Managing complex projects, products and systems

Formal assessment of the course is made on the basis of a paper (3,000 words)submitted by the deadline indicated in Sussex Direct.

Papers should be developed by the students. This can be done in consultation with the moduleconvenor. The paper will give students the chance to more closely explore a topic from the course. Please use the module reading list and any supplemental readings you can find on your chosen topic. Evaluation of the module paper will take into account the student’s ability to identify, outline and discuss a particular problem of his or her own interest related to one of the module themes presented in the lectures and/or discussed in classwork exercises/seminars. The paper may take critical essay form.

Critical essay

The critical essay should be an analytical assessment of one of the module themes presented in the lectures and/or discussed in classwork exercises/seminars. Essays should be developed by the student (i.e. essay titles are not set by the moduleconvenor).

The essay can apply concepts, frameworks and approaches from module material and articles to a particular case (e.g. a project, firm, industry or category of CoPS). It can also critically evaluate the claims made by one of the articles in the module reading list. Think about conflicting theories and approaches, exceptions to the rule, competing hypotheses and the generalisability of your conclusions across different types of projects, firms and industries. If possible, try to provide empirical support for your argument, using data from various sources such as newspapers, company websites and trade press. A comparison between CoPS and high-volume industries can be a helpful way of emphasising the distinctive characteristics of CoPS. Also comparing and contrasting different levels of complexity in projects and their environment can be explored and exploited. A critique of the traditional approach to project management can also be developed: for example, a critique on the limitations of planning and control as the optimum solution to the problem of managing complex projects effectively.

The key criterion for the module evaluation of the critical essay is the ability to show an awareness of the challenges of managing complex projects, products and systems related to specific issues such as:(chose 3 or 4 issues to analyze)
•    product complexity and the dynamics of innovation
•    project management capability, performance and strategies
•    critical views/approaches of project management
•    systems integration and competitive strategies
•    project organisations and the innovation environment
•    managing complex software development
•    learning in temporary project organisations
•    strategies, capabilities and organisations for delivering integrated solutions
•    application of the lessons learned from CoPS to high-volume (and other industries
•    innovative project management methods
•    megaprojects
•    sustainability in the management of projects: managing the project ‘effect’ or ‘impact’)

Remarks on the Coursework

•    Critical essay
–    product complexity and the dynamics of innovation
–    project management capability, performance and strategies
–    critical views/approaches of project management
–    systems integration and competitive strategies
–    projectorganisations and the innovation environment
–    managing complex software development
–    learning in temporary project organisations
–    strategies, capabilities and organisations for delivering integrated solutions
–    application of the lessons learned from CoPS to high-volume (and other industries
–    innovative project management methods
–    megaprojects
•    Other more specific, suggested topics:
–    Innovation management for CoPS and for mass-produced goods and services
–    Conventional project management versus Adaptive project management (or other critical perspectives)
–    Systems integration/procurement/logistics for CoPS/complex projects versus for mass produced goods and services (value stream versus value chain)
–    Software projects: rational vs. actual, agile
–    Emerging properties in projects? What is that?
–    Comparing and contrasting PCB and CMM?
–    Integrated solutions: a sustainable business model? Under what conditions?
–    Challenges of managing megaprojects: underestimation of costs and overestimation of benefits. How to deal/cope/minimise this?

complex projects developed by firms such as:
Airbus
Arup
BT Global Services
T-Systems (Deutsche Telekom)
Laing O’Rourke
WS Watkins
IBM
Nokia
Motorola Solutions
Ericsson

Point/argument
–    What is the main point/argument/lesson learned?
–    Line of argument
–    How do you build the argument/make the point/reach the conclusion?

Backing up with empirical evidence and/or logical reasoning
–    Structuring the critical essay

1st order learning
Directed at the accumulation of knowledge and facts

2nd order learning
Enabling changes in cognitive frames and assumptions
 Aiming at 2nd order learning

Critical thinking
Critical essay  Critical

Critical?
It is not about right/wrong answers.
It is about how you build your argument/point:
Backing it up with existing knowledge (articulating the literature) and your own thinking/interpretation
Towards fresh perspectives/thinking
And possibly generating original contribution/knowledge.

Structure?
Introduction
‘Main Body’
Conclusion
•     The structure of the main body depends on the topic and on the way you want to structure your argument.
•     The structure should demonstrate how your argument flows towards the conclusion (i.e. what is the logical reasoning of your argument)
•     You choose the structure which best fits your topic and line of argument.

Interesting questions to ask about your coursework:
Conception:
To what extent the conception of your work is clear, related to the scope of the module (i.e. management of complex projects and CoPS), realistic/ambitious and original?
Structure and Organisation:
To what extent your work is well structured, organised, balanced and clear?
Line of argument:
To what extent your line of argument is critically considered, clearly supported/bounded and well balanced?
Treatment of literature:
To what extent is your treatment of literature appropriate, critical, evaluative and of significant added value?
Overall conclusions, insights, contributions:
To what extent are your conclusions clear, balanced, insightful, original and well connected to analysis?
Presentation, format and technicalities:
To what extent your work is presented in a  systematic, clear, accurate and thorough way? (e.g. Reference system; English language; tables and figures well identified; word count; etc)

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