difficult to control in the short term (although there are good countermeasures here too), while an incorrect project organization can usually be addressed quickly. On this basis, a complexity matrix can be set up in the third step, which can be divided into four fields (see schematic representation).

In the fourth step, we at Tangram Strategy Consulting assign clear complexity management strategies to the individual fields of the matrix in our projects. Similar to classic risk management, these are also subject to regular reportings to our clients.

These relatively simple complexity management measures have enabled us at Tangram Strategy Consulting to successfully complete even the most difficult turnaround projects. We therefore see a central success factor of project management in suitable complexity management.

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