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PMO - Catalyst for Change

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					PMO: Catalyst for Change

Dr. Gary J. Evans, PMP CVR/IT Consulting http://www.cvr-it.com

Topics
– – – – – Why we establish a PMO PMO implementation causes change Cultural Factors How to deal with “Unwritten Rules” Recommendations

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Establishing a PMO:
• Why do we build Project Management Offices? • You will hear lots of reasons, but they all come down to this:

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Establishing a PMO
• Something needs fixing!
• OR • We think we’re OK, but we want to be a LOT better

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Establishing a PMO
• Fixing something or making it better implies CHANGE. • In the case of a PMO implementation, some of the changes we might consider for an organization may be obvious to someone from a Project Management background:
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Establishing a PMO
– – – – – – – Project Management training Formal Project Management Methodology Improved Project Management practice PM tools (e.g. templates, PIM) Staff dedicated to conduct of projects Introduction of Program Management concepts OPM3® assessment

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Establishing a PMO
• All of this is good, and most organizations would benefit from improvements in these areas. • However, in the case of a PMO implementation, focus only on these more obvious areas may miss the mark

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Establishing a PMO
• The reason: we generally introduce these improvements with the assumption that the organization’s staff are ready and willing to accept all that the PMO would bring • In addition there is the assumption that the organization’s culture is one that can readily adapt to change • These assumptions are seldom true
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Cultural Impact
• So the first thing to realize about creating a new PMO is that:

– PMO Implementation projects are Organizational Change projects

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Cultural Impact
• Consider some typical reasons for establishing a PMO:
– Improve PM expertise in staff – Improve Project Success (i.e. lower cost, shorter timelines, better quality) – Establish a Projects Portfolio Management System
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Cultural Impact
Improve PM expertise in staff
– This goal suggests there will be a need for training, coaching, mentoring, establishment of improved PM procedures and introduction of useful tools (e.g. templates) – This may require a substantial change in the way staff view their jobs, their careers and their profession
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Cultural Impact
Improve Project Success (i.e. lower cost, shorter timelines, better quality)
– This goal suggests that there will be need for improved project planning, better cost and time estimation, perhaps the introduction of a Quality Program – This may require a substantial change in staff skill sets, intra- and interdepartmental coordination, and perhaps a wholesale change in the way the organization thinks about what it produces
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Cultural Impact
Establish a Projects Portfolio Management System
– This goal suggests that senior management will be intimately involved in the selection, review and management of the organization’s suite of projects and programs – This may require a complete change in how senior management understands its role with respect to projects
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Cultural Impact
• In every example, the end result could not happen without significant change in the thinking, attitudes and behaviors of individuals throughout the organization
• This does not happen easily!

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Cultural Impact
• So before we begin the job of PMO implementation, it is necessary that we understand the ways in which we may become involved in Organizational Change
• In other words, we must understand our role as Cultural Change Agent

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Organizational Change
• There is a rich literature on the topic of Organizational Change Management • It describes many of the factors that come into play when individuals are faced with Change • In particular, there is substantial emphasis on recognizing and dealing with “Resistance to Change”
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Organizational Change
• Resistance to Change may be characterized as:
– “Some of the Customers are not yet convinced of the great value of this project and would sooner that it go away”.

• Many of us have managed projects where Resistance to Change has been a prominent factor
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Organizational Change
• Resistance to Change can take many forms. For example, you might hear the following:
– “I don’t like this new process. It sounds like too much work” – “We don’t do things that way here” – “They tried that 20 years ago and it didn’t work” – “They’ll never get me to do it that way”
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Organizational Change
• Almost every guide to Organizational Change Management will tell you to learn where your customers are coming from, and then to speak to their fears and to their aspirations • This works to a point

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Organizational Change
• What is not often mentioned is that there may be deep cultural factors at work behind those words of resistance

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Organizational Change
• Definition of Corporate Culture:
– The beliefs, traditions, expectations and values shared by an organization’s members and transmitted from one employee to the next. The culture sets norms (rules of conduct) that influence the behaviors and attitudes of its members.

