Saturday, September 05, 2009

How to Handle the Numbty?

How could the scope of your project could be difficult to manage?

As this is a hypothetical PhD project I am happy not to be in the middle of it while I am trying to plan it. This course is helping me spur my imagination to identify the facets of my project definition which have changed in scope similarly to Anna's description of regional focus rather than a national one. For example what I know about New Zealand is particularly scant. But as I originate in an economically declining portion of Canada the challenges are similar globally so seeking out a similar economic region in New Zealand led me to the North Island Bay of Plenty as an initial definition change to anticipate a digestible scope.

So far possible scope challenges appear to me as nightmarish scenarios (and I have given away all of my dream catchers) which consist of:

1.Stake holder disagreement or dislike of purpose
This might be a reality as the VUW is located quite far from the regional area of first choice. While they might like the idea they might prefer to see my studies directed at another closer regional location perhaps a place like Invercargill described to me as also somewhat economically bleak. However it is my opinion that regional inequities are possibly mitigated through creative export trade strategies.

2.Timeframe may need to be adjusted
Considering my own preference is to study and work in a closely related position the extension of time-based scope is a real possibility. I would however be satisfied to work in entrepreneurial international business planning positions as that is my training and specialisation the experience would only add veracity and concrete examples to my research.

3.Disagreement or dislike of proposed methods
I am not a great fan of statistics and would count heavily upon W. Edwards Deming's claim, "Don't rely on statistics. A good theory is often more useful" (not verbatim but also not hearsay) and I am a greater fan of books like Innovative Approaches to Reducing Global Poverty by Stoner and Wankel (2007) than reams of statistical data examining median, mean and averages which I appears to pass for real research methods among humanities disciplines perhaps attempting to add scientific relevancy to pre-decided power based decisions rather than rational approaches to decision making or strategies.

I would never have read this book of global business case-studies if Dr. Wankel had not requested to link up on linkedin.

4.Possible excessive scope of relevant data
As I would like to observe what works globally in regionally challenging economic areas of the world and compare them to opportunities for similar developments at the private, academic and government levels in a particular region of New Zealand relevancy would not be a real problem but local application and devising workable Internationalisation and Commercialisation Matrix, Criteria, Culture, Management, Framework, Skill set, Evaluation will be challenging. However I do believe in looking for needles in haystacks.

5.Business case study too exclusive or non-representative
For example I've read that the latest trends among New Zealand entrepreneurs are a tendency to do business as a life style choice meets but often does not exceed previous work experiences or incomes. This might not encourage export growth on a significant scale. However I am curious to know if self-identified lifestyle businesses are so doing (or treading water) due to other factors which discourage small business growth.

6.Evaluation measures too stringent
I am not prepared to bend over backwards for bloodless or difficult sponsors or stakeholders. I expect a comfortable and professional working environment that treats me like the asset that I am. As I am not a lone wolf by choice I expect my skills as a researcher would be welcomed especially in applying my knowledge and experience towards regional and rural environments where I must admit I feel most comfortable.

7.Failed deadline 8. Failed examination
Too maddening to contemplate? Avoidance of this would require consistent milestone meeting rather than millstone monitoring with engine-like clearance of any/all "numbties" (humpty numbties?) as described by Gerard Blair. For example, I have never felt intellectual dead ends to be a waste of progress. On the contrary, it is nice to know where something stops and something else begins.

How will you solidify agreement on the specific boundaries of your project?

Consistent progress checking with my stakeholders, sponsors and supervisors which would begin at the proposal process would be essential. Much of my out of scope details relate to the repeated irrelevancy of local or domestic business practices to the project research. It appears to me that many domestic processes of export growth are broken in many rural regional areas of the developed world possibly due to power based approaches to decision-making rather than rational ones which may discourage business start-ups or export growth as described by Bent Flyberg in application to local business processes in Freiburg or as Bruce Kogut describes, "In the academy, accountability and rewards function differently: Higher salaries and more grants go to researchers who publish and produce papers. There is no external barometer for the social validation of their work, beyond cross-references among colleagues." For example, overly scrupulous and thus penurious venture fund management or the insidious practice of nepotism which I believe to be a core weakness of modern age democracies may drive research and development funding for export ventures all over the world rather than merit. I would like to study what works in even some of the most visibly corrupt nations which would place more red tape and impediments to local businesses than in less perceptively corrupt ones for example. All of my stakeholders, sponsors and supervisors would require extremely strong stomachs.

Who will help you with your work breakdown structure?

I feel fortunate to have chosen my hypothetical project as as our case study model "Jane" is also luckily working on a thesis proposal. Her WBS is currently my model. I am willing to adapt process but not principles.

How much detail is necessary for the projects you work with?

More than I have at the moment!

The details will need to reveal relevancy and significance to stakeholders, sponsors and supervisors and that will entail providing a window to global small business best practices which succeed even in adverse or worst-case scenario conditions. As Tom Mochal's linked article was unavailable I sought out a few other internet-based listings for his scope management topics. I will provide them with the details that they need to know or hypothesis may not transform into a real project.

My sponsors need to be assured that the basis of my plan is workable and that the functional aspects of my research will be useful and profitable to them. Stakeholders are seeking applicable conclusions and recommendations based on real world examples of export growth drivers for small business. My supervisors will need consistent progress reports to confirm successful milestone achievements. The danger of scope changes may be mitigated by successful mediation of interests which may also prove challenging.

Bellow, A. (2003) In Praise of Nepotism: A Natural History, Doubleday, New York.

Flyvbjerg, B. (2001) Making Social Science Matter: Why social inquiry fails and how it can succeed again, CUP, Cambridge.

Flyvbjerg, B. (1998) Rationality and Power: Democracy in Practice , The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Kogut, B. (2005-2006) Accountability in Research: An Introduction to the Issue (and Issues), EIASM. [Accessed: September 5, 2009]

Mochal, M. (2006) Follow this simple scope change management process, techrepublic article, September 12, 2006. [Accessed: September 2, 2009]

Mochal, M.(2006) Understand the role of the sponsor in scope change management, techrepublic article, June 13, 2006. [Accessed: September 2, 2009]

Stoner, J. and Wankel, C. (2007) Innovative Approaches to Reducing Global Poverty, Information Age Publishing , Charlotte, NC.

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