Project Life Cycle, PMBOK4, organization, Toby Elwin, blog

Change management, project management, and the intervention

Toby Elwin, PMBOK4, project management, change management, human capital, people, organization change, OD, organization development

The Relationship Between Stakeholders and the Project | PMBOK 4.0

Overwhelmingly, organizations rely on process analysis to identify opportunity for savings. Process analysis is most commonly identified as change management.

Change Management: Analyze and diagnose business and operations processes with a focus on the greatest areas of improvement in cost, schedule, and quality.

Change Management is the Illness

Very few enjoy having themselves and their work process diagnosed for inefficiency. Change management, or its red-headed step child name: business process re-engineering, never account for motivation or talent development in its audit. Without motivation you can not accurately assess cycle time or throughput.

People do not willingly choose an inefficient process, a process is usually adopted as a workaround and becomes part of the work. Under any microscope, people don’t enjoy the realization that they are inefficient or eagerly divulge their role to contribute or perpetuate inefficiency. Still others resist the wholesale autopsy that change management, process analysis, or business process re-engineering brings because they believe they will be laid off as soon as their knowledge is cataloged.

Who benefits under this scrutiny?

Project Management is the Symptom

Projects are the means to achieve organizational goals and objectives. Projects deliver a strategic plan’s objectives. Without a strategic plan from an executive level there is no way to identify criteria of project success or which projects to start or stop.

Project Management: Identifies requirements to address various needs, concerns, and expectations of the stakeholders as the project is planned and carried out. Project management balances organization and project constraints included, but not limited to: scope, quality, schedule, budget, resources, and risk.

The latest version of Project Management Institute’s A Guide to the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK 5.0) refers to:

  • The word project 6,030 times,
  • The word process 1,841 times,
  • The word change 760 times,
  • The word results 234 times, and
  • The word people 49 times

It takes people to deliver a project, execute a process, manage change, and deliver results and the largest professional organization in the world, The Project Management Institute, has a people to process ratio of 1:37.

Project manager’s brush with talent management is through the talent within the project team, but not the people, team, or organization’s performance, capacity, or culture.  The hope is a robust stakeholder plan includes all the people need.

Does it mean people are only 0.008% important to a project’s success? Is the minimization of people the reason why roughly 65% to 75%, about 3 out of 4, projects fail?

I would say a 25% success rate is an unusually high rate of luck when I think about how little people seem to be valued.

Your Organization Develops or Dies

Neither change nor project management seek to understand, leverage, and develop an organization’s culture or people. Without people at the front of any change effort to participate, envision, and understand their role in the change and the impact the change or project has on their very livelihood, it is no wonder the majority of projects fail. But why are people and organization culture not considered more genuinely in projects, changes, mergers, acquisitions, and strategic intentions?

If your company has 5 projects underway, the statistical likelihood all 5 projects will succeed is less than 1% [0.35*0.35*0.35*0.35*0.35=.005].

No gambler would accept those odds, but yet you and your leadership do. Even worse you continue to expect new results from old habits. Isn’t Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results?

Intervention Awaits, but Wait

Organization Development: a planned intervention(s) using behavioral science principles to change a system and improve its effectiveness through holistic participation, collaboration, and learning of the organization and its members

Most or all definitions of organization development (OD) describe:

  • A planned process intended to bring about change (Change Management)
  • Through the use of various interventions (Projects)
  • Using behavioral science knowledge theory, research, and/or technology, and
  • Have an organization or system-wide focus

The greatest barrier to OD acceptance is that many OD practitioners do not have the ability to evaluate business impact or deliver business results in context of an OD intervention.

Behavioral Science? Holistic? Intervention? This does not sound like business, but a therapy session.

Organization Development the Cure? Not Quite Yet

Organization Development has ~75% success rate. However, OD will never take a seat at the business table until we practitioners become better at scoping, managing, and delivering any intervention as a project with a budget, time line, risk assessment, quality standard, clearly defined scope, and criteria to measure an OD project against other business options.

No executive would evaluate a capital finance opportunity without an identification of risk and the payoff weighed against a portfolio of options similarly analyzed, but continue to sign off on projects throughout their organization that will most likely fail.

  • All OD involves change management; change management does not involve OD.
  • All OD interventions are projects; all OD professionals do not manage their interventions as project managers.

Until more OD practitioners take it upon themselves to learn project management, we will continue to see executives and organizations look to change management as their savior and not understand why the project failed.

Isn’t it our responsibility to educate ourselves and make any compelling case for change or development as a business partner, not simply an OD advocate?

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