How to change the world?
the next generation of project managers
You think you can't change your world — think again! The next generation of project managers are ‘changemakers’; they don't just manage and lead change, they make change happen. Even though project and program performance may have increased over the years and more projects are delivered on time and within budget, they are not necessarily perceived successful because they fall short in achieving their objectives and fail to cause sustainable change. This paper discusses the need to push the boundaries of project management and think holistically and leverage the discipline of change management as an integral ingredient for project and program success. This paper outlines a need for a shift in mindset and lists the key imperatives for the next generation of project management and project managers. In addition, the paper highlights how project managers and program managers need to shift from managing and leading change to impactful change-making. It will discuss how project managers need to believe that they change the world, to increase their effectiveness and assume responsibility and accountability for overall project success.
In the beginning the world was whole, but at some point in the history of things there was a great accident, which scattered the wholeness of the world into infinite number of tiny sparks of wholeness. These sparks fell into all events, all organizations and all people, where they remain deeply hidden until this very day. The whole human race is a response to this accident. We have been born so we can discover and uncover the hidden spark of wholeness in all events, organizations, projects, and people. So restoring the wholeness of the world is not only a function of our expertise, it is also a part of our birthright as human beings. We have the power to further the wholeness of things just as we are, with our listening, our belief, our empathy and seeing the world and our challenges in a connected way.
— A 14th century wisdom story, paraphrased by Rachel Naomi Remen, MD.
Change is less about fixing a broken world and more about uncovering the hidden wholeness and remembering our personal power to make a difference. In the organizational project management world we are used to taking a narrow view of change and change management as it relates to project management. The emphasis is on managing change or leading change, instead of a holistic view of making change and owning the change.
The Need for a Holistic View
Even though project and program performance may have increased over the years and more projects are delivered on time and within budget, they are not necessarily perceived successful because they fall short in achieving their objectives and fail to cause sustainable change. According to a 2012 McKinsey/Oxford study, an average of 56% of projects (IT sector) had a benefits shortfall, less benefits realization than predicted. The same study acknowledged that an average of only 7% projects were behind schedule and 45% over budget, which is a considerable improvement over previous such studies.
Our own experience over the last thirteen years of working with multiple fortune companies that have implemented project management and project management office (PMO) practices have improved their project performance with better on-time and within budget criteria; however, a common CEO comment is: “Project performance has improved, but so what? End users and customers are not necessarily happy; they are not using or buying the product or the system!” The missing elements are the key questions of customer and end-user adoption and satisfaction with the product or service of the project. More and more there is a realization of the need for a deeper understanding and broader application of change management and various aspects of organizational change management (OCM) that need to be considered in concert with organizational project management practices. This is especially true in today's ever-increasing turbulent ‘DANCE’ – Dynamic and changing, Ambiguous and Uncertain, Non-linear, Complex, and Emergent and Unpredictable OPM environment (Duggal, 2010; 2012).
Elements of change management appear throughout Project Management Institute's (PMI) foundational standards but were not specifically identified as “change management.” Recognizing the need for addressing this issue and better integrating the discipline of project management with change management, PMI has published a timely practice guide: Managing Change in Organizations: A Practice Guide (PMI, 2013). The guide describes how, “regardless of the extent or maturity of OPM in an organization, portfolio, program, and project management needs to increase the effective practice of change management inherent in the PMI foundational standards so that strategy can be executed reliably and effectively…It sets the practices, processes, and disciplines on managing change in the context of portfolio, program, and project management, and illustrates how change management is an essential ingredient in using project management as the vehicle for delivering organizational strategy.”
This is a much needed step to understand, apply and make change management an integral part of organizational project management. Just as in project management, the practice of organizational change management (OCM) has gained a lot of momentum over the last couple of decades. There are over 900 books on the subject just on amazon.com alone and numerous articles, training programs and OCM consultancy; yet, the failure rate of change initiatives has remained consistent at 70%. The latest thinking on the subject comes from the well-known authority and bestselling author on change management, John Kotter. In a recent Harvard Business Review article, “Accelerate” (Kotter, 2012), he explains: “The hierarchical structures and organizational processes we have used for decades to run and improve our enterprises are no longer up to the task…In fact, they can actually thwart attempts to compete in a marketplace where discontinuities are more frequent and innovators must always be ready to face new problems.” Kotter offers a solution, “a second operating system, devoted to the design and implementation of strategy that uses an agile, network like structure and a very different set of processes. It complements rather than burdens the traditional hierarchy, thus freeing the latter to do what it's optimized to do. This is not an “either or” idea. It's both and.”
