Copyright to Michael Cavanagh, © 2011.
Abstracted from original writings and reprinted with permission.
Published August 2011

Editor's Note | Introduction 
Pearls of Wisdom - Management | Pearls of Wisdom - Process
Pearls of Wisdom - Delivery

Michael Cavanagh has been an independent for over twenty years in a number of business sectors. In recent years, his focus has been on the use of systems thinking techniques for "forensic" analysis of major project failures. He has done so by deploying a combination of Soft Systems, the Viable Systems Model and tools and methods developed specifically for the task. Michael is also an ordained Anglican priest in the Church of Ireland and is currently responsible for the churches of the Kenmare and Dromod union, Co. Kerry. He can be reached at

Editor's Note

Michael Cavanagh has chosen to write a book making an important case for consideration of a "2nd Order Project Management". As he puts it, "1st order is about doing things the right way" that is to say, with a view to applying process rigor according to published standards and guidelines. However, he goes on to say "the common element of 2nd order approaches is that they are targeted solely towards the achievement of the deliverable purpose by whatever means. 2nd order is about delivering the right thing." We shall look forward to his book with interest.[1]

However, our special interest in this presentation is on a selection of the observations expressed by some of the experienced project leaders that Michael interviewed for his book. These were first published in A case for 2nd Order Project Management presented in PM World Today, July 2011 (Vol. VIII, Issue VII).[2] To these observations we have brazenly added a few editorial comments of our own.


1. Michael Cavanaugh's book, to be published by Gower later this year, introduces "2nd Order" program management concepts and the need and justification for their application to highly complex projects. The book is aimed at both practitioners and senior sponsoring management.
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