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Unwritten Rules
• There are many aspects to Corporate Culture, far too many to try to cover in the first part of this talk • However, there is one aspect that is of special importance to implementation of a PMO. That is the concept of “Unwritten Rules”
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Unwritten Rules
• Many of the beliefs, expectations and values held by an organization are encoded in a set of “Unwritten Rules” • These rules guide behavior and attitudes throughout any organization • They may be beneficial or detrimental

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Unwritten Rules
• There is no intent here to decide if a specific Unwritten Rule is “right” or “wrong”. • Rather, there is only a question of whether or not the Rule engenders behavior in the organization that is contrary to PMO Goals.

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Unwritten Rules
• These “Rules” are largely unarticulated and almost never discussed as such • They may even be dutifully followed without conscious awareness that they exist.

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Unwritten Rules
Nonetheless, Unwritten Rules hold unbelievable power over the workforce, and may be responsible for much of the ineffective behavior we see in organizations

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Unwritten Rules
• Let’s consider a not uncommon Unwritten Rule:

– “It is dangerous to report bad news. Find a way to make it sound OK”

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Unwritten Rules
• It may be difficult for any given employee to tell you that this rule exists • Even if they are aware of it, they may find it difficult to explain how they know that this rule is in force • But they will know it in their bones if this Unwritten Rule is at work in their organization
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Unwritten Rules
• The implications of this Rule for a Project Manager can be discouraging:
– How can you ever hope to get an accurate measure of project status if no one can tell you bad news? – How can you hope to deal effectively with your Sponsor if you have to be “careful about what you say”?
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Unwritten Rules
• An organization with this rule in place may go on for some time thinking that all is well with a given project, only to have the roof cave in when the staff can’t actually hide the truth anymore • Further, this kind of rule puts people in a position of having to compromise their integrity, sometimes on a daily basis. • This can have a negative impact on morale, attitudes, productivity and much more
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Unwritten Rules
• There may not be any Unwritten Rules that are universal. But there are some Unwritten Rules at work virtually everywhere. • Let’s consider some other Unwritten Rules that might have particular impact on projects:

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Unwritten Rules
• “Turf must be respected, even at the expense of cost, time and quality “ • “Your time should be spent on building the product, not on planning. Planning is seen as a waste of time”

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Unwritten Rules
• “Asking for more money is “like walking through a wall of fire on cut glass.” • “You should always state a lack of resources or risk losing what you do have or getting more work “

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Unwritten Rules
• “Never challenge authority” • “Never take risks. Even one mistake can cost you your job” • “The Customer of a project can choose to not participate in the project, but they can still complain if the project does not turn out to their satisfaction.”
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Impact of Unwritten Rules
• These rules are bad enough in the context of a single project • Imagine their impact when multiplied by all of the projects and on-going work in a large organization! • The sum total of all these rules can be a lot of very counterproductive behavior
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Impact of Unwritten Rules
• The dysfunctional behaviors driven by Unwritten Rules may be a major player in the difficulties any given organization is having with its projects

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Impact of Unwritten Rules
• And this collection of Unwritten Rules and the dysfunction they can cause is precisely what you may be running into when you are asked to implement a PMO to “fix things” or “make them better”

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Impact of Unwritten Rules
• This is all the more difficult because, as stated earlier, the “Unwritten Rules” are just that, unarticulated and generally not discussed • So if you are new to an organization, you may be totally unaware of what is at work and no one may know to warn you
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Impact of Unwritten Rules
• When these rules are encountered, the most common reaction is to simply acquiesce, since what can be done about them is not readily apparent

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How to deal with the Rules
• I propose that these Unwritten Rules are one of the major reasons a new PMO may not have the impact that was hoped for at its inception • If we can find a way to deal with these rules, we should greatly enhance the success rate of PMOs
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How to deal with the Rules
• The good news is that there is something you can do

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Step by Step
• 1. Find out what the rules are in your organization.
– Get permission from Senior Management to do this work. Remember, they may be the subject of some of the rules! – Work with your Organizational Development Officer, or – Hire an Organizational Development consultant
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Step by Step
• 2. Share your findings with the workforce
– Involve the organization’s staff in elucidation of the Unwritten Rules – Let them know what you’ve found – Be open about what impact the rules may be having on the organization

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Step by Step
• 3. Do Not Fight the Rules!
– It will do little good to tell someone “You must tell the truth now” if an Unwritten Rule enforces the opposite. Asking and employee to break the Rules will simply put them in a difficult position. Generally, the Rules will win.