In addition is the classic eight-step change process Kotter outlined in Leading Change:
1. Establishing a sense of urgency;
2. Creating a guiding coalition;
3. Develop a change vision;
4. Communicate the vision for buy-in;
5. Empower broad-based action;
6. Generate short term wins;
7. Incorporate change into the culture; and
8. Never let up
He also proposes five guiding principles in his new work:
1. Many change agents, not just the usual few appointees;
2. A want-to and a get-to — not just a have-to — mindset;
3. Head and heart, not just head;
4. Much more leadership, not just more management; and
5. Tow systems, one organization — the network and hierarchy working in concert.
There is a need to bridge the two disciplines of project management and change management to enhance and complement each other in a holistic way. Kotter's change process and guidelines, along with the numerous other appropriate change management models and techniques, coupled with the framework and guidelines outlined in the PMI Change Management Practice Guide can prove to be helpful and enhance the success rate of change initiatives and project and programs. However, to make all this work, there is additionally a need for a fundamental shift in mindset that needs to happen both at the organizational project management (OPM) level and from the individual project and program manager perspectives.
From Managing Change to Change Making — Need for Changemakers
A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Fifth edition (PMI, 2013) provides an overview of change as it relates to project, program and portfolio in the context of organizational project management as follows:
“Project managers expect change and implement processes to keep change managed and controlled.” “The program manager must expect change from both inside and outside the program and be prepared to manage it.” “Portfolio managers continually monitor changes in the broad environment.”
This view of change as it relates to OPM limits the perspective to managing, controlling, and monitoring change. There is no holistic perspective of ownership and responsibility for the success of the change. As a result there is an inherent dichotomy between delivery and adoption, or implementation and the use of the product or service. Project managers are not responsible for the end-use or success of the initiative or product or service. There is a need to shift this perspective, particularly in today's turbulent ‘DANCE’ project environments, with high stakeholder expectations with increasing complexity and uncertainty. The next generation of project management needs to be based on a holistic and integrative view rather than a reductionist and procedural view.
Whether you are a project manager or program manager you will benefit from a shift in perspective from managing and leading change to change making. ‘Changemaker’ is a term used in the context of social entrepreneurship. A changemaker is one who desires change in the world and, by gathering knowledge and resources, makes that change happen. It is a term popularized by the social entrepreneurship organization, Ashoka. I believe this term is much needed in project management to cause a shift and bring about a different perspective. A changemaker isn't someone who simply manages change and wishes for change; he or she makes change happen. Changemakers have the ability to transform; they influence the outcomes through responsibility, ownership, and determination.
A blog post from Lessons and Stories from Future Changemakers explains, “There is one main difference between changemakers and the rest of the world. Most people desire change; many know what they would like to see different in the world, and some even know how it could be done best. There is a higher class of people who act to see their change happen; many of these fail. However, this is where changemakers differ: they make their change happen. Using a combination of knowledge, resources, and determination, they push through until their dream becomes truth, and then push some more.”
Managing Change versus Making Change
It is important to distinguish between managing change and making change. Exhibit 1 summarizes the key points of distinction between a Change Manager and a Change Maker.
