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Old 01-27-2009   #1
AdamHammond
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Default Dissertation on reconstruction and civil-military project management.

Hi All- I'm an Aussie currently undertaking my PhD dissertation on project management in complex crisis environments and am looking for input from as many different sources as possible with experience in this area.

Crises may be the result of weakened states, actual open conflict or insurgency, or the result of natural disasters. Their management may be preventive, during, after-the-fact, or elements of all of these. Large scale crises encompass all aspects of security- economic, political, social and military, and their management/prevention is therefore heavily related to critical security perspectives. Crises are defined as complex when they require the cooperation of numerous actors- both civil and military.

The aim is to broaden the existing project management literature to cover the added issues that such environments present ie security planning, information/intel sharing etc, while also addressing the strategic level issues of modelling and forming the complex inter-agency cooperation frameworks required.

Last year I travelled and studied full-time with agencies such as the CAC COIN Centre Ft Leavenworth and the Italian Army/NATO Post-Conflict Operations Study Centre. Despite the reconstruction-focussed nature of current operations worldwide, I got a lot of feedback that we are thin on the ground with respect to usable literature in this field.

With this project I hope to help fill the void by creating a practical tool that anyone involved in projects from MEDCAPs to building hydro-electric schemes can actually use. Both at boots-on-the-ground level and at the strategic level, and from any background- military, private sector, government, NGO or IGO.

As such, I plan to undertake my research in 4 phases.
1. A thorough literature review of what is currently in circulation regarding SSTR, complex crisis management, project management, COIN operations and civil-military cooperation.

2. Lay out a step-by-step guide to the various issues that must be addressed at the grass-roots level when undertaking projects in such environments,

3. Establish a methodology for identifying and modelling the various agencies that must be brought together under an interagency organisational structure/ cooperation framework,

4. Provide context through case studies based on the experiences of personnel from a broad range of professional backgrounds as I have often found that the results of intervention in crisis scenarios can be counter-intuitive.

I'd therefore like to make contact with anyone that has been involved in projects in such environments with a story to tell. Likewise if you're reading this and know someone who you think might like to be involved please feel free to cut and paste and contact me via PM to send it with my personal email.

There is interest there to publish the finished product and I'm already in contact with the Australian Defence Forces and the Asia Pacific Centre for Security Studies in Honolulu. However if anyone has any other suggestions as to agencies that might like to become involved please let me know. Any tips on organisations that might be interested in funding such a project are similarly appreciated!

best regards,

Adam Hammond

Last edited by Jedburgh; 01-27-2009 at 10:08 PM.
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Old 01-28-2009   #2
Meh
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Default NGO perspective

Adam,

Are you working off Sphere standards for actual implementation? Or are you talking purely standards of interagency co-operation? My guess is the latter, although the former would serve you as an example of the complexity of creating unified humanitarian standards.

You aim to create a "practical tool" that can be used for any task and at any level, but I'm still unsure what the end result will be. You could create a million different practical tools for such tasks - where are you heading here?

One suggestion:
On a recent course with humanitarian aid workers (experienced and novice), I noticed again how much the lack of a unified estimate process harmed their decision making. They still seem to rely too much on memory over deductive reasoning. If you could sell NGOs on such a decision making process, i.e. teaching their employees the humanitarian equivalent of the British Army's 7 Questions, that would be half the battle. If civilians and military were able to interface and explain "this is what we're doing and why" - and the other party actually understand what was being said and the reasoning behind it - you'd be taking one huge leap forward in interagency co-operation. Plus it would improve internal operations and planning as well. And my marriage, come to think of it.

