Complexity Conquered

Breaking the Context Barrier

Posted by Andrew Thomas on Sep 24, 2018 9:21:12 AM

Understand what causes one of the major barriers to contract performance — and how you can break it.

The goal of doing things through contract is for two parties to achieve their shared and individual goals more effectively than they could on their own. But when independent parties are engaged in a performance exchange, they each bring their own unique context. If either party lacks understanding of their partner’s context, it creates a major barrier to shared performance. We call it “The Context Barrier”.

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Topics: Contract Performance

Does your project ecosystem sabotage your own project managers?

Posted by Andrew Wegener on Jun 27, 2018 10:44:51 AM

Projects fail — a lot. Nearly half of all projects fail to meet time, cost and quality requirements. Eighty-four percent of projects don’t meet all success criteria and 9 in 10 projects go over budget. In fact, only 2% of organisations don’t experience any kind of project failure (Standish Group; McKinsey; PwC).

In the last 20 years, organisations – both public and private – have invested heavily in improving their capability to deliver projects. Yet project success rates have only improved by 10% or less. Having a PMO isn’t a silver bullet either – they only reduce the failure rate by 8% (PMI).

Over the same period, ‘projectisation’ has continued to gain prominence as a means of delivering core elements of business strategy.

It stands to reason then, that if you’re delivering your strategy though projects, your Project Delivery System is either a competitive constraint or a competitive advantage.  And the way yours works can be a key driver of success (or not).

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Topics: Project Performance

Soft capabilities underpin hard outcomes

Posted by Martin Neep on May 23, 2018 3:43:19 PM

Helmsman recently worked with an Australian resources company with international operations in remote and inhospitable environments.

Effectively managing operations ‘in the field’ is an essential part of this business. Managing their equipment and assets, and ensuring operational efficiency on-site has a direct effect on financial results.


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Topics: Project Performance, Project Controls, Project Competencies, Operating Model

If you're looking for project value through delivery, you're already too late

Posted by Satya Singh on Feb 22, 2018 4:45:22 PM


If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem, and one minute resolving it” – Albert Einstein

These words aptly represent the problem that exists with the traditional view of project controls - a parochial focus on the Delivery or Implementation stage of a project.

While project delivery is key to realising the value of a project, creating the value occurs primarily in the early stages of a project, and well before delivery gets underway.

Similarly, research suggests that cost of getting the early stages wrong, such as misdiagnosing the business problem, is up to 10 times costlier to an organisation than project implementation failures. In Australia, inaccurate understanding of requirements is the #1 primary cause of project failure (PMI, 2018).

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Topics: Project Competencies, Project Controls, Complexity, PMO

Lets talk about improving project performance

Posted by Helmsman Ed on Dec 4, 2017 3:45:07 PM


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Topics: Complexity, Project Performance, Project Controls

Driving Project Performance at the Victorian Major Projects Conference 2017

Posted by Helmsman Ed on Dec 4, 2017 3:15:01 PM

Our thanks to all who participated and shared at the Victorian Major Projects Conference in Melbourne last week. 

Victoria certainly has some exciting and innovative projects in the works, and a passionate community engaged in delivering them.

We were delighted to be part of this event, and to have Andrew Wegener share our learning on driving project performance.

If you'd like a copy of his presentation, you can get it here

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Topics: Complexity, Project Competencies, Project Controls

Check out our refreshed case studies

Posted by Helmsman Ed on Nov 9, 2017 10:30:00 AM

Explore our refreshed case study library, with the stories of organisations we’ve worked with to navigate complexity, achieve project performance, and transform businesses.

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Topics: Complexity

The PMO’s leadership role in conquering complexity

Posted by Brad Kerwin on May 2, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Project complexity is most commonly considered by organisations on a project-by-project basis.  This is important as the drivers of complexity are often defined by the unique challenges the project sets out to overcome

However, the Project Management Office (PMO) can play a critical role in extending their organisation’s capability to successfully handle complexity.  Common PMO goals include raising project success rates, effective portfolio planning, growing capability through access to specialist resources, providing cost savings through standardization, and improving project schedule and budget achievement.

The PMO’s view - of multiple projects from the past, those in-flight, and in the pipeline, across different business areas and project types, with qualified success rates - allows PMO’s to make five significant contributions to conquering complexity:

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Topics: Complexity Cliff, PMO, Project Controls, Project Competencies, Project Performance

Is your project going over the complexity cliff?

Posted by Brad Kerwin on Mar 16, 2017 8:00:00 AM

What’s a Complexity Cliff?

Helmsman’s 9-year research into the impact of complexity on project outcomes has uncovered a specific and consistent scenario where the likelihood of project success plummets – The Complexity Cliff.

This finding came from analysis that established an objective and accurate measure for assessing complexity – the Helmsman Complexity Scale. The Complexity Scale is used similar to how the Richter Scale is applied for building projects.

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Topics: Complexity, Complexity Cliff, Project Controls, Project Competencies

'Complexity is the new norm' at Convergence

Posted by Helmsman Ed on Feb 24, 2017 2:53:22 PM

We’re delighted that our own Enrique Ugarte will be discussing how 'Complexity is the new norm' at the Convergence Australia conference in Canberra on March 7-9. Alongside a range of highly regarded speakers, Enrique will outline the need for a structured understanding of how different environments drive complexity based on the key findings from Helmsman's multi-year research project into project complexity. He'll also look at how to identify focus areas for change, and the implications for leaders when scoping, planning and executing change and other projects.

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Topics: Complexity, change, Project Controls, Project Performance