|Change Manager||Change Maker|
Manages and leads change
Owns the change and makes change happen
Focuses on goal and end-date
Focuses on goal with a long-term gaze
Control and alignment
Accommodation and adjustment
Focuses on execution and delivery
Focuses on end-user adoption and experience
Ownership and accountability of deliverables and outputs
Ownership and accountability of results and outcomes
Change resistance and control
Embrace and acceptance of change
Constraint as limitations
Constraints as opportunities
Manages and leads from the top-down
Manages and leads from the bottom-up
Hands (tactical) and head (strategic)
Balance of hands, head, and heart (behavioral and emotional)
© J. Duggal 2013
How to Change the World? Key Imperatives for the Next Generation of Project Management
As organizations try to deal with the turbulence of today's ‘DANCE’ project environments there is recognition of a need for a shift in perspective and a broader view of project management. The next generation of project management is holistic and integrative with an understanding that project success cannot be isolated within the boundaries of the project, but is dependent on complex, organizational, cultural, behavioral, and other aspects. Following are five key imperatives for the next generation of project management:
From Managing and Leading Change to Making and Owning Change
The recognition of integrating and leveraging the discipline of change management with project management is a much needed move; however, there is a fundamental shift that needs to happen from managing and leading change towards the idea of making and owning change. Traditionally project managers manage change to deliver the project. However the responsibility and accountability for the change taking place is detached; there is no direct sense of ownership of the change as a result of the project. Execution and delivery are measured separately from results and outcomes. The project manager's perspective is that it is not his or her responsibility whether the change happens or not or whether the end users change, adopt, and use the products, systems, or services of the project. The next generation of project management needs to emphasize the ownership and accountability of ensuring the change takes place to position and enable the achievement of the desired benefits and outcomes.
Re-definition of Project Success
How do you measure project success? The initial idea of the triple constraint of time, cost, and scope was a framework to track and monitor projects. Over time, it has also become a de facto method to define and measure project success. While the triple constraint is necessary, it is not enough. Projects that are delivered on time, within budget, and meeting scope specifications may not necessarily perceived to be successful by key stakeholders.
Besides time, cost, scope and quality, what are the other criteria for project success in your organization? We asked this question of project stakeholders in a survey conducted by the Projectize Group in 2008-2009. Participants identified Stakeholder and customer satisfaction; Meeting business case objectives; Customer/end-user adoption; Quality of delivery; Meeting governance criteria; and Benefits realization as more important to defining project success.
An important concept to understand is that time, cost, and scope are related to project outputs, whereas the other factors are related to business outcomes. Based on today's project environments, project managers need to broaden their perspectives to include other criteria to satisfy stakeholders and deliver business results. Sample approaches for re-thinking the triple constraint were highlighted in PMI's Community Post article, “How Do You Measure Project Success? Re-thinking the Triple Constraint” (Duggal, 2010).
Ownership and Accountability of Benefits and Outcomes
Traditional project management assumes responsibility and accountability of execution and delivery of the project. Ownership and accountability of the benefits and outcomes of the project are not the responsibility of project management. It is typically argued that the ultimate adoption or realization of the benefits is not the responsibility of the project manager. It is not fair to hold the project manager accountable whether the product or service or system is used or not. This argument promotes a limiting behavior of change resistance and control, focusing narrowly on the constraints, and finger pointing when there are problems or shortfalls in the realization of benefits.
Another argument is that the ownership and accountability for benefits realization is the domain of program management. Program management by definition deals with managing strategic change and benefits realization and is well suited to address this challenge. According to the PMI Pulse of the Profession™ study only 27% of the organizations surveyed have mature program management practices. As organizations try to mature their OPM practices, they find it hard to articulate and implement program management. As one CEO of a large organization that struggled to implement program management practices commented, “it was much easier to mature our project management practices and implement portfolio management, but we are finding it hard to articulate and implement program management even though it makes a lot of sense in theory. We are dealing with a lot of complexity and we wish we could organize it all neatly into projects, programs, and portfolios.” There is a need to deal with the attainment of benefits in organizations that have not yet implemented program management, or do not have the OPM maturity to do so in the short-term.
Balance Process and Behavior
Traditional project management focuses on process and emphasizes configuration and procedural aspects of change. An important element often overlooked is behavioral. Process in itself does not guarantee change in behavior. There is a realization that the more important aspect of change is the people-side of change, which involves change at multiple levels, including, psychological, emotional, and neurological changes. The people-side of change typically does not get adequate attention because it is much harder to understand and deal with. The next generation of project management emphasizes the importance of the people-side of change and the need to balance — the hands (process /content/what and how/tactical), with the head (reason/context/why/strategic) and heart (emotional/behavioral).
