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We know both project management and systems, but what does it actually mean to bring the two together and what tools are available to manage projects systemically?
Before I go into these questions, I would like to briefly admit that in my projects, the technical level and the process level were definitely in the foreground at the beginning of my career. Particularly in the rather “shirt-sleeved” logistics industry was at these times only little room for the consideration of “soft facts”.
Only in the course of the steadily increasing complexity and dynamics of projects – especially in extensive transformation initiatives – social and interpersonal levels have been given greater consideration. And this is exactly what the systemic approach is all about.
In systemic project management, the methods of classic project management get enriched with tools of system diagnosis and systemic intervention in order to take into account all relevant levels in project management.
This is done by answering the following questions, among others:
- Which factors can promote, hinder or even cause the project to fail?
- What possibilities are there to increase acceptance for the project in the social environment and among the project participants to strengthen positive factors?
- What are the possible effects of planned measures?
Systemic project management offers a high degree of flexibility and a more comprehensive view to handle all types of projects. In particular, it is suitable for projects that aim at extensive changes in the company.
But what does all this mean for the project manager? He/she may need to expand the toolbox and build up know-how for topics such as:
- Active stakeholder management
- Dealing with and mastering power and power resources
- Recognizing, drawing and independently setting boundaries
- Creating a common framework (“project vision”)
- Introduction and design of social rules
- Early detection and resolution of conflicts
In the following, three exemplary tools are described, which can be used in different phases of the project. All these tools can also be applied in online sessions (using e.g. MS TEAMS) by slightly amending the used instruments. Here though the “conventional way” is shown: