Project Management Institute

The challenge of innovation in highly complex projects

what can we learn form Boeing's Dreamliner experience?

Understanding the link between project complexity and innovation is highly pertinent. Yet, the challenge of innovative complex projects has received limited research attention and little theory development. This article provides a retrospective analysis of the difficulties experienced by Boeing during the development project of its highly innovative Dreamliner aircraft. Eventually successful, this project suffered extensive delays and cost overruns. The article analyzes the project's complex nature of innovation, while using several frameworks to provide an integrative view of its challenges and suggesting possible alternative ways to address them. Insights for complex project teams and future research directions are offered.
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