American Go E-Journal

Learning from the Stones: Go for Project Managers

Tuesday July 16, 2013

What’s a go lover to do when faced with the choice of a dissertation topic? For Grant Kerr, a doctoral candidate at the SKEMA Business School’s Lille campus, the choice was obvious. Kerr, an experienced manager of  IT and process improvement projects, had become disillusioned. “Traditional project management  . . . is limited by its rationalist, determinist, normative, first-order control paradigm,” he writes.  “It does not sufficiently consider context, strategy, irrational decision-making, nor does it deal with effects of goal and methods uncertainty such as high rates of change and reciprocal interactions between activities.”  As a longtime go player, Kerr realized that go may serve as a useful analogy to examine these issues. He notes that “the game of go has been used as a source analogue for many disciplines, e.g. military; politics (Boorman 1969; Kissinger 2011), business (Anderson 2004; Miura 1995), and mathematics (Conway 1976),” and proceeds to examine 83 identifiable principles of play.  In the end finds that seven of these principles may lead to more productive problem analysis, especially when there is strong opposition to a project. “[Go] adds a new perspective to current thinking on uncertainty. It suggests that project managers learn to deal with enduring conflict.” Kerr’s thesis is available in The Bob High Memorial Library.
- Roy Laird