In this two-part article we’ll explore the risks and rewards in creating a productive culture. In part 1 we’ll reveal the research and options. Part 2 will reveal the 7 elements, which demonstrate that there is a productive project culture.

What is a Productive Project Culture?

Corporate project culture is the commonly held attitudes, values, beliefs and behaviours of an organization’s employees. It reflects the demonstrated values and principles of the workplace and permeates everything an organization does.

Organizations that have spent time to define and create a project management environment will have aligned all of their projects to overall corporate and departmental strategy and educated everyone working on a project so that they know what their part is in making the project successful. Staff won’t have to locate a Project Management Office or other group of individuals and/or their own manager to tell them how to manage a project, what tools to use, what templates to use, and so on. Project Management in these environments will have become a competency embedded into everyone’s role. This truly reflects a Productive Project Culture.

Productive Project Culture Risks & Rewards

There are two major risks to consider, for an organization, when moving into a truly productive project culture:

  • The risk of not bringing in a more disciplined approach to the management of projects.
  • The risk of bringing in a more disciplined approach to the management of projects.

As well, there are rewards reaped by organizations:

  • That stay away from a disciplined approach to the management of projects.
  • That move towards a disciplined approach to the management of projects.

The Dilemma…

How to weigh the risks and rewards of either approaches and select the best one for your own organization.

Risks and Rewards Door #1

The risk of not bringing in a more disciplined approach to the management of projects and the rewards associated with this.
The best way to understand this approach would be to review some research:
The 2004 PriceWaterhouseCoopers Survey of 10,640 projects valued at $7.2 billion, across a broad range of industries, large and small found;

  • Only 2.5% of global businesses achieve 100% project success
  • Over 50% of global business projects fail.

The Chaos Survey by The Standish Group reports similar findings;

  • 71% of all projects are either “challenged” (due to late delivery, being over-budget, or delivering less than required features), or “failed” and are cancelled prior to completion or the product developed is never used.
  • Their statistics have not effectively changed since 1994.

Business Improvement Architects research of over 750 global companies found:

  • The missing element is a culture where working effectively on projects is accepted as “just part of what we do.”
  • 60% of Project Management Offices say that the organizational culture is not supportive of the PMO.
  • The major reason for project failure is that most organizations do not ensure that all projects they implement align with their organization’s corporate strategy.
  • Performance management systems do not take into account new reporting structures such as Matrix Management.
  • Few organizations clearly define and consistently use project success measures from one project to another and usually fail to capture and retain project knowledge.

What are the Risks of not bringing in a more disciplined approach to the management of projects, based on these research studies?

  • Risk of exceeding budgets.
  • Risk of wasting valuable resource time on non-customer and quality focused tasks.
  • Risk of not meeting Strategic Goals & Objectives set by the senior management team.

What are the Rewards of not bringing in a more disciplined approach to the management of projects, based on these research studies?

  • Reward of maintaining status quo.
  • Reward of continuing to improve based on past experiences and strategies.
  • Reward of missing key organizational strategies.
  • Reward of demotivated staff.
  • Reward of major retention issues.

Conclusion:
Risks seem high and the Rewards aren’t really the kind that organizations seek.

Risks and Rewards Door #2

The risk of bringing in a more disciplined approach to the management of projects and the rewards associated with this.
This door is more complex. Bringing in a disciplined approach to the management of projects is filled with risks, which are really challenges, butt the rewards are tangible.

The process of moving to a more disciplined approach includes many steps that are logical, yet when systematically implemented, help to create a positive impact on the organization, its customers and its staff. So if we turn the concept of risk into Challenges, we can define a strategy to systematically manage these challenges.

This strategy, for the senior management team includes:

  • Understand what it is.
  • Understand your role in ensuring its success.
  • Understand the organizational limitations.
  • Understand how to structure the organization.
  • Understand the drivers and linkages to strategy.
  • Understand how to manage it.
  • Understand how to measure it.
  • Understand how to reward it.

Understand what it is
First, what it is not

  • It is not a function of the Information Technology or Systems department.
  • It is not the function of one person to drive and direct throughout the organization. This lesson is learned from quality, where many organizations selected a person to become a Quality Manager and drive quality throughout the organization. When that person left, so did quality.
  • It is not an isolated strategy, managed separately from other initiatives i.e.; quality, training, strategic development, etc.

It is:

  • The application of specific knowledge, processes and techniques to organizational strategies and quality initiatives in order to meet or exceed stakeholder needs and expectations.

Productive Project Culture Risks & Rewards Summary

Yes, there are risks to consider, for an organization, when moving into a truly productive project culture. However, yes, there are Rewards reaped by organizations. Part 2 of this article will identify the 7 characteristics of a productive project culture and provide some actions you can take in ensuring these are successfully realized.

Michael Stanleigh

Michael Stanleigh, CMC, CSP, CSM is the CEO of Business Improvement Architects. He works with leaders and their teams around the world to improve organizational performance by helping them to define their strategic direction, increase leadership performance, create cultures that drive innovation and improve project and quality management. Michael’s experience spans public and private sector organizations in over 20 different countries. He also delivers presentations to businesses and conferences throughout the world. In addition to his consulting practice and global speaking he has been featured and published in over 500 different magazines and industry publications. For more information about this article you may contact Michael Stanleigh at mstanleigh@bia.ca