The value of project management to Canadian government organizations, or do values add value?

First findings of two case studies

KATHY COWAN-SAHADATH, MBA
PhD Student, Fielding Graduate University, Santa Barbara, CA Project Manager, Hydro One Inc., Canada

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” Albert Einstein

Introduction

Research into understanding the benefit of project management to organizations so far has been limited (Thomas & Mullaly, 2005, 2006). Based on this shortcoming, the Project Management Institute (PMI®) in 2004 called for proposals from researchers interested in better understanding the value of project management and its implementation. In response, a team of researchers has successfully submitted a research proposal, including a comprehensive conceptual and rich data collection approach (Thomas & Mullaly, 2004).

The preliminary research findings presented here have been harvested by one of the research teams within the framework of this comprehensive PMI-funded research project. We will first summarize the major elements of the general research approach as well as the additional particular research interest and methodological approach of this case study team. We will then present and discuss the two case studies and their first findings; further detailed analyses remain to be conducted in order for the final results to be presented in the summer of 2008.

Our Context: The Value of Project Management Research Project

The overall project was based on the understanding that details about the implementation of project management in an organization were paramount. Furthermore, in trying to explore what has actually changed in that organization and why, the research methodology needs to include asking individuals within the organization as well as observing what is and relating this to theories of organization and organizational change. In particular, project management implementation within an organization needs to be understood within the context of the organization's strategy and environment (Constructs of Organizational Context). The impact of project management implementation on the delivery of projects also needs to be qualified further (Construct of Project Management Implementation). Finally, the real benefit of project management implementation to the overall organization needs to be identified (Value Constructs) (Thomas & Mullaly, 2006).

To standardize the results of the data collection, a joint framework for discussing the value of project management (implementation) has been identified, consisting of the following five levels (Thomas & Mullaly, 2006, pp. 10-11):

  • Satisfaction of stakeholders with the organization's project management implementation
  • Aligned use of practices within the organization
  • Process outcomes and improvements gained through project management implementation
  • Business outcomes based on project management implementation
  • The resulting return on investment

These frameworks were applied by various teams in over 60 case study organizations across the globe, covering different industries and sectors. Data were collected on various organizational levels (including internal and external stakeholders) through interviews, inspection of existing process and project documentation, observation of project management practice, and comprehensive analyses of existing data.2 These multiple data collection methods should help create a truly organizational picture for each case. Furthermore, comparison of the case studies within each team and across teams will help identify relationships between the various constructs.

The Concepts of Values and Meaning in Project Environments

Our research team was particularly interested in an additional perspective: the question of how personal and organizational values as well as meaningful work and project environments would influence the interplay between the constructs of project management implementation, organizational context, and value constructs and how they might contribute to added value for the organization.

Values have been found to be “essential for encouraging cooperation, inspiring commitment, nurturing creativity and innovation, and energizing the organization's members around a positive self-image” (Paine, 2003, p. 12). They appear to significantly contribute to a compelling sense of purpose beyond making money.

For project environments in particular, the importance of an attractive vision and a shared set of values and beliefs have been stressed (Keegan & Hertogg, 2004; Kendra & Taplin, 2004). It has been identified as a significant project success factor and contributor to business outcomes (Briner, Hastings, & Geddes, 1996; Christenson & Walker, 2004; Norrie & Walker, 2004). In addition, cooperation and commitment among teams of people “are significant drivers to high project performance.... [They] are greatly enhanced when project leaders foster a work environment where people see the purpose and significance of their projects” (Thamhain, 2004, p. 45). Creating “a more powerfully committed team … [with] a deep sense of purpose and vision” has even been argued to be “the essence of good project leadership” (Norrie & Walker, 2004).

These findings seem to support Viktor Frankl's research on the importance of values and meaning (Frankl, 1946–1991, 1997) and its translation into work and project environments (Boeckmann, 1980; Covey, 1989; Martin, 2000; Terez, 2000; Pattakos, 2004; Mengel, 2004, 2005, 2008; Mengel & Thomas, 2004; Thomas & Mengel, 2007). However, foundational research on the significance of discovering meaning in project environments for the organizational context has still been missing; this research project and this paper are contributing to filling that gap.

