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Managing project problem‐solving patterns

Steven Cavaleri (Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, Connecticut, USA)
Joseph Firestone (Executive Information Systems, Inc., Alexandria, Virginia, USA)
Fred Reed (Thrivesigns Consulting, Honey Brook, Pennsylvania, USA)

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business

ISSN: 1753-8378

Article publication date: 20 January 2012



The purpose of this paper is to present a process for managing project problem‐solving patterns. It focuses on shifting the emphasis of project teams toward a more collaborative and knowledge‐based style of dealing with challenges to project performance. The methods proposed in this paper encourage project managers to integrate processes for becoming more agile by tapping into lesson learned and knowledge gained to create higher quality solutions to problems.


This paper proposes a conceptual framework for recognizing problem‐solving patterns and transforming problem solving from an individual passive event to a more open, agile active, systemic process. Several actual case examples are provided to illustrate applications.


The paper examines how taking a more open approach to problem solving in projects leads to better solutions. The proposed method and lessons from actual cases offer support to these proposals.

Research limitations/implications

The proposed models in this paper originate from the conclusions and observations drawn by the authors over many years of experience. However, they are not the product of a systematic research effort. This paper is intended to provide a new lens for project managers to view projects. It does not purport to declare findings of any research or analyze any sort of research.

Practical implications

The conceptual framework provided in this paper is a practical one derived from the practices used in leading companies. The paper provides practical guidelines to aid project managers in recognizing and managing problem‐solving patterns to create better solutions to problems.

Social implications

Modern society is plagued by the effects of ineffective problem‐solving initiatives in business, government, and not‐for‐profit organizations. Flawed proposed solutions exact a toll on organizations, their members, and the constituents they serve. This paper proposes a way of improving the quality of problem‐solving processes that may benefit a broad scale of people.


The concept of a problem‐solving pattern and a typology of problem‐solving patterns presented in this paper, provide project managers with a new way of conceiving of how problem solving can be used to improve project performance and adaptability.



Cavaleri, S., Firestone, J. and Reed, F. (2012), "Managing project problem‐solving patterns", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 125-145.



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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited