Center for Study of Projects
What is the Center for Study of Projects (CSP)?
The Center for Study of Projects (CSP) is an institution for extracting value for society out of learning from experiences of execution of real projects. It is a social initiative that is supposed to create value for the greater society.
Why do we need CSP?
Almost all organizations need to run projects. Some organizations run projects to achieve their goals. Others execute or deliver projects for other organizations and make a living out of it. These two variants of organizations are on the practice side of project management.
On the other hand, organizations like PMI (Project Management Institute) and others study the theoretical side of project management and define the rules that govern projects. These are the standard-bearer organizations. They work on the theory side of project management.
These two types of organizations (practice vs. theory) complete the traditional model of theory & practice of the project management subject-area. However, in today’s world, we are realizing the importance of learning, which is a feedback that loops output from practice into both practice (and eventually also into theory). While the process of learning has been applied to project management, the application has mostly-been at department or organizational level. No organization is pursuing this goal of learning from practice at an industry-wide level or global level. The Center for the Study of Projects has been created to fill in this gap.
What comes to your mind when I say “Malaysian Airline”? My bet (if you have any inclination towards news) is “MH777”, the flight that disappeared in mid-flight, to be never found. Yes, they’ve found some pieces of the aircraft that has floated far off to the African coast. But, the point is that Malaysian 777 disappeared in mid-flight and no one knows why?
Why is that so odd?
Because we always find out where a plane crashes and almost always find out why it crashed. At least that has been the case for many decades. Finding the remains of a crashed aircraft provides some form of closure to the family of those on the fateful flight. And finding why a certain plane crashed lets us learn from them and apply those learnings so that no future airline crash could happen because of the same reason. It helps make air-travel safer.
While it might be odd to say, but it also must be mentioned that, safer also means cheaper. There is an economic benefit to safety. If air-travel wasn’t safer, it may not have been viable to operate airlines at a scale at which we operate now – a lot of people would have definitely been scared away. So, effects of lower economies of scale would have impacted. Plus, airlines would not have got as many trips out of each aircraft, and that would have meant more price per ticket.
So, airline crash investigations make air travel both safer and economic, largely due to the continuous learning process. What makes project execution and delivery more economic and efficient through a learning process?
You may say lessons learned sessions. If so, I have these questions for you –
What do you think generally happens to these lessons learned during the sessions?
When you initiate a project, how often do you go through the lessons learned archives?
How helpful do you find these lessons to be applied to your project?
In case a different organization had executed a similar project in the past, how often can you learn the lessons those people gathered?
How often do you share lessons from your organization with people outside of your organization?
I can give you the answers to these questions… and in most cases, the answer is:
Lessons gathered in the lessons learned sessions are just archived away never to be seen again.
We almost always never check lessons learned from past projects – because they are hard to find, projects are unique and what happened in the past does not apply to this one etc.
Even if you find them, the lessons learned are not very helpful as there is no standard to capturing the lessons learned, the context of the lessons may have been lost as no one can explain the full details etc.
And I bet you rarely share any of the lessons you gathered for others to use.
The issue is that we do not have a systemic way of capturing lessons out of our project planning and execution experiences and we do not do it at a scale where it can be beneficial. Even though organizations practice collection learnings, information gets lost with time and within departments. In addition, whatever learnings are gained within organizations, very small amount of it gets shared with the wider world, and thus we fail to build a holistic picture of the dynamics of projects and how we can better control them.
The solution to this problem is to build and develop a common center for gathering project information and deriving learnings from them. There are a few advantages of having a common center:
A common center can study projects from the whole universe of available projects – without any limitation to geography, industry, technology etc.
A common center can learn from these studies to continuously improve the methods and tools of collecting data, reviewing and processing data, and generating learnings and conclusions.
A common center can share the results of the studies as well as best practices on doing these studies for all human race to be able to use this information to help in better planning and execution of projects.
The objectives for the Center for Project Learnings can be divided into five key areas:
Development of Case Studies
Development of Project Inventory
Identification of Past Projects for Review
Collection of data for identified Projects
Study of data from identified Projects
Preparation of project learnings reports for Study Projects
Preparation of project review reports for Study Projects
Generation of Learnings and Conclusions
Development of Knowledgebase from ongoing study of projects
Derivation of Learnings and Conclusions the developed knowledgebase
Development of project behavioral and control models based on Knowledgebase, Learnings and Conclusions
What is the relationship between CSP and Inceptone Inc.?
Inceptone Inc. is a for-profit corporation that provides project consultancy/management services to businesses to ensure that projects are delivered successfully and efficiently and best return can be provided for any project investment made by the business’s shareholders. Inceptone Inc. focusses on the short-term goal of fixing individual projects, or organizations to better project delivery.
Center for Study of Projects (CSP) on the other hand focuses on bringing knowledge out of Project Execution experiences within businesses and non-for-profit organizations to the wider society so that this knowledge could lead to better project execution in the future. CSP focusses on the long-term goal of better project execution at the global scale – across geographic boundaries, across cultures, across all organization types – to bring benefits to humanity.
CSP is an initiative that started within Inceptone Inc. when we realized the significance of project learning and the potential of benefit to society. As of this writing, CSP remains an entity within Inceptone Inc. However, with sufficient structure and proper traction, we plan to spin it off as an independent organization.