Dynamic States of Project Purpose: Transitions From Customer Needs to Project Requirements - Implications for Adaptive Management

Michael Whelton1 & Glenn Ballard2

1Ph.D. Candidate, Engineering & Project Management Program, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, USA, mwhelton@uclink4.berkeley.edu
2Associate Adjunct Professor, Engineering & Project Management Program, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, USA, ballard@ce.berkeley.edu

Abstract

The primary goal of the project definition process is to define the customer’s project purpose. Without properly understanding what customers are trying to achieve, designs are not likely to meet those needs. Purpose is a term to signify intent and is the primary driver in value generation. Developing project purposes is a dynamic process and changes to purpose occur throughout the course of project definition. Customer and stakeholder needs transition through various states of definition and various levels of commitment by stakeholders. We propose that purpose emerges from collaborative group interaction i.e. it is considered to be an emergent product of the group creation process. This paper is particularly centered on project managers and the way they dynamically manage changing purposes in the early phase of project definition. The research advocates the use of an adaptive management framework to manage such dynamic complexity. We seek to explore adaptive management techniques that steer the dynamic nature of purpose creation and change. Facilitation for group learning is a prime attribute of management capability in this phase. The conceptual framework is comprised of facilitative management actions supporting the transition of purpose from need to requirement. Based on this framework, a set of linguistic constructs are developed to support the management of the project definition conversation.

Keywords

Adaptive management, customer needs, emergence, project definition, purpose, requirements, value generation.

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Reference

Whelton, M. & Ballard, G. 2003, 'Dynamic States of Project Purpose: Transitions From Customer Needs to Project Requirements - Implications for Adaptive Management' In:, 11th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Virginia, USA, 1-.

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