Complex Relationships

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This study identified several areas where relationships are complex. For example, our data

suggest that the amount of documentation has some causal relationship with the amount

of documentation success — however, this is probably not a linear relationship at all

values. At some point increasing the documentation by one unit provides less than one

unit of additional value but continues to cost one unit of time and money. At some point

additional documentation may start to erode documentation success, where success is

viewed in cost/benefit terms. It also includes multi-directional relationships. Our data

suggests that there is a relationship between the success of individual projects and the

success of the management of project development as a portfolio in the organization.

However, the direction of this relationship could go either way. The success of the

organization’s project development might simply be conceived as the accumulation of

outcomes from each project — the sum if you will. This might be influenced by overall

policies, tools, and approaches, which may differ among three groups of stakeholders,

the IT management, IT workforce, and of the larger business influences. On the other

hand, these same policies, tools, and approaches at the departmental level may influence

the success of each project. Note that policies might be applied with wisdom differentially

where appropriate to different projects, or they might be applied uniformly helping some

projects and retarding others. Note also that some types of policies, perhaps pertaining

to standardization or reuse, would have dramatic impact while others pertaining to

documentation style or change management would have less impact given different

circumstances and projects.

The nature of these relationships might be difficult to detect from the causal mapping per

se, but hints can be detected where different interview participants use terminology

differently, remark on relationships from different perspectives, point out contingencies,

or otherwise describe complexity in their responses to questions. The process of coding

statements noting causal elements and effect elements tends to blunt the observation

of these “semantic” level observations. However, in the consolidation of maps, these

tend to show up as variations among elements described by different individuals. Mining

the interesting aspects of these complex relationships requires returning to the original

text and also some interpretation, inference, and imagination on the part of the investigator.

Imagination isn’t a term normally associated with “scientific studies,” but in the

sense that the investigator recognizes that an interviewee is describing a relationship in

a particular context and that the relationships could have different aspects outside of that

context by imagining or envisioning alternate scenarios, can help bring out the richness

of the phenomena, even if it does extend beyond the literal statements made by the

participants.