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A Conceptual Framework for Adaptive Project Management in the Department of Defense

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Conference Paper

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Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems Arlington United States

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Over the past 60 years, the conceptual framework defining project management has remained relatively unchanged despite a consistently poor success rate. The prescriptive, plan-based process has withstood several challenges because logically, it should work. In the past 10 years, the subject of complexity has received considerable attention from researchers. At the same time, project management is receiving attention from a fresh perspective. In the past, research focused on attempting to understand the underlying reasons for poor results. That has turned around with recent research focusing on project management success. Research has uncovered a set of traits found in consistently successful project managers indicating that successful managers approach project planning and execution from a different perspective than is taught in traditional project management curriculums. These successful project managers are able to adapt and adjust during execution to keep the effort progressing. This adaptive style of project management consistently performs well for highly complex environments, but it requires a perspective accompanied by skills that are not usually taught in traditional project management training curriculums. The purpose of this paper is to identify the characteristics of an adaptive project management framework and outline how those skills can be taught in the DoD acquisition environment.


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