Enterprises As Integrators

The project and its systems engineering activities are both embedded in some type of enterprise, whether it be in industry, government, or academia. If that enterprise behaves in an integrative fashion, then a conducive environment is established within which the project is executed. If not, there is usually a negative flow-down to the project and its internal operations. A negative environment puts additional pressures on the managers within the project. Some of the issues with respect to the overall project environment have been discussed in Section 1.6 of Chapter 1.

Experience has shown that a critical factor in terms of integrative management is top management. In particular, it must encourage, support, and exhibit team behavior. As suggested by a President and Chief Executive in industry [13.7], ''teamwork starts at the top.'' Some of the points made in this regard include:

• The single most important quality is to build effective teams.

• Teamwork is a critical success factor.

• Important contributions are made by individuals in a variety of functional areas.

• The example for integrative teamwork must come from the top.

Although the top of an organization appears to be somewhat removed from a particular project, it has its definite effects, either for the good or otherwise.

Another example that exemplifies integrative management may be drawn from management literature, as previously alluded to in Chapter 1. This is Senge's ''learning organization'' [13.8], wherein five disciplines are emphasized:

1. Building of a shared vision

2. Personal mastery

3. Mental models

4. Team learning

5. Systems thinking (the fifth discipline)

The last two are of special importance in terms of integrative management. Team learning carries with it at least two important ideas. The first is the significance of teams as a critical element of successful project execution. This point has been reiterated many times in this book. The second idea is that of learning. The organization itself must adopt a position of continuous learning to keep up with its business and remain current (or ahead of the pack) in its critical technology areas. A company that is not learning soon falls behind its competition and begins to lose its key people. The trouble often is that organizations ''don't know what they don't know.'' This is a situation to be guarded against through the use of seminars, workshops, col-loquia, and bringing ''new blood'' into the company. A particularly cogent exploration of the roles of dialogue and culture in organizations [13.9] is suggested reading in addition to Senge's book.

Systems thinking is basically the same as the systems approach referred to in this chapter as well as other parts of this book. According to Senge, this fifth discipline serves as an integrator of the other disciplines. As Senge indicates, ''by enhancing each of the other disciplines, it continually reminds us that the whole can exceed the sum of its parts.'' Integrative management seeks that same goal.

As we look at the environment external to the project itself, we must also not lose sight of the customer. Integrative management means that the customer is a crucial part of the equation and that all project and systems engineering tasks are ultimately traceable to the needs and requirements of the customer. More than that, the customer is not a static concept; rather, customer focus brings a vital and dynamic force to bear on the project. Interactions on a day-to-day basis with the customer usually yield a better process and a better product. The ''customer is king'' slogan brings accountability to each and every project member, often in ways that transcend internal management oversight.

Finally, integrative management implies a connectedness to the community within which the enterprise operates. As ''no man is an island,'' no company should keep itself removed and isolated from its community. Involvements with the community foster a condition of well-being and also serve as a positive example to everyone in the company. Such involvements may include any or all of the following:

• Contributions to charitable causes and organizations

• Support for educational institutions

• Science project sponsorships

• Memberships in local professional organizations

• Chamber of commerce support

• Sponsorship of special events and sports teams

Community connectedness supports a ''world waiting to be born,'' as suggested by M. Scott Peck [13.10]. It is a basic truth for the individual and also a fundamental value for the organization.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment