Cognitive Readiness in Project Teams



Book Title:  Cognitive Readiness in Project Teams: Reducing Project Complexity and Increasing Success in Project Management
Author:  Carl Belack, Daniele Di Filippo, Ivano Di Filippo
Publisher:  Routledge/Productivity Press
List Price:   $59.95
Format:  Hardcover, 224 pages
Publication Date:  February 2019
ISBN: 9781138592315
Reviewer: Susan E. Slawson, PhD
Review Date: June 2019




The challenges that businesses face are increasingly complex. We have gone from simple and then complicated systems to the next level: complex systems. Most of the current approaches to project management are based on Newtonian/Cartesian principles, which work well for simple and even complicated projects. This book discusses a method of combining these principles and adding a neuroscience-based approach to human behavior and ambiguity to address complex systems using cognitive readiness.

Cognitive readiness was first developed by the US Department of Defense; its purpose was to train and develop leaders who were more focused, adaptive and responsive to changing battlefield conditions. Cognitive Readiness in Project Teams: Reducing Project Complexity and Increasing Success in Project Management explains a way to apply these principles to complex systems/projects in business. The goal is to reduce project complexity and increase the likelihood of project success.

Overview of Book’s Structure

This book is a collection of chapters written by experts in fields such as project management, cognitive neuroscience and psychology, emotional and social intelligence, and mindfulness. Chapters range from complexity in projects, cognitive readiness, bias, mindfulness that leads to action, and emotional and social intelligence.

There are a significant number of resources (books, papers, studies, etc.) which are used to support the conclusions of the authors. This is, however, not an academic treatise; it is written so that it is easily understood by project managers and project teams. The supporting research strengthens the conclusions of the authors about the benefits of cognitive readiness.


The authors explain the need for a new approach to handle increasingly complex projects. Simple and even complicated systems follow Newtonian and Cartesian logic; they are linear and the results are relatively predictable. More and more projects are now complex systems.

There is no universal definition of what a complex system is. However, it is generally accepted that a complex system is composed of many components which may interact with each other. Their behavior is difficult to model due to the many different types of inherent interactions, such as nonlinearity, emergence, spontaneous order, and feedback loops. Complex systems tend to be dynamic, chaotic and have far less predictable results and are governed by quantum mechanics. Cognitive readiness is introduced as an approach to address the complexity and increase the success rate for complex projects.


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About the Reviewer

Susan E. Slawson, PhD

Carrollton, TX, USA



Susan E. Slawson, PhD, PMP, CSM, is an IT project manager with a distinctive blend of people, process and technology skills. She is committed to developing others through coaching and mentoring to help them excel. Creating order out of chaos is one of her top talents and she loves being a brand ambassador – promoting businesses to their customers.

Susan received her PhD from Carnegie Mellon University and promptly entered the workforce in management consulting. She has a varied background, including starting her own company and working for multiple industries such as professional services, healthcare, telecom, energy, financial services and retail. She currently works for Aprima Medical Software, an eMDs company. Susan is on the Executive Board for the non-profit DFW Alliance of Technology and Women (ATW) and is a member of both the Dallas and Fort Worth PMI chapters.

Susan can be contacted at SusanESlawson@gmail.com


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