|Towards a Project Management Culture|
"Lately I've been hearing a lot of buzz about this concept called Project Management Culture. What is it, and why would I want one?" the puzzled CEO asked me.
This question is being asked daily by executives around the globe, and the answer can have a profound impact on your organization.
"Let me answer your question with another question," I replied. "Tell me how your organization makes decisions. How does everyone know what they need to do, and how it fits into the big picture?"
"Well, every year we publish a strategic plan," the CEO answered. "Our strategic plan covers all the important aspects of our business. It includes:
"And how do you translate these strategies into action?" I asked.
"We undertake strategic initiatives," said the CEO. One eyebrow went up, and I could see the light bulb coming on. "Hmmm, our strategic initiatives are temporary and unique. They're projects aren't they?" He could definitely see where I was headed. "But only some of our projects are successful," he said.
"Is an occasional success good enough?" I asked.
"No. We need to be consistently successful." I could see that he was reaching the conclusion I had hoped for. "So what you're telling me," he continued, "is that having a Project Management Culture is about making sure that the strategic initiatives we undertake are a success."
"Absolutely," I replied. "A Project Management Culture (PMC) is really about consistency. As you've pointed out, some of your projects are successful, while others are not. Implementing a PMC means that you are being deliberate about project success, repeating what works and avoiding what doesn't.
"Organizations that are serious about project success, focus their efforts in three distinct areas. First, they implement processes to make sure the organization is working on the 'right mix' of projects. We call this Management of the Organization's Project Portfolio.
"Once the projects have been selected, it's important that they be well executed. We call this focus on delivery Management of the Individual Projects.
"Finally, it's essential that your projects are set up to succeed. Most organizational processes are designed with the needs of ongoing operations in mind. Projects are a little different, and it's important that their unique needs are also met. We call this Management of the Organizational Environment.
"An organization that does well in all three dimensions has a Project Management Culture."
"Makes sense to me," he said, "but the devil is always in the details. Tell me more."
"Okay," I replied. "It's probably easiest to define a PMC in terms of the 'end state.' You'll know you've arrived if your organization has the following in place:" and I proceeded to walk him through the detail elements shown below.
Management of the Organization's Project Portfolio
Management of the Individual Projects within the Portfolio
Access to Information for Decision Making
Knowledgeable and Skilled Team
Management of the Organizational Environment
Visible Management Commitment
Human Resource Practices
This CEO was typical of mosthis organization was strong in some areas and weak in others, and he focused his improvement efforts accordingly.
So how do you decide if a PMC is important for your organization? Having a Project Management Culture is not an end unto itself. It's a means to an end - achievement of your organization's strategic objectives.
This should be of interest to every CEO and every senior manager of every organization!!