Additional Research Questions

In addition to contributing to the generic research approach of the larger project, our particular perspective focuses on studying the connection and correlation between project and organizational performance on one side, and the level of support for the discovery of meaning in the various dimensions of working environments, as well as the level of meaning actually discovered and actualized, on the other. Based on Frankl's categories of meaning and the actualization of values—creational, experiential, and attitudinal values (Frankl, 1988)—we have collected and interpreted data in pursuit of the following questions:

•   Which areas and elements of the project management context (e.g., infrastructure and tools, practices, people, training) support the discovery and actualization of meaning and how do they do so

•   in the creative aspects of work in and around projects (e.g., creating products, services, and processes that are perceived as being meaningful)?

•   in the experiential aspects of project work (e.g., experiencing relationships with others that are perceived as being fulfilling)?

•   in the attitudinal aspects within project environments (e.g., mastering challenges by reframing ones perspectives)?

•   In which aspects of project work (creative, experiential, and attitudinal), how and to what extend do project stakeholders discover and actualize meaning in project environments?

•   To what extent and how does a meaningful project management context (meaningful work, experiences, and attitudes) contribute to increased project or organizational performance?

Methodology

Our analysis has first been based on the research framework of the larger project and on the generic data collected for further analysis within this overall research project. All data in our cases have also been used for the deeper analysis of the values and meaning perspective and were forwarded to the central data base of the bigger research project. Furthermore, we have translated our particular approach into additional categories and perspectives to be applied in the data collection within our cases. Finally, the data and preliminary findings will also feed into a deeper follow-up analysis of the constructs of values and meaning, the results of which will be presented in the summer of 2008.

For the purpose of this paper, two Canadian government organizations—one provincial and one federal—have been chosen from a set of five case studies conducted by the authors. The two cases were selected to explore the particular findings that may be derived by studying organizations within a similar context: both are Canadian government organizations focused on IT services and organizational processes. However, since comprehensive statistical analyses using the quantitative data of all case studies of the overall research project still have to be conducted in order to be able to compare individual cases on a quantitative basis, this analysis and the discussion of its results need to focus on qualitative approaches.

To enrich our overall case study we have adopted the approach of coding and deriving at categories from grounded theory methodology when analyzing our case data (Strauss & Corbin, 1994, 1998). Furthermore, a preliminary content analysis using the Leximancer software (Smith, 2007) has been applied to the interview transcripts.

Case Study 1: Regional Health Authority (RHA)

Description of the Case

Our first case is the information systems (IS) department of a Canadian provincial Regional Health Authority (RHA). IS caters traditional IT services as well as project management and business analysis services to the RHA. IS is headed by the Chief Information Officer (CIO), who reports to the Vice President–Operations, and is home to the 12 project management and project management office (PMO) staff who service both IS and the RHA.

Project management implementation started several years ago with the introduction of very basic processes and templates. Major triggers were the increasing complexity and number of projects, as well as the emergence of best practices. The major objectives were to improve project performance, to accelerate project delivery, to increase organizational credibility, to align with external expectations or commitments, and to adhere to recognized standards.

In January 2006, a PMO was created within the IS department. The objective was first to implement methods, tools, and processes comprehensively within the IS department and for projects conducted by or with the help of IS project managers. Second, the PMO was to serve as a centre of excellence within IS and beyond. Third, the PMO provided project management assessment as well as coaching and development for project managers and team members. Finally, the PMO formalized project reporting and delivery. The PMO manager, a former IS project manager, is part of the IS management team and participates in the project selection and prioritization process of projects managed through IS. Currently there still appears to be a significant number of projects that are managed through other departments of the RHA; however, the IS PMO is increasingly approached for support by non-IT-projects in the organization.

Description of Data Collection and Data

Nine semi-structured interviews have been conducted with senior management and sponsors, the CIO, the PMO manager, and project managers. Eighteen online surveys have been completed by project managers, employees, customers, and suppliers. Furthermore, the researcher has inspected the process and project documentation on-site and captured the results of project and project management-related observations. Finally, the RHA provided project-related data on three particular projects, as well as organizational data. In parallel, the researcher has continually filled in and updated the researcher data collection form.

