Building a Project Centric Culture

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In the volatile and unpredictable climate we find ourselves in, it is impossible to guarantee each and every Project will be a success on all fronts and achieve all desires impeccably. However to have a fighting chance one must build a Project centric culture within their organisation.

The environment, values, attitude and other enterprise environmental factors within the company alone can “Make or Break” The Project.

A project simply does not operate in a vacuum and is directly impacted by and has an effect on the cultural norms, procedures, policies, risk tolerances, standards, and many other factors of the organisation they are part of.

It is essential to engage a professional and proven Project Manager whom utilises tried and proven approaches and methodologies to lead the team and steer The Project.

Recruiting, engaging and retaining the right personnel is equally as important and then holding all Team Members Accountable is a must.

However even the best Project Manager won’t ensure the success of The Project, unless they are empowered and provided with authorisation and set up to succeed.

The company structure and organisation dictates whom has the power and authority to make what decisions and ultimately whom has control of The Project. The relationship between The PM and team members will vary substantially dependant on the authority of The Project Manager and structure of the organisation.

In a Projectized Environment, teams are organised around Projects and The Project Manger makes all of the decisions surrounding the Budget, Schedule, Resources and Quality. In this environment The PM ultimately is responsible for the success or failure of The Package of Work.  

On The “Flip Side”, in a functional workplace, whilst there may be a small number of dedicated Project Team Members, the majority of employees are members of a functional department (e.g. Finance, Engineering) and are loaned to the Project on a needs by needs basis. The Project Manager is more likely to be part time and assume an Expeditor or Administration Role with little to no responsibility and all decisions are made by The Department or Functional Manager. Often in a Functional or Weak Matrix atmosphere, Project Management and resourcing the endeavour is looked upon as a burden and disruption to day to day operational tasks.

A systematic arrangement aimed at accomplishing the purpose of the Project shaped by the common experiences, of the collective whole of the organisation are most likely to succeed in accomplishing the objectives of the project.

Culture is often hard to define or explain but you will know when you see and feel it!

Often an attempt to explain the culture may be “How we do things around here” or “The way we do things”, however a Culture is seen, felt and experienced across all functions and all personnel in the company.

A worthy project centric culture is an environment that demonstrations respect for the Project and inner working and a shared commitment for a successful outcome. Every hour and dollar spent must count toward the delivery of the scope and accepted and endorsed by the organisation as a whole rather than seen an unnecessary overhead.

Project management cultures can’t be bought, made-up or imagined. They must be real and need to be built from the ground up and driven from the top down by the Company and The People.

Cultures are unique and specific to an Organisation, Project, Work Group and Individual Team.

Take a step back and ask yourself “Does the culture of my Business have the best interests of The Project and Project outcomes in mind?”. If not what needs to be changes and how are we going to build a Project Centric Culture? And ensure our Projects have the best chance to make it.

Ray Turner

Principal Ray Turner Consultants