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Abstract

IT project management research largely adopts a negative approach with an emphasis on risks, problems and failures. Although that approach has led to important theoretical and practical insights, this study adopts a positive approach to explore complementary ways to improve current practices. Accordingly, we report from a small software firm, TelSoft, in which we applied appreciative inquiry (AI) to identify “win-win contracts” as generative metaphor for IT project management and to develop action strategies to manage scope, time, cost, and quality in TelSoft’s IT projects. As a contribution to the IT project management literature, we show how the generative metaphor and related action strategies were developed at TelSoft and discuss relationships to existing theory, most notably Theory W. In addition, as a contribution to the participatory change literature within the Information Systems discipline, we show how AI and the four steps of initiating, inquiring, imagining, and innovating were applied at TelSoft to learn about existing strengths in IT project management and to improve current practices through a series of workshops for project managers. We present the AI process in detail and discuss our experiences in relation to other approaches to participatory change.

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