Focus on Stakeholder Experience and Adoption
The quality management knowledge area of project management emphasizes the quality of the product or service, which is the technical aspect of the product or service being delivered. Another facet is the quality of the delivery or the manner in which the project is delivered. From a stakeholder and end-user satisfaction standpoint this is critical and becomes an important criterion for project success.
Next generation project management also needs to emphasize stakeholder experience and adoption as an integral part of stakeholder management throughout the project life cycle. This stretches traditional stakeholder management to the idea of stakeholder intimacy to empathize with the stakeholders and focus on experience, which will ultimately lead to better adoption and use of the products and services of the project.
How to Change the World? Key Imperatives for Next Generation Project Managers
There are numerous change management models, processes, techniques, and tips that have proliferated over the last two decades. The following are key imperatives from a project management perspective that next generation project managers need to adopt:
Belief and Passion for the Cause
How can you change the world if you don't believe in your cause? An essential ingredient for success is a deep sense of purpose, belief, and passion for your project. Your attitude about the purpose of the project is going to impact your project environment and how you interact with your team and stakeholders. Next generation project managers believe in their projects; they are selective and take on projects that they believe in. They have a deep sense of purpose and inspire their teams and stakeholders with the same. They also believe that they make a difference and with every project they are changing the world in their own ways.
Goal with Gaze
Traditional project managers are focused on the goals and end-dates. They strive hard to deliver the goals within the project constraints. Next generation project managers understand that is important but they have a long-term gaze. They try to achieve the goals, but with a long-term perspective. Traditional project managers measure success in terms of the end-date, whereas next generation project managers worry about the project and measure success way beyond the end-date and focus on increasing adoption, user experience, and ultimately project outcomes and benefits realization.
Think like an Owner
There is an old anecdote about two stone-cutters toiling in the heat of the day, while a passerby asks them: “What are you doing?” The first laborer saysL “Can't you see, I am cutting a stone in this heat?” while the other responds, “I am building a magnificent castle.” There is a world of difference between these two points of view and the attitude and behavior it promotes. Imagine if, everyone in the organization at every level behaved with a sense of ownership of their actions, results, and outcomes in everything they did. This is exactly what one financial services client is cultivating and promoting the idea: ‘think like an owner’ at every level in the organization. They are changing a culture of blame and finger-pointing to one of ownership and accountability. Next generation project managers think like an owner and take responsibility, ownership, and accountability for the results and outcomes.
Use Hands in Sync with the Head and Heart
Traditional project management focused on change with the hands (process/configuration oriented). Over the years there has been a realization that there is a need to focus on behavior and emotions (heart) as well. Lasting change needs a balance of three dimensions — the hands (process/content/what and how/tactical), with the head (reason / context /why/strategic) and heart (emotional/behavioral). Most change efforts are strong in one or the other approaches, but there is a need to balance all three. Next generation project managers understand their strengths and try to complement and balance the hands in sync with the head and the heart.
Provide Justice and Practice the 4 E's
Resistance and buy-in are common challenges for any change. ‘Project justice,’ (Duggal, 2010) is based on the idea of fair process and procedural justice from the work of two social scientists, John W. Thibaut and Laurence Walker, who combined their interest in the psychology of justice with the study of fair process. Their research established that people care as much about the fairness and justification of the process as they do about the outcome. This idea was further researched and developed as a management concept (Chan & Mauborgne, 1997). They discovered that people will commit to a manager's decision and change — even though they might disagree with it — if they believe that the process the manager used to make the decision was fair and justified.
Fair process is based on three mutually reinforcing principles: engagement, explanation, and expectation clarity. For project justice, you might consider an additional element, empathy:
(1) Engagement means engaging stakeholders throughout the project life cycle and proactively seeking their input particularly in aspects of the project that will affect them the most. Engagement provides a sense of confidence that their opinions have been considered.
(2) Explanation details the decisions and makes sure the stakeholders understand the key points. You cannot assume that decisions are self-explanatory or straightforward. More importantly, explanation should also provide the background of why project decisions were made. This provides people with the context as they try to assimilate and adapt the changes from the project.
