Implementing an Organizational Structure

When you have chosen an organizational structure suitable to the conditions of your project environment, you may find some resistance to implementing it, especially if you have a low power base. This section will give you some background to help implement a change in the cultural fabric for the project team.

Suppose that the characteristics of your project as indicated by analysis using Table 13-1 show that a strong matrix organization would give the project the best chance of success. But long-entrenched functional managers in your organization have most of the power and outweigh project managers by a considerable margin. How do you "sell" sponsors on the idea for changing the organization to one in which the software development project manager has more power than the functional department heads? This can be a political minefield, but a few important ideas can help you navigate it.

Table 13-2. Characteristics of Projects by Organizational Structure

Project Characteristics

Functional

Matrix

Projectized

Weak

Strong

Uncertainty

Low

Moderate

High

High

Technology

Standard

Standard

Complex

New

Complexity

Low

Low

Medium

High

Duration

Short

Medium

Medium

Long

Size

Small

Small

Medium

Large

Importance

Low

Moderate

Moderate

High

Customer

Diverse

Diverse

3 or 4

One

Interdependency (Within)

Low

Medium

Medium

High

Interdependency (Between)

High

Medium

Medium

Low

Time Criticality

Low

Moderate

Moderate

High

Resource Criticality

Depends

Depends

Depends

Depends

Differentiation

Low

Low

High

Medium

Source: Youker, Robert (1977). "Organizational Alternatives for Project Management.''Project Management Quarterly, 8(1):21.

First, recognize—and then convince your associates—that special project circumstances require a special organization. Emphasize that a project is a temporary endeavor to achieve certain goals and that this doesn't represent a permanent power shift. Sometimes the entrenched functional managers don't believe in project management concepts at all (whether they will admit it or not) because they did not rise to their position of power in the organization by using them.

Understand that any organization's culture is in equilibrium and that any change to it seems threatening. What you want is a change in overall group behavior, to recognize and accept the new organizational approach. People go through four stages when implementing a major change to their world:

1. Awareness— People get familiar with the terms that represent an initiative or a new process and have a perception of the accompanying issues.

2. Questioning/understanding— People get an understanding of what the change or initiative is and appreciate its implications and importance to their organization.

3. Acceptance— People have the knowledge needed to be intellectually prepared and understand how the initiative affects their job and/or functional organization, and how they can contribute to the success/failure.

4. Ownership— People become personally committed to making the initiative successful in their department and at their job.

These stages must be passed through to achieve the change. When Stage 4 is reached, people will embrace the changes and try to make them work. Stages 1, 2, and 3 require individual attitude adjustments through knowledge. Figure 13-15 shows that personal power is a good approach to changing knowledge and individual attitudes toward a change. This is persuasion through expert and information power, mixed with charisma. Positional power can mandate group behavior (like having a powerful sponsor announce a change), but it doesn't have too much effect on changing individual attitudes. The impact of approaching the change from the personal power side in the lower left diminishes the farther to the upper right you go. Likewise, the impact of positional power from the upper right diminishes as you move toward the lower left of the figure. So, the cultural change problem must be approached from both directions.

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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