You definitely can't create something for both the military and NGOs without getting into the heads of the latter. Hence...
1. Are you familiar with InterAction and their civil-military guidelines?
2. Humanitarian Military Intervention by Taylor Seybolt comes highly recommended.
3. Have you read:
a. A Bridge too far: aid agencies and the military in humanitarian response, by Jane Barry with Anna Jefferys.
b. Humanitarian Action and Military Intervention: Temptations and Possibilities, by Fabrice Weissman (MSF!).
c. Humanitarian Engagement with non-state Armed Actors, by Max P. Glaser.
d. Operational Security Management in Violent Environments, by Koenraad Van Brabant.
4. As you'll see from the publication origins of multiple readings above, joining the Humanitarian Practice Network is a good idea.
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Old 01-28-2009   #3
Beelzebubalicious
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you might look at:

KEY RECURING MANAGEMENT ISSUES IDENTIFIED IN AUDITS OF IRAQ RECONSTRUCTION EFORTS
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Old 01-28-2009   #4
AdamHammond
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Originally Posted by Meh View Post
Adam,

Are you working off Sphere standards for actual implementation? Or are you talking purely standards of interagency co-operation? My guess is the latter, although the former would serve you as an example of the complexity of creating unified humanitarian standards.

Currently looking for whatever is out there re standards for my literature review- both on implementation and on co-operation.

You aim to create a "practical tool" that can be used for any task and at any level, but I'm still unsure what the end result will be. You could create a million different practical tools for such tasks - where are you heading here?

I'm a civilian project/development manager by professional background. On that side there is a multitude of publications out there of how to plan and implement a project. So far I haven't seen something along the lines of the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) that covers all of the additional areas required in a semi-permissive or hostile environment, or even in a natural disaster situation. The idea is to cover these areas- security planning, info/intel sharing etc and to come up with something that can guide anyone undertaking such projects in such environments by at least giving them the questions they will need to find answers to (both at the outset and on an ongoing basis) in order to put together a robust project plan. At the strategic level, I aim to cover the process of constructing and managing the inter-agency cooperation frameworks required to undertake such projects.

One suggestion:
On a recent course with humanitarian aid workers (experienced and novice), I noticed again how much the lack of a unified estimate process harmed their decision making. They still seem to rely too much on memory over deductive reasoning. If you could sell NGOs on such a decision making process, i.e. teaching their employees the humanitarian equivalent of the British Army's 7 Questions, that would be half the battle. If civilians and military were able to interface and explain "this is what we're doing and why" - and the other party actually understand what was being said and the reasoning behind it - you'd be taking one huge leap forward in interagency co-operation. Plus it would improve internal operations and planning as well. And my marriage, come to think of it.

Couldn't agree more. Hence the necessity to get down a lot of people's experiences as case studies from a range of backgrounds along with explaining that in given situations- "the Aussie mil does this, the US mil does this, and XYZ NGO does it this way". Along with providing the opportunity to learn from each other and adopt new ways of doing things, I hope that this process will allow different agencies to at least understand their counterparts' internal processes so that they can better work together.

You definitely can't create something for both the military and NGOs without getting into the heads of the latter. Hence...
1. Are you familiar with InterAction and their civil-military guidelines?
2. Humanitarian Military Intervention by Taylor Seybolt comes highly recommended.
3. Have you read:
a. A Bridge too far: aid agencies and the military in humanitarian response, by Jane Barry with Anna Jefferys.
b. Humanitarian Action and Military Intervention: Temptations and Possibilities, by Fabrice Weissman (MSF!).
c. Humanitarian Engagement with non-state Armed Actors, by Max P. Glaser.
d. Operational Security Management in Violent Environments, by Koenraad Van Brabant.
4. As you'll see from the publication origins of multiple readings above, joining the Humanitarian Practice Network is a good idea.

All hugely appreciated and precisely the sort of feedback re reading lists I'm looking for!

