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How to improve project management in dynamic environments

Even when there are not any problems or difficult situations to handle, projects with dynamic environments could present an almost impossible challenge for unprepared managers.

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For project managers around the world, managing difficult situations might be an everyday adventure that needs different approaches and solutions to find out the best way to get out of a problem or complex task. However, when these situations arise in dynamic project environments, they can be harder and much more complex to resolve.

Even when there are not any problems or difficult situations to handle, projects with dynamic environments could present an almost impossible challenge for unprepared managers. That’s why we have prepared a great article to show you how to correctly handle a dynamic project environment in order to get the best out of every situation and avoid making mistakes in managing the project as a whole.

Outcomes and strategies

One of the first steps to take is to know the possible outcomes and challenges of every situation or problems that can result from managing a dynamic project environment. These can be many. However, there are certainly the ones are the most common and general problems which have a bigger and more complex outreach. These are:

  • Uncertain outcomes
  • Lack of flexibility, reliability and accountability
  • Questionable decisions in a short-time manner thinking
  • Lack of scope in rapid changes

Depending on the kind of project the manager is in charge of, all of these outcomes can be resolved with different approaches. However, it is pertinent to know the kind of project that is being faced by the manager to eventually have a great strategy to fight against the situation that occurs in a dynamic environment. These strategies are:

  • Learning strategy: There are projects which are being carried out in uncertainties. It means that every outcome is not known and thus they would need a ‘learning’ strategy to be held out and eventually end up in a good outcome. This kind of approach demands skills like scanning, intellectual flexibility and problem-solving from the manager. It is used to create better decisions with speed by giving up definite scopes and risking for more uncertainty.
  • Instructionism strategy: Often faced with less flexibility and more practicality. This kind of project environment needs an approach that could be followed in previously analyzed outcomes and endings. It is often used in well-known environments, but can be used with uncertain outcomes. These strategies are designed to create a better-trusted outcome with a definite scope and avoid uncertainties on previously studied environments. Doesn’t work against uncertainties or rapid changes.
  • Selectionism strategy: This is often referred to as the most efficient strategy which offers a better scope and more reliability in a dynamic environment. These strategies are often very well thought and planned in order to avoid lack of scope and accountability, using previously analyzed strategies and outcomes. Mostly used against rapid changes but no uncertainties.
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These strategies depend on different approaches and every one of them has a different outcome and scope. All of them are used in different environments, but they can actually be used together, depending on the ability of the manager and the general scope of the project.

Even when there are not any problems or difficult situations to handle, projects with dynamic environments could present an almost impossible challenge for unprepared managers. (Source)

Approaches

This guide for dynamic environment managing is used as a whole and involves other approaches which are taken in order to avoid uncertainties, lack of scope and to make better decisions with speed without losing reliability, accountability, and flexibility. They can be used together or be seen as a whole new strategy which depends on the following steps:

  • Environment manipulation: This is often used to maintain control and avoid uncertainties in highly changing environments. Mostly used on Selectionism and consists of:
  1. Freezing objectives and designs
  2. Rejecting changes or delaying new technologies or techniques without previously studied outcomes
  3. Extending and maintaining the same strategies and working systems

This approach is often referred to as “making static” that is used to change a highly uncertain environment to a more manageable situation.

  • Planning approaches for dynamic environments:

Dynamic environments are often really hard to predict, that’s why a normal approach won’t work against a highly changing difficulty. That’s why it is necessary to have an approach especially designed for a dynamic environment. This is based on the project size, a plan with responsibility milestones and less detail development in wave planning against problems with more uncertainty and pragmatism. It is mostly used in a learning strategy against unpredictability.

  • Scope control for dynamic environments:

It is always important to know the scope of the action taken. However, there are situations and environment that do not help in making a better decision with less uncertainty. By always aiming first at the smallest, easiest or primarily scope, the project can have a better outcome, especially if it is broken into stages. This helps in making a better approach against uncertainties and known outcomes, using instructionism and a learning strategy depending on the context and project.

  • Controlled experimentation for dynamic environments:

When a dynamic environment is being studied, experimentation and discovery will help in selecting the most useful and efficient approaches. This approach helps the manager at identifying possibilities of every taken action and eliminating dead ends of every possible outcome. This is used in studying both failing ideas and successful ones, enhancing the ones that work with studying of the ones that do not. It is mostly used in learning strategies and part of Selectionism.

  • Communication and culture in a dynamic environment:
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With a better communication in-pro of better results and a comfortable environment inside an already difficult situation, dynamic projects tend to have a better outcome and a more reliable scope. In order to do this, there are certain aspects of culture that could help in creating a managing plan:

  1. Organic capabilities, formal and informal
  2. Egalitarianism and hierarchy with flat management
  3. Support of experimentation
  4. Rewards for experimentation
  5. Tolerance for failures
  6. Control of experimentations and elimination of wrong ideas
  • Categorization in a dynamic environment:

This approach refers to the customization and tailoring of every procedure needed to eventually achieve a previously selected objective. This should be done by taking into account different environmental changes and dynamism as a whole, making an effort to create a more reliable and systematically better outcome. It goes well with a learning strategy, but it may be the best approach for a Selectionism strategy.

Leadership style in a dynamic environment:

The leadership style depends on the difficulty and the rate of dynamism of the project. While some projects would need a more flexible and problem-solving mindset, others would benefit from a high amount of knowledge from the field of work, and there are projects which would need a more innovative and creative mindset to work. However, all of them are really important features for a manager that will work no matter the type or rate of dynamism as a whole.

Finally, it doesn’t matter how difficult or dynamic a project is to a manager, there is always a way to get out of a difficult situation. Always take into account different approaches, do not forget the final scope and develop better managerial approaches for projects with different rates of dynamism. Management approaches like the ones listed above are the best way to cope with high rates of dynamism that will eventually result in better outcomes.

DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation in writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.

MSc candidate in e-business management, Stefan works in the Products division of Seavus Group working on Seavus Project Viewer and Primavera Reader covering marketing activities for upcoming and existing software solutions. With 5 years of B2B marketing experience, Stefan loves telling stories, writing copy & converting clicks into conversions. The business software solutions he promotes have been installed on more than 6 million computers worldwide, including more than half of Fortune 500 companies. Stefan is Google AdWords Certified, Google Analytics Certified, HubSpot Inbound Marketing certified, and Ezine Articles Expert Author.

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