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C3 - Project complexity assessed.

Complexity is inherent in every project, programme or change initiative. Prior to dedicated research in this area many thought that complex was related simply to the technical aspects of engineering. The science of projects has moved forward significantly in this area and there are now several tools and ways to look at and mitigate complexity. One such way has been developed by Cranfield University, their 3 types of complexity cover a much broader and holistic range which helps teams identify some of the more challenging aspects.

Their 3 types of Complexity are:

  • Structural complexity: increases with the number of people involved, financial scale, number of interdependencies, variety of work, pace, breadth of scope, number of specialist disciplines involved, and number of locations and time-zones.

  • Socio-political complexity: increases with the divergence of people involved, level of politics or power-play, lack of stakeholder / sponsor commitment, degree of resistance to work being undertaken, hidden agendas, and conflicting priorities of stakeholders.

  • Emergent complexity: increases with work novelty, lack of technological and commercial maturity, lack of clarity of vision / goals, lack of clear success criteria / benefits, lack of previous experience, and any changes imposed on or by the work.

To aid with identifying they have developed a Complexity Assessment Tool (CAT) which guides project teams through identification and action.

Why is it in the Lab?

We feel that the clear language and ability to link contemporary events to the types of complexity (I.e. Covid would be classified as Emergent complexity) helps level the playing field away from simply the complex aspects that are straight forward (the scope). Also this method reinforces the fact that CURED itself is around mitigating each of these aspects.

See our Video where Cranfield's own Stephen Carver discusses complexity with us.



“I really love the inclusion of socio political as a complexity. In looking back at my decades of experience it was always this aspect that presented the most challenges while being the most difficult to codify and deal with. In my opinion Cranfield's tool provides a holistic and balanced view that can help guide teams and organisations to the right level of governance and control to deliver successfully”

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