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Managing Complex Projects and Programs: How to Improve Leadership of Complex Initiatives Using a Third-Generation Approach by Richard J. Heaslip

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Chapter 10A New Perspective on Programs and Program Management

From Adaptive Leadership to Program Management

We ended Chapter 9 with a two-paragraph description of the competencies and skills that might be essential to an adaptive leader. It was a conceptual list, built on the foundation of complexity leadership theory. But it might also be viewed as a pragmatic list, intended to be valuable when defining the skills, knowledge, and experience that might be required of a programmaticist who embodies or evokes the adaptive leadership role—an outcome sage–programmaticist.

I laid versions of that description before executives and programmaticists after discussing their organizations’ approaches for managing complex projects or programs. Some of them responded with looks of befuddlement. They questioned the role of a programmaticist in interpreting project outcomes and in assuming more active (and more “expert”) responsibility for leading organizational committees in their review and analysis of those outcomes. These stakeholders did not believe that a programmaticist should be expected to have the technical knowledge required for such tasks. They observed that placing programmaticists in charge of such reviews and analyses would require that programmaticists interact with high-level leaders almost as peers. They often opined that, “that is not really the job of a project manager.” For the most part, these were the stakeholders who preferred more operational (administrative) conceptions ...

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