International Institute for Learning, Inc.
Project Management Advanced Courses
Managing Complex Projects
An Introduction to the Impact of Complexity on Today’s Project Environments
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Course No.:
2 Days
14 PDUs / 1.4 CEUs
IIL Virtual Classroom
Course No.:
Four 3-hour sessions
12 PDUs / 1.2 CEUs
  • Advanced understanding of, and significant experience in, the management of large, increasingly complicated projects
  • A PMP or equivalent certification is desirable but not mandatory
Course Level: Advanced

About the Program
As knowledge and technology expand exponentially, organizations are finding that the tools, processes, and methods used to select, plan, and manage their projects are insufficient for the challenges posed by them. Complex projects don’t necessarily follow the rules of traditional projects – in many instances the projects’ end-products, and the methods by which they will be produced, are not easily defined. Stakeholder diversity and geographical dispersion contribute to the difficulties project managers face in their efforts to gain acceptance of project goals, objectives, and changes.

Additionally, hierarchic leadership styles, traditional lifecycle approaches, and traditional project manager competencies may no longer maximize the efficiencies that need to be realized on complex projects.

The goal of this course is to provide participants with a working knowledge of project complexities and a framework for managing the ambiguities involved in today’s fast-changing, competitive, and technology-based environments.

Who Should Attend
This course is designed for:

  • Senior project managers who are currently, or about to become, engaged in the management of a complex project
  • Senior managers who act as sponsors for complex projects
  • Senior managers who are involved in the selection and the business value assessment of complex projects

What You Will Learn
You will learn how to:

  • Describe complexity theory
  • Appreciate complexity and its impact on the management of projects
  • Consider the effects of complexity on the PMBOK®’s process groups
  • Apply a high-level model in the management of real world projects

Course Overview
(Note: Major exercises are listed in this outline, however, other interactive events, such as class discussions, and individual, paired or group activities are sprinkled liberally throughout this learning experience.)

Getting Started

  • Introductions
  • Course structure
  • Course goals and objectives

Module 1: Introduction to Complexity

  • Overview – Reductionism to Emergence
  • Characteristics of complexity – adaptability, connectedness, interdependence, diversity

Module 2: Complexity and Projects

  • Overview – current models
  • Select models and characteristics
  • Landscapes and project typologies
  • The need for a different approach to managing complex projects
  • Introduction to the IIL Complex Project Management model

Module 3: Originate

  • Overview – the need for an origination perspective
  • The Conspiracy of Optimism (a la ICCPM) and its attendant problems
  • Possible solutions
  • Exercise – reference class forecasting

Module 4: Initiate

  • Overview – Potential initiating pitfalls
  • Centrality of risk management
  • Exercise – scenario-based risk management exercise
  • Project manager competencies and selection
  • Stakeholder identification and analysis

Module 5 – Plan

  • Overview – Potential planning pitfalls
  • Polyarchic planning
  • Project approaches (methodologies/lifecycles)
  • Polyarchic scheduling
  • Exercise – scheduling in uncertainty

Module 6 – Execute and Control

  • Overview – Potential execution and control pitfalls
  • Stakeholder management – internal, partners, and customers
  • Exercise – stakeholder issues scenario
  • The importance of networks

Module 7 – Close and Continuous Improvement

  • Overview – Potential closing and continuous improvement pitfalls
  • Transition and support
  • The increased importance of post-project evaluations
  • Exercise – overcoming the barriers to closing and continuous improvement activities
  • Rewards and Recognition


  • Workshop goals and objectives in review
  • Expectations review and options for action
  • Evaluations
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