Thursday, May 10, 2018

Culture vs. Vision

In the project management world, we can see the clash between culture and vision vividly.  Sponsors, companies, or clients will state what they want (vision), and then rarely change what they do (culture).  The culture continuously will outpace the vision.   

I had a chance to spend some time with Seth Godin recently.  He says, "You can't change a culture if you don't follow the vision."  He shares a story about an organization talk about wanting to have a culture of inclusiveness.  Their number one sales person was known for behaving poorly.  Several complaints were brought against him.  The company never took true action against the sales person.  The real reason is that he was their top producer.  Therefore, the actions outweigh the words.  The culture of the company trumped the vision.

I see this quite a bit in project management.  We are often hired because companies want to understand portfolio management and to be able to make better project decisions.  They think that software will solve culture issues.  While software is a great enabler, it will not solve organizational or cultural issues.  I recently heard an organization was reaching out who is an existing user of a PPM system.  They were wanting to use resource requisitions.  When I inquired as to why, the answer is because they were not getting the engagement from the resource managers and they wanted to have a better tracking mechanism to prove it.  They even removed many of the rights from the resource managers because they were not utilizing the system properly.  The subsequent result is to add a process that requires more clicks and more tracking from the people who do use the system to prove what they already know.  Why not address the actual issue?

One of the biggest cultural issues that we run into frequently when it comes to portfolio management is the resource manager.  Organizations ask to know the utilization of their staff and want the data to make better project selection decisions.  The logical source of the data is the person who is paid to supervise the staff or the resource manager.  The organization will then say, "we don't want to ask them to do it," or, "they will throw a fit because they are already to busy."  Stating that we do not have time to do resource management is the same is saying that we are too fat to diet!  It is simply not true.  It pushes many people outside of their comfort zone to have to hold people accountable.  That is a key difference between leaders and managers.  Many managers that I know want the title and the money, just not the accountability.  The crazy thing is that from company to company, what is expected is based on what the culture allows.

It is great to have a vision, the culture is what will win the day.

No Day But Today,


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