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What System Theory Tells Us about Project Management

If systems theory tells us anything about project management, it is that project management is never one-dimensional. In an article for PM Hut, Girish Deshpande takes us on a tour of this abstract and complex theory of interrelationships and their effects. Hopefully, this article will impact how you view project management, thus improving your management practice and in turn, contributing to positive trends for your team and/or organization. Deshpande’s article can be broken down into six key components.

Six Tenants of Systems Theory

I. The properties of a complex system are the properties of a whole. The more complex the properties of the system, the more unpredictable the system will be.

II. Breaking a system into parts destroys certain properties of the system that need to be analyzed.

III. Individual parts aren’t the root cause of problems in a system. Relationships between parts are the source of both problems and benefits.

IV. Changing one element in a system always brings about side effects.

V. Once equilibrium is reached in a complex system, the constituent parts (if not altered) will conspire to resist change:

The systems theory tells us that…complex systems [will try]to reach a state of equilibrium and then resist any significant change. This is due to the fact that the parts are connected and their connections define system properties. But when [a]change occurs it can be sudden and dramatic. With complex systems the effect may not be proportional to the cause. Many times, a small change in a key part introduces dramatic effects in the whole system. We [have all]read about chaos theory- The flap of butterfly wings in a rain forest causing hurricanes in the US.

VI. Some causes are manifest in delayed effects. A time lag may occur between an action and its resultant reaction.

Read the original article at: http://www.pmhut.com/what-system-theory-tells-us-about-project-management

About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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