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The Masters of Business Complex Project Leadership (MBCPL) comprises 22 units of study as well as executive coaching to help you expand your horizons.

Academic units

Managers of complex programs deal with “wicked problems” whose resolution requires holistic approaches, sophisticated thinking and pluralist methodologies. This unit provides foundational knowledge related to systems methodologies and their underpinning epistemologies that enable project managers to solve complex program problems in context. Models and tools are introduced for students to differentiate between reductionist and holistic approaches to problem solving; achieve creative organizational learning and navigate non-linearity from chaos through to equilibrium across orders of complexity.
Students are encouraged to learn significantly more about themselves in terms of their ambitions/goals, personality, values, and how they tend to relate to others. They will learn different methodologies for developing and changing as individuals. The course also provides an awareness of cultural differences that may exist between different countries/societies and/or organizations, and the consequences that such factors could have on the management of a project team. Students will learn how to manage themselves and make decisions to achieve a degree of work-life balance that they find satisfactory.
Complex programs are usually initiated to implement long range strategies in contexts of high complexity and uncertainty. This course examines strategic concepts and frameworks that will help the complex program leader to understand a project’s strategic context, of how it fits into the organization’s objectives and develop strategies capable of delivering successful outcomes. Strategic lenses will be applied to execute analyses of organizational, leadership and cultural influences, and produce strategic alignment even under ambiguity and uncertainty, using both traditional and innovative approaches.
Project teams are key to project, program and portfolio success. This course will examine intra and inter-team interdependencies, processes, emergent states, and how these relate to team and systems of teams’ effectiveness. Design plans will be introduced to monitor the adaptive capacity of teams and systems over time. Interpersonal and practitioner skills will be honed to manage collaboration at individual, team and multi-team levels.
Become a skilled, savvy, communicatively competent leader, capable of creating and maintaining a flexible, listening and action-oriented project environment. Gain the ability to frame ideas in rhetorically sophisticated ways and the ability to influence others to achieve diverse goals of the project. The program leader also needs to plan and promote effective organisational communication that supports the goals and processes embedded in the project. Choose the right communication channels for verbal and non-verbal effectiveness. Understand different organisational communication challenges in complex projects and how to make ideas stick.
Acquisition strategies examines how various procurement methodologies, financing strategies, and ownership mechanisms best deliver value for money, deal with the risks and opportunities across the complete lifecycle and how this links to the acquisition business case. The unit also captures the need to deal with industry development objectives, the importance of robust cost estimation, and risk sharing strategies within a suitable governance framework.
Complex programs operate within and across a multitude of legal environments and global jurisdictions. Program leaders will be able to examine and interpret environments and frameworks to comply with their legal obligations and to minimise the potential, legal and financial exposure inherent in complex programs. Intellectual property requirements and arrangements are becoming increasingly more complex in goods and services and across international boundaries. Students are enabled to better understand and produce intellectual property ownership and licensing requirements and assess intellectual property options to encourage innovation, exports and to reduce in-service costs. Positive procurement outcomes and risk allocation through alliances and partnering in cases such as R&D and sustainment contracts are also explored.
Complex program leaders learn to balance and act upon the risks that threaten success while exploiting opportunities emerging from uncertainty. An infamous but perennial feature of many complex programs is unwarranted optimism that underestimates cost and schedule challenges while overestimating benefits. This course goes beyond classic reductionist risk mitigation by applying systemic thinking and advanced risk analytics with a focus on realizing value and by considering the incentives, penalties and opportunities associated with risk transfer and insurance. Exposure to generally accepted risk management practices including international risk management standards and frameworks will be provided.
This course focuses on planning for new projects or for substantial changes to existing projects using a business case approach. The material will address gap analysis, definition of expected outcomes benefits realization, and creation of costbenefit models to support the proposed project. In addition, the use of management control systems as well as formative and summative evaluation models will be introduced. The participant is enabled to clearly articulate a business case in support of enhanced decision making and approval processes.
Essential skills and techniques are honed for leaders to deal effectively with conflict in all aspects of complex programs. This course embeds the requisite knowledge, skills and reflective abilities to identify potential sources of conflict, recognize the interplay of interests, values and personalities; and design alternative dispute resolution systems to avoid escalation of conflict. Negotiate for results by identifying and dealing with the impact of power on the dynamics of the negotiation process and effectively implement distributive and integrative strategies in negotiations.
Innovation is a key to economic development, competitive advantage and organizational performance. Course participants will gain familiarity with concepts and tools to foster innovation and identify opposing barriers to overcome. Successful implementation requires interaction between many different areas of expertise within organisations, and increasingly across organizational boundaries. Students will be able to determine the characteristics of innovative environments and the corresponding methods, techniques and concepts.
