- Owner/Founder Project Rescuers
- Management Consulting
"If your culture is not aligned with your strategy and methods, you’re going to have a problem with your project"
Projects by their very nature are somewhat unpredictable. Budget, timelines and scope can shift leaving your project vulnerable to going off the rails. When these shifts happen, uncertainty on project viability arises among team members, vendors and clients, as a result, other activities on the project suffer as team members are unclear about next steps.
In your role as project manager, you have a tool you can use to address uncertainty with the project team and external stakeholders. This tool is organizational culture. Culture is understood generally as "the way we do things around here". Culture is developed using the organization's mission, vision and values.
The purpose of culture is to serve as a guide as to what you want people to think, feel and believe when at work. This usually develops as a combination of formal and informal interactions.
With both formal and informal cultural practices in place, your job as the project manager is to align both of these ways of thinking. Consider the formal culture as what we want to be and the informal culture as the way we really are. So when the project receives a hit to the budget, timeline or scope, move quickly to pull your team together to strengthen shared bonds and work commitment using culture as the glue to bring you all onto the same page.
Be sure to convey to external stakeholders the same message that reflects the mission, vision and values that guide the project activities and will result in a good project outcome.
- Learn and understand both the formal and informal culture. Understand the mission, vision and values of the organization.
- Observe how these are expressed in the organization through the key behaviours, beliefs and mind sets people hold about their work
- Listen to what people say about the work informally. This is what people are thinking, feeling and believing about their work. The issue isn’t that the project is facing some challenges, the issue is how the team responds to these challenges that will shape the outcome.
- Use this information to shape the human resource plan of your project. Use this to get everyone on the same page, make clear that team functioning is also an important project outcome. Use this momentum to solve some solutions to deal with challenges to timelines, scope or budget.
Your project will face challenges along the way. Strengthen your response by building a strong team based on the formal and informal culture and get both internal and external stakeholders on the same page.