Ideal-seeking Systems Modeling


When you are assigned to manage a global project, it might connect to anyone or any organization in the world. Now what? How can you even get started? Such projects involve lots of things, parts, and relationships. However, the things that are the most complex are those with language, money, and power: that is, people, clients, organizations, and sponsors. For these phenomena, the project management construct is "stakeholders".

From the beginning, you are responsible for knowing what's important to project stakeholders, and then for constructing it. Despite not being able to understand them all, you need to explain things clearly, build teams, correct misunderstandings, and make good decisions, right from the start. This is when global projects are the most challenging and when you have the most impact on business performance. How can you be sure that your impact will be positive?

Since the 1990's, learning organizations, knowledge management, and agile programming have demonstrated their effectiveness in the face of conflict and turbulence at the front end of projects. While all of these are technical management practices, they also incorporate financial and social know-how. What 21st Century project management has learned from them is how to engage stakeholders in the collaborative modeling of values pertinent to project planning and governance. This key competency is ideal-seeking systems modeling.

This course looks at that competency and at relevant project management work products, especially those the PMBOK® Guide calls for early in projects. These are the business case, project charter, stakeholder register, stakeholder engagement plan, and communication plan. The class aims to help participants collaborate with stakeholders in the progressive development and use of these outputs, which PMI® and other project management thought leaders consider essential to defining, engaging, and governing today project communities.


Organizations in any economic sector with

  • project and operations managers
  • project sponsors, program and portfolio managers
  • a PMO (Project Management Office)
  • business trainers, facilitators coaches, instructors
  • members taking PMP® exam Q1 2018 or later


  • None required
  • Recommended
    • background with any recent PMBOK® Guide (e.g. Fourth, Fifth, or Sixth Edition)


    • experience as project manager, sponsor


6 hrs: 1 - 2 Sessions

Class Size

Maximum: 12 Participants


  • Provided: Workbook (c. 30 pages)
  • Recommended (not provided): any recent PMBOK® Guide (Sixth Edition ideally)


  • Continued learning plan re PMBOK® Guide
    • customized during session
    • by individual, team, organization



  • Of Ideal-seeking Systems Theory and Applications
    • Ideal-seeking Systems Concept Family
    • Agile Manifesto and Practice
  • Of Ideal-seeking Systems Influence on 21st Century PMBOK® Guide Constructs
    • Business Value
    • Governance
    • Stakeholder Engagement
    • Project Initiation
    • Leadership
  • Of Class Learning Activities and Tools
  • Of Case Study

Case Study

  • Review collaborative systems models built by case project manager:
    • Model of Performing Organization - PMBOK®Guide Outputs: Project Business Case, Organizational Process Assets (OPA's), Enterprise Environmental Factors (EEF's)
    • Model of Stakeholders - PMBOK® Guide Outputs: Stakeholder Register, Stakeholder Engagement Assessment Matrix and Plan
    • Model of Project Community - PMBOK® Guide Outputs: Project Charter
    • Model of Communication - PMBOK® Guide Outputs: Communication Plan

Capstone Task

  • By collaborative systems practice, develop a project charter modeling the project community of a known key project by declaring concisely:
    • Project Values
    • Project Owners
    • Project Customers
    • Project Environment
    • Project Lifecycle/Governance
    • Project Team

Continued Learning Plan


All Cogent Language courses are built according to a consistent design pattern: they have a learning path that is "cogent" to the needs of participants. We have found that, for our participants, a learning path is cogent when it is constructive, collaborative, cumulative, fast-paced, visual, and personal. Here's what makes this course cogent.


Given case study information, participants role play a project manager using the collaborative systems practice of the PMBOK® Guide to model a global project. Each participant then uses this practice to model performing organization, stakeholders, and project community of a known, key project.


During the case study, participants role play the case project manager as a team. In the capstone task, each participant conducts a walk-thru of the developed charter with one or more coworkers simulating project sponsor(s) or other stakeholders.


In this course, the main learning activities are not topics presented by the instructor - they are tasks participants do. Each task builds on previous tasks and topics. In the case study, participants incorporate the work of teammates. In the capstone task, individual participants develop a project charter incorporating prior modeling of stakeholders and business case.


In order to frame, address, and relate the topics in the ambitious agenda above, the course moves quickly. For follow up by individuals and/or teams, the workbook provides references to PMBOK® Guide and to ideal-seeking systems modeling resources.


Explanations and task work for the course are scaffolded by diagrams, tables, and other structural models in the class workbook and in the presentation of the instructor. Class assignments make extensive use of sketching and whiteboards.


For each group, the facilitator customizes agenda and interactions. As a capstone task, each participant selects a project that s/he considers important. She then models performing organization, stakeholders, and project community, assisted by coaching and group interaction. Group size is kept small so individuals can benefit from coaching. At the end of the course, each participant can develop a continued learning plan to bridge any gaps in her knowledge by way of a templates in the workbook, including references to specific sections of PMBOK® Guide and other sources of collaborative systems modeling competence.