Thanks also for the link Beelzebubalicious!
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Old 01-28-2009   #5
William F. Owen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meh View Post
They still seem to rely too much on memory over deductive reasoning. If you could sell NGOs on such a decision making process, i.e. teaching their employees the humanitarian equivalent of the British Army's 7 Questions, that would be half the battle. If civilians and military were able to interface and explain "this is what we're doing and why" - and the other party actually understand what was being said and the reasoning behind it - you'd be taking one huge leap forward in interagency co-operation.
I'll just chip in with the fact that the 7 Questions do not work in a military context, and thus unlikely to succeed in a civilain. They are inherently flawed, and based on failure to properly teach planning and orders. There is an article of mine to this effect in the UK's Battle Notes, which upset a lot of Brigadiers, but was welcome by a lot of Captains.

In addition add that someone might want to challenge the idea that COIN is complex or that there is such a thing as a "complex" environment. It seem to be a limiting belief rather than a true or useful insight.
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Old 01-28-2009   #6
AdamHammond
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Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
In addition add that someone might want to challenge the idea that COIN is complex or that there is such a thing as a "complex" environment. It seem to be a limiting belief rather than a true or useful insight.
My understanding is that defining an environment as complex goes hand in hand with it requiring a comprehensive ie whole of government/inter-agency approach in its management.

COIN in my view definitely fits in the slot of requiring civilian and military agencies to address interconnected political, social, security and economic issues. I'll therefore be defining insurgencies as complex, necessitating a comprehensive approach, and therefore covered under my research.
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Old 01-28-2009   #7
Meh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
I'll just chip in with the fact that the 7 Questions do not work in a military context, and thus unlikely to succeed in a civilain. They are inherently flawed, and based on failure to properly teach planning and orders. There is an article of mine to this effect in the UK's Battle Notes, which upset a lot of Brigadiers, but was welcome by a lot of Captains.
Ooh, more, tell us more! I was taught the old estimate process and never used the 7 Q's. I must admit I assumed the 7 Q's were simply a more compact and equally effective version. Any chance you could send me your article?
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Old 01-28-2009   #8
John T. Fishel
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Default Look at

the literature on development. Look braodly: economic, political, social. Lots of stuff from the anthropologists, particularly relevant at the tactical level. This literature dates from the 1950s and there is a tremendous amount of good stuff that has been forgotten and/or never assimilated by others outside the disciplines that produced it. Key here is to look for stuff that is outside the places you have already looked and integrate it with your project management and interagency stuff.

Good luck

Cheers

JohnT
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Old 01-28-2009   #9
AdamHammond
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Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
the literature on development. Look braodly: economic, political, social. Lots of stuff from the anthropologists, particularly relevant at the tactical level. This literature dates from the 1950s and there is a tremendous amount of good stuff that has been forgotten and/or never assimilated by others outside the disciplines that produced it. Key here is to look for stuff that is outside the places you have already looked and integrate it with your project management and interagency stuff.

Good luck

Cheers

JohnT
Thanks John- Much appreciated.

It definitely appears that a lot of what we're up to today violates a lot of old lessons learned in civilian community development circles long ago. That old human quality of arrogance is interesting in the way we see everything as "new", simply because it is new to us!

Lt Col Mark Ulrich really impressed me in his COIN IPB seminar last year with his humility. He quite openly said "Hey look- none of this stuff is new. This seminar could have been given decades ago. It is simply that someone is giving it all to you in one place."

If the only way my project is original is that it takes the best of what is currently out there, and puts it all down in a usable fashion in one document, I'll be very happy indeed.
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Old 01-29-2009   #10
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This reference is focused on development INGOs, but it might be useful.

Mowles, C. Stacey, R. and Griffin, D. (2008) What contribution can insights from the complexity sciences make to the theory and practice of development management? Journal of International Development 20(6): 804-820.
[
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Old 02-03-2009   #11
AdamHammond
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Originally Posted by Beelzebubalicious View Post
This reference is focused on development INGOs, but it might be useful.

Mowles, C. Stacey, R. and Griffin, D. (2008) What contribution can insights from the complexity sciences make to the theory and practice of development management? Journal of International Development 20(6): 804-820.
[
Much appreciated. Keep 'em coming!
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