Adaptability in projects

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The 2013 APM Project Management Conference is focused on exploring the implications of success and achievement through the topic area of Adapt!. This is particularly applicable in the context of economic crises, political turmoil, and environmental concerns, coupled with rapid technological innovation, which leads to significant social changes.

Adapt generally means to make something suitable for a new use, purpose or situation. Organisations adapt to change and project managers are often required to adapt to new environments, technologies, expectations and situations.

Adaptation is a fundamental property of matter, organisations and people. It is refined over time in trial-and-error fashion as individuals learn, experiment and adjust to new conditions. Above all adaptation provides a smart approach to problem solving by emphasising learning through interaction, responsiveness, adjustments, feedback, and recognition of complexity and ambiguity inherent in situations.

To drive the discussion there are a number of overarching perspectives that will be explored in three inter-related streams:

Resilience: Recovery from shock and turbulence. The abilities to absorb change and disruption, keep the range of options open and deal with an unexpected future are crucial to adaption and survival. Learning to deal with the unknown through resilience while maintaining the core purpose requires the capability to bounce back and enables managers to cope with surprises and adjust accordingly.

Flexibility: Often relates to the variety available within a system; flexibility implies a diversity of potential solutions and options and the operational capability to adjust and divert from one potential response to another acceptable state in reaction to emerging trends and events.

Evolution: The process of interacting with the environment, changing, responding and adjusting. Often explored through the lens of local ecology and its inherent dynamics, evolution can also be viewed as the potential for endless form and innovation, or a focus on continuous improvement.

Presentations will highlight many successful projects and the approaches utilised by project directors, managers and leaders in response to challenges and changes. The sessions will feature the lessons from experienced practitioners under trying circumstances, and their methods for adapting to change and delivering successful projects.

The conference will thus provide a great opportunity to listen, share and reflect on the lessons, identify new ideas and perspectives and derive a deeper understanding of the dynamics and practicalities of project work.

Managers, team members, stakeholders and shareholders will benefit from the discussion and interaction available throughout the day. The range of speakers will enable all participants to identify and take away new ideas and insights that can be applied in a range of sectors and project environments.

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Posted by Professor Darren Dalcher on 8th May 2013

About the Author
Darren is Professor of Project Management at the University of Hertfordshire, and founder and Director of the National Centre for Project Management. He works to foster interactive dialogue about the integration of successful practice with theoretical research in the management of projects. He is the editor of two book series featuring Advances in Project Management, and a number of journals and has chaired the APM Project Management Conference for five years.

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