Culture by Choice

Culture by Choice

They say that everybody needs a hobby.  A colleague claims that one of my hobbies is kind of a guilty pleasure.

Because project failures fascinate me. Not, may I point out, in the way we tend to slow down by a car accident to see the crushed bumpers and crumpled car doors. Mostly I like to stop so I can hunt through the rubble to see how things might have turned out differently. Of course, there’s another prize in this treasure hunt – were there moments when this mess could have been averted? How can we recognize these moments so that there’s no ‘next time’?

Sometimes you just have to face an uncomfortable reality.  Project rescue becomes necessary not because you have a bad project or bad team, but because your team has a cultural environment that stymies rather than supports. And when the team’s environment gets in their way the project is way more likely to jump the track than follow the route to success.

You might be thinking ‘WHAT cultural environment?’

Well, that’s kind of the point.

There is always a team culture – an environment and unspoken ground rules that are specific to how that project team works on that project.  And even if you don’t carefully craft and nurture one, you’ll still get one. What are the odds you will get what you need from that accidental culture?

When we are called in to help a team rescue a project, we start with a diagnostic survey and series of interviews to discover the root cause. Sometimes you need new eyes, and while we’re looking around, we move right past the symptoms. Don’t get me wrong -  they’re interesting – sometimes a bit scary, but somewhere in there is a root cause (or two!) that’s responsible for the problem.

Find, then confirm, the root cause(s). THEN the team, with a bit of support, works to regain ground, whether it means some training, individual coaching, or even facilitating a re-launch of the project.

Now, you might think that we’d immediately start training people on our Key Success Parameters but no.

The secret power of a leadership driven project management approach lies in the interconnections between each of the seven parameters – each parameter is an element of higher performing teams and their cultures.  It’s the way they work in concert with each other that drives the evolution of teams into ensembles.

The debriefings we conduct with leaders are focused on what they need to do differently to get the result they want. And then we show them how to take this into other projects going forward.

This means when we work with every level of stakeholder - from sponsors to technologists, this is how the team develops a more productive cohesion.  We don’t necessarily rescue their project.  We help them rescue their project. They learn – and sometimes relearn – how to strengthen their ability to avoid the same kind of situation.  Instead, they learn ways to work together to create fewer cycles, stronger deliverables, and shorter schedules.

By doing this, the project is rescued, the team is stronger – and (shhhhhh – don’t spread it around) the new and reshaped team culture will begin advancing the entire culture of the organization - one team at a time.

If you are interested in starting the conversation let us know and we’ll arrange for your team to take a complimentary survey – have a great week!

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