Our perspectives

Projects are complex and emergent undertakings. For this reason, we have developed our framing of engineering projects based on the characteristics of engineering systems (De Weck et al 2011) and inspired by the seminal works of Morgan’s (1997) Images of the Organization and Weick’s (1995) Sensemaking in organisation.

This has resulted in the four complementary perspectives for understanding and managing projects: purpose, people, complexity, and uncertainty…

Scope on board





Purpose is the raison d’être of a project. Projects are vehicles of change; they transform status quo into something new. Therefore, ‘the Purpose Perspective’ asks: “Why are we doing this project?” and “what are we doing?”. Purpose is about envisioning the future, by establishing a shared understanding of what the project wants to achieve together with project team and other stakeholders. From the ‘purpose perspective’, project management is about the entrepreneurial spirit with the drive to turn ideas into reality, and the diplomacy to engage and in-spire people to work towards the project vision.
Projects are made by people and for people! That is why ‘the People Perspective’ asks the questions “Whom are we doing this for?” and “Who is doing it?”. It sees project management as a collection of individuals, with their own identities, expert knowledge, interests, feelings, personalities, friendships, etc. It is actually debat-able to what extend we can ‘manage’ people - like marionettes in a puppet show. Yet, it is widely recognized that project managers can influence, enable, nurture, etc. - not only project stakeholders, but also him or herself. Looking at projects from a People Perspective help us see and cope with the human intricacies in projects.
When exploring the project from the complexity perspective, we are examining how to realise the purpose. Thus, we ask: “How, where and when are we doing it?” From the complexity perspective, project management is about breaking down the purpose into smaller pieces of work that can be delegated and constantly integrated. Managing from the complexity perspective is about integrating a large number of interdependent technologies, processes, people, interests, organisations, information, expertise, etc. so that they, together, work towards and achieve the project purpose. Managing the complexities of projects is the classic area of project management; it involves work breakdown structures, schedules, contracts, division of work, etc.

Projects are, in many respects, a leap of faith. Project practitioners will need to navigate an inherently uncertain context and make decisions with limited information. Thus, we ask ourselves proactively “What if?” and reactively “What now?”, and “so what?’. The focus of this perspective is this lack of knowledge, or uncertainty, and how it is reduced over the course of the project, as well as the learning embedded in and after the project. Part of the uncertainty is about anticipating what could go wrong (risk), and what opportunities could emerge (opportunity), and deciding how to respond to such risks and opportunities. Moreover, not knowing is also an opportunity for learning and developing the skills of people involved in the project as well as organizational capabilities. 


De Weck, O. L., Roos, D., & Magee, C. L. (2011). Engineering systems: Meeting human needs in a complex technological world. MIT Press.
Morgan, G. (1999). Images de l'organisation. Presses Université Laval.
Weick, K. E. (1995). Sensemaking in organizations (Vol. 3). Sage.