Process Change Relies on Cultural Change

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Making the change to consistent project management, even in very large organizations, could theoretically be accomplished in a few months. In this scenario, the right team analyzes the organization, recommends the proper changes, and implements standards. Training follows to bring everyone up to speed. Change happens.

Why is it that the change often takes years to accomplish? Perhaps the most commonly ignored risk factor in the change process is the realization that people have to both understand and believe in the change. No matter how much authority is behind it, if project teams or project leaders resist the change, it will be a slow, torturous journey. Recognizing the risk of this kind of resistance, let's look at some options for reducing it.

Some firms are beginning to include change management specialists in the team that sets up the project office. This isn't change management in the sense of controlling scope or cost, but organizational change management, which includes "people issues." So right from the start these specialists focus on the issues that create resistance, incorporating organizational development techniques to smooth the transition.

Abraham Lincoln is credited with saying that we'll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. That means that the change agents—the people in the project office—must be able to sell persuasively instead of simply trying to enforce change. Too many project office staff alienate their stakeholders, and even their sponsors, by demanding rigid adherence to the new processes. They justify a totalitarian management style by the need for immediate change, while insisting that "we're only doing what's best for the organization." Unfortunately, authoritative enforcement of standards ultimately demands more energy, as the role of the project office changes from mentoring to policing. This method often leads to total rejection of the new idea. Instead, project office staff and leadership should be evangelists— fervent believers, experienced practitioners, and tireless supporters of the new techniques. They need to realize that their mission is to change hearts and minds, and that their job is as much about selling as it is about schedule and budget analysis. If they are abrasive, condescending, or inflexible, they will close any open minds and poison their own message.

In implementing project management in his unit at Boeing, Steve Weidner has paid close attention to winning support from stakeholders. "Experiment, learn from users what adds value and what does not It was amazing to see how much resistance came down when we changed from pilots—which inferred the system was a done dealto experiments, which left the users with the ability to influence their own destiny."3 It should be obvious that people who are involved in making decisions are more likely to take ownership of the result.

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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.

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