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What is a Project Construct?

Project-Construct An orgamatics project construct

The purpose of a project construct is to plan and execute the changes that Org must make to stay relevant. A primary task of such a construct is to reduce uncertainty of a future outcome. To reduce the uncertainty of its future, Org must use a low-risk implementation method. One can reduce the uncertainty of an outcome if one controls the process that creates the change. Such change is beyond the day-to-day operational cycles of Org. It is once-off, and its only goal is to begin, fix, or end a process. Project management method is currently the best way to create such change. It is designed to minimise the risk of exceeding time and resource boundaries. Projects do not mean anything until they are done. Also, to execute a project, Org must take resources from operational processes. Therefore, cost and time are the greatest risks to organisational change. The probability of these risks will increase if there is change that does not contribute to the intent of Org. Therefore, a well-defined project construct will reduce the risk of irrelevant operations. I.e., the aim of a project construct is to keep Org relevant. 

Project management began with the work of Frederick Winslow Taylor's on scientific management. This was in the early 1950's. His theories led to many modern project management tools. Some of these are the work breakdown structure (WBS) and resource allocation. Two students of Taylor were Henry Gantt and Henri Fayol. Gantt later became the father of planning and control techniques. His most renowned model was the Gantt chart. Fayol created the five management functions. These functions form the foundation of the project management body of knowledge (PMBoK).

In orgamatics we still use these project management methods. In fact, we encourage them, especially in fields such as strategy implementation. The difference lies in the way we connect all projects within Org to achieve one outcome. In my post on the 5V Model, I explain how to create a strategic ladder of intent. The 5V model translates a utopian dream (vision) into a series achievable super goals. These goals are achieved through strategic objectives. Each strategic objective becomes a programme. Org will execute these programmes through several projects. That is a project construct.

How to create vision through the 5V Model.

Intent creates the future. It is the nothing that turns into something. It is where everything begins.In my post on

To understand a project construct, one must grasp how it differs from a process construct. From this understanding one can unpack the parts of a project construct. Through understanding its parts, we can create, change, and implement, a project construct. I cover these items in this post.

1. The difference between a project- and a process- construct

 "Life span" embeds the primary difference between a process- and a project- construct. A process construct facilitates permanence. It creates operations and facilitates the performance of Org. The aim of a process construct is to repetitively cycle activity. In so, the process construct will consistently produce outputs. A project construct drives execution. It creates strategy that strives to keep Org relevant. The aim of a project construct is to negotiate an outcome that is favourable to Org. In so, it must ensure that Org carries out its intent at a minimal risk. A project construct is thus a SMART transformation process. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timeous.

The table below gives an idea of how a process- and project construct differs.

Process Construct: Project Construct:
·     Creates operational blueprint.
·     Cycles repetitively without end.
·     Driven by purpose.
·     Strives for efficiency.
·     Creates key performance indicators.
·     Defines operational performance.
·     Increases the process intelligence of Org.
·     Divided into systems.
·     Maintains a status quo.
·     Strives to increase in relevance.
·     Internal focus.
·     Creates strategic blueprint.
·     Begins and ends. Non-repetitive.
·     Driven by intent.
·     Strives for effectiveness.
·     Creates critical success factors for relevance.
·     Defines strategic relevance.
·     Attracts human intellect to Org.
·     Divided into programmes.
·     Creates a status quo.
·     Must be executed, therefore it strives for irrelevance.
·     External focus.

What is a Process Construct?

There are only two ways to do work. One is repetitive, in other words, doing something that we have done before. The other is non-repetitive, which means doing things that we have never done before. When we cycle work it is a process, and when we complete it, it is a project. Repetitive work will maintain things, whilst non-repetitive work will cha...

Depicting the interdependence between a process- and project construct is difficult. Their relationship is dual and not linear. I.e., they co-exist – one directs performance and the other drives relevance. In so, one gives meaning to the other. They each create their own hierarchy, but one is permanent and the other not. The project construct must pollinate the process construct. Its task is to begin, fix, or end a process. Projects will come and go as needed. Unlike that, processes will continue to cycle without an aim to end. The sketch below shows how a project construct interacts with a process construct. The black circles depict a hierarchical structure of the process construct. The top circle is the core process of Org. Its hierarchical branches help us to grasp its complexity. The white circles show the project construct. It leaches onto various processes within the process construct. It temporarily lends resources from the process construct until it has done its task. When executed, a project must return its resources to the process construct. A project is born from a process construct. When its work is done, it will assimilate back into the process construct.

Orgamatics Process / Project Integration

"…do your work, then take your hat…"

Henry David Thoreau

2. The mechanics of a project construct

The task of a project construct is to organise all the non-repetitive activity within Org. Intent creates a need for change. This is because intent is a desire for a reality that does not currently exist. To create a new reality, one must do something that one has never done or does not do enough of. Once the new reality manifests, there will be no further need for change. You have arrived. To stay within this new reality, one must maintain it. To do so, the new change must be internalised into a process construct. I discuss the mechanics of a process construct in an earlier post. Therefore, the first component of a project construct is "intent".

To execute well defined intent, we sub-divide it into a few objectives. E.g., if my intent is to lose weight, then my objectives might be:

(1) to go to the gym four times per week for four months;

(2) to cut starch and sugar from my diet; and

(3) to renegotiate my relationship with food.

