The Problem with COMPLEXITY


What do you think? … We have 30 seconds

(part 1)



By Charles Villanyi Bokor

Ottawa, Canada



The problem

“I just don’t understand it.” said Bob, looking at the latte he was holding in his hands.

“There are some things that I do not understand either.” I interrupted “How does the English language change Robert into Bob or William into Bill? Intellectually I know it is about hypocorism, and showing affection or closeness, but I never managed to befriend this idea.”

“What do you not understand? I have not told you what I do not understand.” He was stern almost agitated.  “What I do not understand is why do I still have all these problems, issues, misdirection and what seems to be general ineffective management of this project. With so many qualified people involved, we should be managing this project much better.” continued Bob. He took a few seconds then said: “I have a fairly simple project that is supposed to replace a legacy system. So why is it that after years in development, we are still discussing requirements? The project has been going on for three times the originally estimated length of time. It is now using twice the number of people we started out with and is now scheduled to take another year before we get to the end. By then, I suspect, the needs will have to be or should have been changed, if they have not already, and so the system will be much less valuable than originally expected. Yes, it will be the system we decided to build, but it will not be the application we will need. However, by the time it will be ready, we will accept it, just so we can gracefully put an end to the project.” The latte was extremely good from this coffee shop and the comfortable seats in our cars made the conversation seem like it was intimate.

“I have qualified people. PMPs.” Bob continued. I have a contractor that is a world wide leader and expert in the IM/IT [Information Management / Information Technology] field, my client has been using the legacy system for years so they know what they want, we have the most robust development methodology in the federal government, and this project is still going on and on.”

We had to stop talking for a while as a small sporty car with a loud ‘flow through’ muffler drove up to the parking lot where we were parked. As we both were sitting in our own cars talking through the half open window, we could not hear each other with the noise. We were working around Covid-19’s constraints of not having face-to-face in close proximity meetings.

“What is going on? I now have another new estimate for the schedule. Will I be able to deliver as per this latest schedule? Will the application deliver the functionality that the business needs? Will there be new impediments or functionality missing? Is there anything I need to do differently?” Bob asked after the noise subsided.


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How to cite this article: Villanyi Bokor, C. (2020).  The Problem with Complexity: What do you think? We have 30 seconds (part 1), PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue VIII, August.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/pmwj96-Aug2020-Bokor-the-problem-with-coplexity-30-seconds-part1.pdf



About the Author

Charles Villanyi Bokor

Ottawa, Canada


 Charles Villanyi Bokor is a Strategic Management Consultant focused on Leading to Better Decisions. Principal activities include Business Transformation, Problem Project Recovery & Leadership, Strategic Planning. Charles works mostly in Ottawa but has successfully completed assignments in Florida, Wales, Malaysia, Sweden and Australia, and was key-note speaker in Johannesburg, South Africa and Victoria, BC. Formal education includes an Executive Development and Diploma in Management (McGill), M.Sc. Mathematics (Université de Grenoble, and de Montréal) and B. Sc. Mathematics (Concordia). He was: Program Director of the Corporate Performance Management Program, Sprott, Carleton; Director of IS/IM at Royal Trust; and at Northern Telecom; CMC; CMC Board Member; PMI-OVOC Board Member; Governor of ICCC; is ITIL Certified, ISP and a TBS Independent Project Reviewer. Charles can be contacted at villanyibokor@gmail.com