(3) Expectation clarity describes the “new rules of the game.” It requires clarification of the expectations and consequences brought about by the project.
(4) Empathy involves putting yourself in the shoes of your stakeholders to understand and feeling the pain that the change is going to bring about. This helps you better plan to make the change process fair and just and connect with them from their perspective.
Design for Change
Behavioral change is hard, even if it is a matter of life and death. Only one in seven heart patients can change their behavior, even when doctors tell them that they will die if they don't, according to a study referenced by Kegan and Lahey in their book, Immunity to Change (Kegan & Leahy, 2009). It is said that to change somebody you might have to perform surgery. Instead of focusing on changing the behavior it can be more effective to focus on design and changing the environment to impact the behavior. For example, one organization that struggled with a typical silo mentality, re-designed their office environment to a flat open workspace to promote collaboration. Next generation project managers apply design-thinking, which is a discipline that uses the designer's sensibility and methods to match people's needs and environment to impact behavior (Brown, 2009). Design-thinking extends the traditional focus on deliverables and outputs, to experience, optimization, and outcomes (Duggal, 2010). Next generation project managers look for opportunities to enhance end-user experience, and thus increased adoption and success of their projects.
Leverage the Network
To propagate the change next generation project managers understand and utilize the power of networks. They decipher the intricate maze of relationships and their impact on projects by performing a stakeholder network analysis and they use the outputs to design and influence interactions. Stakeholder network analysis analyzes the connections of nodes and ties by mapping the network of stakeholders in your project environment and identifying the key nodes and identifying the gaps between stakeholders that might need to be bridged. They know how to leverage the network by identifying the positive deviants and providing a platform to amplify and propagate their message.
‘Positive Deviance’ is an approach to personal, organizational, and cultural change based on the idea that every team, community or group of people performing a similar function has certain individuals (the “Positive Deviants”) whose special attitudes, practices/strategies/behaviors enable them to function more effectively than others with the exact same resources and conditions. Organizational positive deviance is defined as “intentional behavior that departs from the norms of a referent group in honorable ways” (Spreitzer & Sonenshein, 2004). Because Positive Deviants derive their extraordinary capabilities from the identical environmental conditions as those around them but are not constrained by conventional wisdoms, Positive Deviants’ standards for attitudes, thinking, and behavior are readily accepted as the foundation for profound organizational and cultural change.
Know how to DANCE
Next generation project managers recognize and understand the ‘DANCE’ — Dynamic and changing, Ambiguous and Uncertain, Non-linear, Complex, and Emergent and Unpredictable reality of today's project environment.
Instead of resistance or control, they anticipate and accept it, and are well prepared to deal with it. They know that change is inevitable and they are ready for it. They know how to dance by balancing the scope, plan, execute and control approach with sensing, responding, adjusting and adapting to better prepare for change.
It is well established that project managers manage change and program managers lead change. To improve project and program success rates and have a lasting impact, the next generation of project and program managers needs to be the changemakers that make change happen. It starts with a belief that project managers indeed change the world in their own way. They have to think holistically and take responsibility and ownership for results and outcomes, not just delivery of tasks and outputs.
If you want to change the world, you have to be a changemaker. The next generation of project and program managers are changemakers, who simply don't just manage change and wish for change; they own the change and make it happen. They have the ability to transform because they see the wholeness and they can connect and influence the outcomes through responsibility, ownership, and determination.
There is an old saying, everyone thinks of changing the world, but nobody thinks of changing themselves. Changing the world starts with you. As you discover the spark of wholeness, you will start to connect things and deliver projects and programs with impactful and lasting change. The change has to start with you. This may lead to your team, your organization, your community and eventually you will have changed the world in your own way.
In conclusion, Apple Inc.'s famous ‘Think Different’ ad campaign provides the appropriate perspective to understanding the power of changemakers — from Gandhi and Einstein, to Martin Luther King.
So here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels and trouble makers. The round pegs in the square holes. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
— Apple Inc., Think Different Ad Campaign
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© 2013, Jack S. Duggal
Originally published as a part of 2013 PMI Global Congress Proceedings – New Orleans, Louisiana