Intent is where one wants to go, and objectives are how one will achieve that. Intent differs from objectives in that intent works on a timeline. We use the 5V Model to articulate the evolution of intent. E.g. we want to achieve "X". To get there, we want to achieve "Y" by 2020 and "Z" by 2025, etc. We can execute our objectives at the same time, as with the given example of losing weight.

Objectives must turn into plans, otherwise they are just ideas. To create these plans, we turn every objective into a programme. In turn, to execute a programme, we turn its activities into projects. There is no difference between the construct of a programme and a project. A programme is a high-level work break down structure (WBS), where each action step is a project.

The Structure of an Orgamatics Process Construct

As Org executes its intent, a process construct will assimilate the project construct. I.e., The project construct will disintegrate.

3. Data beyond project flow

Process flow is not enough to create a project construct. Flow will name the needed activity, set priority, and give duration. To work, activity needs data and resources. People, money, and assets will give the energy whilst data gives the intelligence. Other to flow, a programme or process will need the following data:

  • A well-defined goal;
  • A defined outcome;
  • A quantified effect;
  • A risk assessment.

One can add as much data to a programme or project as you need. Yet, it is good practice to view the given list as a core requirement.

4. "Detached" projects

In orgamatics, we promote the idea of "attached" projects. This means that Org aligns all its non-repetitive work to organisational intent. Such work will always take the form of a programme or a project. A key assumption is that the aim of non-repetitive work is to create change. With the orgamatics model, one must align all change initiatives to the intent of Org. We use the 5V Model to define the intent of Org. Theoretically, this makes perfect sense. Yet, in practice there is several projects that one cannot directly link to intent. E.g., upgrading the parking lot or arranging a farewell function. To deal with this, Org must set a tolerance policy in terms of non-repetitive activity. E.g., if a tolerance level is 10%, then only one out of 10 projects can be disconnected from the 5V intent of Org. We call these "Detached Projects".

5. Integrating the project- and process- constructs

The project and process constructs of Org create a receptive / projective duality. Jointly, they express the dual part of Hypothesis 2x. The task of a project construct is to pollinate the process construct. I.e., it must redirect operations with the aim to optimise performance and secure relevance.

Hypothesis 2x on Inverse Duality

Hypothesis 2x opens the study of orgtology. It creates eight core theories; four for orgamatics and four for organamics. Its indirect claim is that an organisation can only exist through relations and relationships. To relate, entities must interact, which implies a cycle of projecting and receiving. This means that there must be an exchange betwee...

The aim of the process / project interdependence is to ease continuity of performance. Through such continuity, Org stays relevant. The basic assumption is that any organisation has a life span. It thus creates a bell curve that depicts a life cycle of birth, peak performance, and death. The same applies to any living entity. The duration of such life cycles depends on many variables.

Growth curve of an organisation

To avoid decline, Org must renew. The project construct drives this needed change. It plans the activity that will keep Org relevant. Therefore, a project construct is a declaration that everything is not working well. In the bell curve above, one can see that Org grows, peak performs at point "A", and then declines. A project construct can work at any of these phases, but it would be best to change at point "A". At this point, change will cause the least resource and intelligence stress to Org. It is quite difficult to do this. In Orgtology, to know when to change is a primary leadership skill.

Keeping the performance of Org relevant.

Org must constantly change at peak performance to stay relevant. "E" is an evolutionary slope. It shows how performance can stay consistent and uninterrupted. This is only possible if Org changes at the right place. "R" shows the points of revolution. At these points of change, projects are born. This is non repetitive activity that aims to keep Org relevant.

The reality is that Org has a myriad of these curves that will change at various times and places. This brings complexity to the project construct. It is for that reason that we link projects to programmes. This makes the project construct manageable.

Whilst writing this post, a colleague, Mr Brightwell Nkambule, pointed to me that the Sigmoid Curve is the best way to grasp the complexity of change . Momentum is lost after peak performance. Yet, to move out of a current performance slope is mostly not a smooth transition. Before Org reaches a plateau, it must begin its change process. It is easiest to change whilst still successful. Org manages this change through a project construct. The sketch below illustrates the Sigmoid Curve.

The Sigmoid Curve

The blue curves show the process construct. This is a depiction of the performance of Org. The red area shows the project construct. In orgamatics, the red area will be where Org executes its strategy. As the two constructs interact, they create a Relevant and Performing Organisation (RPO).

If performance becomes more important than relevance, then relevance will soon become more important than performance. That is the consequence of the duality as explained through Hypothesis 2x.

There are a lot of things that must be in place before we design a project construct. The 5V Model of intent must be crafted. There must be a detailed EOP analysis. I.e., we must grasp the risks, opportunities, efficiency, and dynamics of Org. Leaders must motivate the change. This means that they must create a more compelling future beyond current performance. The list goes on...

The EOP Analysis – redefining how we understand organisations

EOP is an acronym for Exposure, Opportunities, and Process. It replaces the old SWOT analysis. SWOT means Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. As with SWOT, the EOP aims to help us understand a current reality.Although SWOT is a helpful way to prepare for strategy, it has limitations. I discuss the detail in my post:

Vision is a decision to change. The project construct will guide us through this transformation process. It will help us to move from one point to another through scientific method. In so, we reduce the inevitable risks that change will bring.

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© 2019-12-08: Derek Hendrikz

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