Complex project leaders need to consider the maturity of industry to provide solutions, how strategic programs can be leveraged for long term industry development and how contractual relationships can be made effective. This course explores how to select and manage long term strategic partners and the supply chain in critical industry sectors. It focuses on developing, maintaining and securing the contractual relationships within and between project partners, paying particular attention to embedding trust as a core social relation in contracts.
Exploration of differences between project, program and portfolio management. Implementation science and practice applied to complex projects, programs and portfolios.
Financial planning and decision-making competencies are examined to include analysis of the financial position of contractors or alliance partners, advanced cost estimation techniques, life-cycle costing, investment appraisal, and application of value for money criteria. Tools for project financing to raise and maintain the flow of project capital, budget and cash flow management over the project life and selection of mechanisms to protect against foreign exchange rate or inflation fluctuations, are presented. Participants analyse reallocations and contingency related to program financial performance, foreign exchange and inflation; as well as differentiate between the value of money and value for money.
Project or program leadership in chaotic and complex environments raises a whole set of new and different challenges. This course examines complex projects and programs from the point of view of creative problem solving processes, opportunity identification and implementation, and entrepreneurial thinking at the individual, team, and larger system levels. The course focuses ultimately on the shift in leader mindset from challenges representing problems to problems representing opportunities. Students will learn to map the system of complex project/program environments and strategize to meet the interests of the associated stakeholders; and use Socio-Technical System (STS) tools and techniques to identify technical and social opportunities for system improvements and increased program success.
Leaders learn how to strategically engage and enhance relationships with various stakeholders. This course provides the fundamental skills to identify potential issues and crisis areas within programs, to establish systems to understand stakeholder expectations; to manage the crisis process from issue identification through to implementing a crisis plan and debriefing, and demonstrate the importance of integrating communication and action plans as part of issues management. Students will understand the role of the media in framing public discourse, and produce effective performance in a crisis. Leaders can then generate key and critical information to meet senior decision-makers information needs and create framed messages for effective corporate communications.
Leadership within project teams is key to project, program and portfolio success. This course will examine different styles of leadership behaviour, and how they may each contribute to the success of the project team depending on the particular circumstances in which they are displayed. Students will be able to describe and recognize different styles of leadership behaviour and explain in which circumstances it would make more sense to favour one style of leadership over another, as well as determine actions to develop specific leadership styles that would be called for in certain project management situations.
Participants will analyze an organization’s teamwork, conflict, interactions, and influence among and between project teams and stakeholders, in order to provide evidence-based recommendations to enhance project success. The student will be able to Illustrate and critique theories, concepts, models, and methods relevant to the context of that organization and be able to demonstrate which evidence-based practices will help the organization realize its objectives.
Participants will individually examine an organization’s management, governance and performance in complex projects/ programs and help that organization improve, using a systems’ perspective. The student will be able to effectively communicate methods relevant to the context of that organization.
In recognition of the international nature of most complex projects, attention is given to managing across borders and cultures with multiple stakeholders. This course offers a rich learning opportunity to analyse a broad range of international projects and programs at various stages of their life cycles, through on-site visits, as well as to leverage the experience and glean best practices from world class project leaders and managers.

More Information
Participants will examine an organization in its entirety with regards to complex projects/programs and help that organization improve. Through practical application, students will be able to describe and analyse an organisation using a systems’ perspective; illustrate and critique theories, concepts, models, and methods relevant to the context of that organization; demonstrate which evidence-based practices will best help the organization and make appropriate recommendations.
In the seminar series, participants will benefit from keynote speakers delivering lectures and taking part in panel discussions. Topics and keynote speakers will be chosen to reflect current issues facing the identified application areas, best practices and new science. A mix of high-level executives and recognized thought leaders will provide students with new and innovative approaches to complex project leadership.
The public lectures series will reverse roles. This time, participants will host experts and industry leaders and deliver seminars in their chosen application area. Recent studies show that professionals can learn by teaching. The public seminar will not only benefit our participants, it will also benefit the larger community of project managers. Students will share their knowledge and experiences on complex project/program implementation aspects to stakeholders. After this course, students will be able to research, analyse and critique evidencebased practices in complex project/program management gained from the program through implementation.
Selected aspects of complex project leadership not covered by other graduate courses.
Applications dealing with current advances in complex project leadership, not covered by other graduate courses.

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