Why Collaborative Systems Practice?

A Practice for VUCA Times and Projects 

Tough Times 

Our times are tough.  "Volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous" – conventional wisdom was saying. And that was before COVID and Ukraine. 

VUCA Project Responsibilities

Guiding projects to successful completion is at all times a challenge.  In our VUCA times, it is a mess of wicked problems.  Especially for those of us with project responsibilities that are themselves VUCA.

 The keys to handling VUCA project responsibilities in VUCA times ? Building trust, addressing risk, nurturing teams, and innovating. Sure, but that is an awful lot to do, especially when you are really really busy.  And when new project approaches, materials, and certifications come and go day by day. 

Project Wisdom: Collaborative Systems Practice (CSP)

 It is true – project knowledge does change day by day. However, for doing projects, one wisdom, one practical philosophy has long since proven itself. And it keeps doing so, day by day. This is the practice of project management as building things, understood as systems, by collegial groups, in ways the groups understand as systemic.  This is project management as collaborative systems practice (CSP). 

Already proven itself? Long before collaborative, agile, or VUCA became buzz words in projects and business, there were Quality Circles in Japan, participatory design in Scandanavia, Chris Alexander's Pattern Language in Berkeley, and the soft systems methods of Silicon Valley, like interactive meetings and visual facilitation.  Not to mention classic "waterfall" project management, the one that got human beings to the moon and back. All these practices see and do project work precisely as building things, things understood as systems, by collegial groups, in ways understood as systemic.   

Many consider "waterfall" project management "of the past".  Although CSP could be said to have been built the pyramids, it is not of the past.  Far from it. Driving the evolution of project work through "lean", "agile","hybrid", and "design thinking", it has continued to demonstrate relevance and power. In our VUCA times, it has also demonstrated its potential for building compassion and social justice via "human-centered design", "collaborative design" and "Co-design", as examples.  

CSP then is project management practice that tends to "work" and to keep on working. That is, it tends to make for better projects, better products, and, sometimes, a better world. It does so precisely by its capacity to build trust, address risk, nurture diverse groups, and to innovate.