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Step by Step
• Unwritten rules live deep inside of us. If you try to go head to head with them, you may simply cause the people around you to turn away from your efforts.

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Step by Step
• Remember Maslow’s triangle: Security is at the base. If people feel threatened, it can be difficult for them to focus on higher matters
• A direct attack on the Unwritten Rules can result if significant feelings of insecurity

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Step by Step
• Since any direct attempt to change the System is not likely to work, one must consider another way
• Fortunately, there is another way.

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Step by Step
• It is a general principle of Systems Thinking that “If you change the Rules, the System will change itself.” So…

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Step by Step
• 4. Change the Unwritten Rules!
– Again, we are not likely to be successful in a direct attempt at this. Instead, I recommend two approaches: • Work through a Risk Response Plan • Work at the level of Corporate Values

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Risk Response Plan
• First, be clear about what you expect out of a successful PMO. Articulate the Goals.

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Risk Response Plan
• Second, look at the behaviors of the organization that result from its Unwritten Rules. Identify those behaviors that present significant risk to specific PMO goals

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Risk Response Plan
• Third, take these elements and construct a Risk Response Plan. For each PMO goal:
– – – – What is the risk? How likely is it to occur? What would the impact be? How will you know that the risk event(s) are happening (or are about to happen)? – What steps can you take to avoid this? – What steps can you take once they occur?
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Risk Response Plan
• Fourth, get signoff on your Risk Response Plan from those individuals who are relevant to the risks.
• Last, involve those individuals who are relevant to the risks in monitoring your Risk Response Plan

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Risk Response Plan
• This approach effectively uses a Risk Response Plan as the basis for changing counterproductive organizational behavior

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Risk Response Plan
• The Contingency Plans, Mitigation Plans and Response Plans provide new and beneficial behavioral paths for the organization to follow. • Underlying these behaviors are new “Unwritten Rules” that are incompatible with the old, ineffective ones
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Risk Response Plan
• By buying into the Risk Response Plan, the organization is, in effect, changing its Rules

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Corporate Values
• In parallel with the Risk Response Plan, there is another way to approach the problem. • This involves identifying and promoting Values that simultaneously promote beneficial behaviors and discourage nonproductive behaviors associated with Unwritten Rules
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Corporate Values
• For example, if the Unwritten Rule is “Do not report bad news”, a suitable CounterValue would be “Integrity”

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Corporate Values
• If the organization can successfully adopt “Integrity” (with all of its ramifications) as a Core Corporate Value, there would be little room for hiding bad news

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Corporate Values
• Note that adoption of a new Core Corporate Value is another way of implicitly changing the underlying “Unwritten Rules”
• One could imagine that the corresponding Unwritten Rule for Integrity might be “We value those who tell it straight. Always tell the whole story.”
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Corporate Values
• Any change in Corporate Core Values will generally require involvement and active support of senior management.
• If your organization has an Organizational Development officer, that individual would likely be a key player as well

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Corporate Values
• If you wish to engage in organizational change at that level, be prepared to “be” the values that you choose to promote
• That you are a living example of the values you hold sends a powerful message to everyone around you, and is a key aspect of being a successful leader
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Conclusion
• To summarize, there are significant cultural factors that must be considered in any PMO implementation
• Among those, one must be especially aware of Unwritten Rules that may drive counterproductive organizational behavior

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Conclusion
• Unwritten Rules may be dealt with by introducing different Rules that promote beneficial behaviors • This may be done by obtaining buy-in to a Risk Response Plan that promotes those beneficial behaviors

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Conclusion
• In addition, it may be possible for the organization to adopt Corporate Core Values that will effectively displace dysfunctional Unwritten Rules

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Useful Materials
• The following templates are available from:
http://www.cvr-it.com/CVR_Templates.htm:

– – – –

EPMO Charter (Instructions and Example) Organizational Change Management Plan Risk Response Plan Program Charter

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