Peter Drucker Forum 2013: “Project Management, Systems Thinking & Complexity” panel discussion

Project management panel discussion

Project Management, Systems Thinking & Complexity Panel discussion led by Johan Roos, SE, Dean and Managing Director Jönköping International Business School, on the second day of the 5th Global Peter Drucker Forum.

Johan Roos is joined by speaker, Dr. Terry Cooke-Davies, the Chair of Human Systems International, Philip R. Diab (JO) Chair, Board of Directors, Project Management Institute and David Hurst (UK) Owner at DKH Productions.

Phil: In projects the biggest areas of unpredictability are the knowledge workers. The more complex the project, the more we need knowledge workers. Good project managers ask the “what” and “how” questions. Great project managers ask the “why” question.

David: Corporate projects have been used by corporate oppression. Through experience in difficult contexts in the industry I have seen that leaders are developed by hardship and a common goal.

“You can’t herd cats, but they will hunt together!”

Terry: Our ability to develop and execute projects has not improved over the past 100 years. Humans have an ability to make things up and adapt as they go along, due to this ability, we don’t do all the calculations to begin with. The Olympic Games are a typical example of people underestimating the costs of projects.


Check all post conference material here.

David: How long is the coast line of the UK?  This is almost impossible to fully answer in an accurate manner, because it is related to how precisely you measure. A strategic plan is designed at a certain scale from a macro viewpoint and once you get into the detail (like a coastline) the dimensions change.

Phil: Complexity sometimes arises, because you seemingly have simple problems yet it is the multitude of the issues that cause the problem. Qatar is facing this problem when organizing the World Cup.

Terry: It is the nature of man to try to control, but nature always responds with chaos. Leadership requires that we identify the challenges and ensure that everyone is doing the right things towards the common goal and not ducking the issues.

David: It is very difficult to tell people what to do because it is contextual.

Terry: The project leader and manager have to decide which information is communicated, that is not always easy. Many of the predictive tools are rational but we live in a non-rational world and defining the wrong content will lead to people being disappointed.

project management panel discussion

Phil: It is important to understand the context in which you work. The Middle East context is very different because systems and processes do not exist. This brings in very different constraints. As project leaders we need to find ways to get around complexity which requires speaking truth to power.

David: There is nothing as practical as a good theory. In that sense we have been working with the wrong assumption of human nature as we often assume that we are being rational yet were are in actual fact rationalizing. In the corporate world the rationality is a cloak for power and in some companies speaking the truth is not necessarily a safe thing to do.

We have got the notion of rationality backwards and therefore need to change behavior patterns. We need to revise our philosophical ideas to what it means to be human.

Terry: You need to understand where your project sits from slow and simple to fast and complex. You should know your people and how they work. If you do not you will not know if they are able to do what you require of them.


Access all GlobalEd conference articles here.


Conference panelists
cookedaviesterry_170pxTerry Cooke-Davies (UK)

Chair of Human Systems International

Dr. Terry Cooke-Davies has been a luminary in the field of project management for decades. Having worked on project management benchmarking, the former Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency’s Managing Successful Programmes initiative, PMI’s OPM3 initiative, and ‘Rethinking Project management’, a UK based research network supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences research Council (EPSRC), Cooke-Davies now works to use academic research to improve corporate project management. In addition, he researches the roles and significance of project management, project sponsors and complexity theory.

diabphilip_170pxPhilip R. Diab (JO)

2008 Chair, Board of Directors, Project Management Institute

Philip Diab has extensive global experience in the professional consulting, financial services and insurance, retail, information technology and training sectors of business and industry. Mr. Diab recently joined Booz Allen Hamilton where he is responsible for project portfolio leadership and business/market development.  Prior to this role, Philip lead a consulting practice focused on helping organizations in the areas of strategy and implementation. He provided executive consulting, coaching, and training/facilitation to leading global organizations. He also has advised public and private organizations on management, organizational change, corporate mergers and executive oversight. A compelling speaker, Mr. Diab energizes audiences, large and small, by using real-life business examples from his progressively responsible positions with significant organizations like IBM Corporation and the Project Management Institute (PMI) in the United States as well as building and growing a successful global consultancy. This hands-on world-wide experience allows Mr. Diab to provide direct inspiration and ideas that can be used across industries to build a better business. Mr. Diab is a recognized leader in Project Management with specific expertise in strategy transformation, PMO, and alignment.

hurstdavid_170pxDavid Hurst (UK)

Owner, DKH Productions

David Hurst is a speaker, writer and management educator.  He spent twenty-five years working in several countries in organizations undergoing radical change. He became Executive Vice-President of a large industrial distribution company during a tumultuous period when he, as part of a senior management team, saved the organization from bankruptcy during a severe business recession.

roosjohan_170pxJohan Roos, SE

Dean and Managing Director Jönköping International Business SchoolDr. Johan Roos is Dean and Managing Director of Jönköping International Business School (JIBS), where he also holds a professorship in strategy. He has two decades of work experience abroad as an internationally recognized scholar, and adviser in the field of strategy, innovation, and change. From 2009 to March 2011 he served as the President of Copenhagen Business School. Prior to his engagement at CBS, he held the endowed Bo Rydin and SCA Professor chair in strategy at the Stockholm School of Economics 2007-2009.

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Filed under Business, Corporate Behavior, Corporate strategy, Economics, Higher Education, Innovation, Leadership, Management, Peter Drucker Forum, Strategy

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