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Project Management

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A project is a temporary joining of different forces to create the project result. Teal project management is about the creation of the project result in an open and constructive interaction between the team members and the larger context. The client and the project manager trie to create conditions around and in the project in which the team can operate in a Teal way.

--Anko Grootveld (talk) 14:52, 1 November 2015

Historical perspective

Every historical stage has given birth to a distinct perspective on project management, and to very different practices:

Red Project Management

Why do we do this? Why Now? What is the urgency? Red energy is the energy of the survivor.

According to Ken Wilber Impulsive Red gains power and influence around 10.000 BC. The forgoing ice age lost its force. Groups of hunters/farmers in the Levant (the area between current Iraq and Syria) set up large stone traps to hunt Gazelles. The first forms of agriculture emerged. Huts and simple villages were built out off clay. Survival was THE true art. In and around these villages the first forms of Red project management arose:

Problem 1 -> We get wet. Lets build huts to stay dry.

Problem 2 -> Too much grain today. Lets make a pit in which we can store the roasted corn.

Problem 3 -> We see all those fast Gazelles. Lets build large stone traps to catch them.

In this red part of the project management an acute problem arises and challenges us: do we want to solve it right now? Yes or No?

Once the decision is made the problem is worthwhile solving, a form of organization emerges to create the solution. Once the solution is created, the project falls apart.

The Red part of project management is about power, urgency and directness. If sufficient energy is available and the problematic situation is urgent enough (according to the leader) there is a good chance the red project will start and will be completed.

Amber Project Management

The Amber part of project management is about norms, rules & standards.

Around 6.000 BC a sequence of drought crisis hits the Levant. The direct and powerful Red way of responding was not sufficient to tackle this threat. Something more structural was needed. Something, which involved not only the present but also the future. Some people noticed in these times of drought, the dancing, joy and happiness, which occurred when some rain and water came down. And they saw the following deep depression as the moist vanished in the heat of the sun; the plants withered and dried out, the animals starved.

These same people saw some animals and children reaching towards deep holes in which water was naturally stored. And these attentive people made a plan: “Let’s store water and let’s make it available for us in dry times”.

This was the beginning of the irrigation systems. It would solve the problem of drought for the next six thousand years.

As we know now, an irrigation system requires a delicate way of operation on multiple levels. There are strict rules for the collection and storage of water. There are strict rules for the delivery system (not too steep, not too small, not too wide, not too flat). And there are strict rules for the usage of water in terms of amount and timing.

The irrigation systems worked well in the era between 6.000 - 4.000 BC. The view over present, past and future, and the set of rules, standards & norms led to an economic use of water and a rapid growth of the population. The guardians of the rules and the builders of the irrigation system gained influence. The Big Red Hunting Chief, and his pure, direct and immediate use of power lost its dominance.

Starting from 4.000 BC the degree of coordination had developed enough to make the building of the first cities possible. The value of rules, standards and norms was celebrated by the building of temples and pyramids. The priests and engineers gained and maintained their position and influence. The importance of bureaucracy increased.

The decrease of the value of directness and immediateness of Red, and the increase of the value of Amber hierarchy and stability meant a restriction of individual freedom. The realization of the major projects as temples and pyramids made extensive use of slave labor.

The Amber part of project management has its good and dark sides. Today the Amber part of project management has taken the form of control on money, organization, time, information, communication and quality. In short: the planning & control.

Later on, we will see some Amber variations, in reaction on the conditions of that specific times.

Orange Project management

The orange form of project management is about:
•Setting a goal
•And shielding the flying arrow for disturbing influences

In short: SMART
S describes the situation. On a playing field stands a person with capacities, prepared to aim for the goal.
M states that the whole shooting should be measurable. What distance, what force, what curve, what speed.
A is about acceptable. Don’t aim at the women and children in the audience. On the other hand, cheating is acceptable, as long as nobody finds out.
R means realistic. Don’t set the goal in front of your nose. It is too easy. Nobody will celebrate your attempts. 
But don’t set the goal too far away either. Nobody will follow the curve of your arrow, since the arrow makes no chance at all.
T is about time; how long will it take to set up the goal, to aim, to shoot en how long is the arrow on its way (T is not about when to shoot). 

In stagnant climates orange project management is welcomed as a new and vibrant possibility.
To let it all work in a orange way, a very basic condition is needed: stability of the setting. This condition is found for example in and around a bureaucracy. 

Orange project management is about the celebration of the aiming & shooting. We play the game and we enjoy the contest. We are playful. ‘Why’ is not a very relevant question. Nor is it not about the head of the arrow penetrating the mandala. It has to be fun.

The art of orange is to act within time, with limited resources and to score the highest possible score. That’s it. And it can be done always in a better way. Let us be excellent.

The integration of Red, Blue and Orange ways of operating made it possible to build railways, the telephone network and the network of highways.

Are there any threats to the orange project management way of doing? Yes, there are. A highway is build up in a decade. A lot can change in that time. If the conditions are getting too unstable and too moveable, a good thing to do is to try to shield your project for exterior influences. A bureaucracy in combination with professional communication people will do normally.
If that’s insufficient, the second best thing to do is to speed up the completion time of your project. If you act with a completion time of say for example two weeks, you can reset your goals, in time, on the back of the ever-moving dinosaurs. Apparently it works in the ICT and the finance world.

There is little room in a orange climate for people who are not interested in goals and shootings at all. They will be treated with a merciful pity. And moved to places where they can do no harm. Orange says: Let’s play the music the show must go on.

In the integrated project way of orange, bleu and red, tenders are the main vehicles. In a overcrowded market the contractors will be eager to left fall their prices in the stage of contracting. If the job is awarded the contractor will bring in additional work, to make it work for him as well.

Green Organizations

Please add a short description of the typical practices in this area in Green Organizations. (you can also refer to pages 30-34 in the book Reinventing Organizations if you need a refresher about Green.)

Teal Organizations

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Principles and practices in Teal

Principle or practice One

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Subpractice One

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Subpractice Two

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Link with the three Teal breakthroughs

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A short paragraph or two on how this topic supports (or doesn't) the Teal breakthrough of striving for wholeness.

Evolutionary purpose

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Frequently asked questions


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In practice

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Related topics

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