Model-based Management in Major/Megaprojects (IPMA)

Michael Frahm
30 October 2020

Presentation given to IPMA:
Megaprojects are complex organizational structures that have a great influence on their parent organizations as well as on their environment. In order to be able to design and steer these complex systems, a suitable focus is necessary. This is provided by the approach to organizational viability. Viability expresses that large and megaprojects are to be designed in such a way that there is sufficient capacity to function effectively as an organisation "internally" and with its environment "externally", and to be sufficiently adaptable. This requires bringing order and balance to the supposed chaos between the system elements, so that the project can couple itself and its environment. The Conant-Ashby Theorem, also known as the Good Regulator, states 'Every good regulator of a system must be a model of that system'. This means that management of an organization can only be as good as the model on which it is based. A suitable model for organizational design, governance integration and complexity management is Stafford Beer's Viable System Model (VSM). It is an effective model for designing, analysing and managing complex systems and thus for large and mega projects. This is also the conclusion reached by a group of experts led by Professor Mike Bourne of Cranfield University, who, on behalf of APM, have drawn up a recommendation for the British government to implement project management in large-scale projects, the core of which is the VSM. 

This presentation gives an insight into using VSM for analysing a real world major- and megaproject in the construction phase at several organizational levels. For example, by decrypting the DNA of the recursion levels from the mother company to programme, project and subproject Levels, a deep understanding of the organization is possible and can be offered.