The first cycle of open coding of the transcribed interviews has resulted in the following themes: improvement, benefit, and impact, as well as satisfaction, purpose, and positive feeling. They have been conceptualized as “value of project management” and “meaningful work,” respectively. While further and more detailed cycles of coding need to be conducted to be able to enter the stage of theory formulation, some first elements have emerged.

Similarly, an initial content analysis has been conducted comparing individual interviews as well as analyzing the responses in total.

Analysis and Interpretation of Data Collection

The majority of projects conducted by IS are internal to the department. However, other departments increasingly require project and project management support from IS because of the growing recognition of IS's project management expertise and project success. Driving project priorities are meeting the project objectives, contribution to continuous improvement, and client perception.

The organization currently has 29 integrated project management procedures implemented that are based on A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) (PMI, 2004) and 41 different templates in use by roughly 75% of the projects within IS. These processes and templates comprehensively span all PMBOK® Guide process groups and knowledge areas. Some processes appear to be fairly integrated into the overall organization. All processes are formally managed in close cooperation between the PMO and the project managers, as well as the project sponsors—mostly senior management—and project customers.

Overall, the culture is primarily customer-focused and innovative, yet to some degree conservative and risk-averse. Customers are the patients seeking care in the hospital, as well as the departments providing this service. These customers may not be put at risk and medical services need to have priority.

Customer service has clear priority over cost efficiency in the organization's business model. The strategy is primarily determined in response to customer needs and to provincial requirements. Its implementation is conducted in close cooperation with customers. Furthermore, the organization consistently tracks the delivery of customer value.

Highly customized and project-specific project management training obviously played a major role in improving project management capabilities. All projects within IS use Microsoft Project, risk management templates, dashboard reporting templates, project archives, and some elements of portfolio management. While additional project management tools, including knowledge databases, are being used by 50–60% of the projects, improving the usage of lessons learned was clearly identified as a priority for future efforts of the PMO.

Value of Project Management—Five Levels

The case study data in general, as well as the concept of “value of project management,” have been cross-checked with the five levels of value introduced earlier.

Satisfaction of stakeholders with management of projects and with project management implementation is consistently rated high. Project management processes are perceived to have had the biggest impact on the organization within the overall project management implementation. Employees highlighted clearly documented, easy-to-understand, and applicable project management practices and policies as particularly important outcomes of project management implementation.

Furthermore, pride about being a project manager and high satisfaction with project management as a career, as well as the highly valued professional development and high support received from the organization, demonstrate significant attitudes toward project management within RHA.

Aligned use of practices are reported and demonstrated on a high level. Projects well adhere to guidelines and consistently deliver on objectives, as well as on schedule; less so on outcomes and on budget. This is clearly perceived as an improvement in result of project management implementation. The implementation of the PMO is consistently perceived as a crucial and valuable step of project management implementation.

Process outcomes reported as major benefits of the project management implementation are better project performance, client satisfaction, improved project control, more effective communication, knowledge management, improvement in the organizational culture, and greater project transparency. These benefits also are demonstrated by documentary evidence. In particular, the vast majority of nine projects concluded in 2006 have been delivered according to specifications (8/9), on time (7/9), on budget (9/9), and meeting the success criteria (8/9) (Mengel, 2007a). Furthermore, inspection of the detailed documentation of three projects of equal strategic value has revealed further evidence for the clear benefits coming from the recent efforts of project management implementation. Finally, the satisfaction of the project sponsor, users, and the project team as self-assessed by the PMO continuously increased over the last years (Mengel, 2007c). Obviously, it is

being recognized that there is a direct relationship there between using the methodology and having successful project and delivering the product…. We have a reputation of being able to deliver and the reason we can, because everybody understands what they're doing and they're doing it when they need to get it done and that is a result of PM [project management]. (Mengel, 2007b)

A business outcome in result of project management implementation is the increased “business” the PMO receives based on their growing recognition within the organization. Furthermore, various reviews with the team, users, and sponsors track value realization for about 75% of the projects. Customer satisfaction is a key performance indicator measured by the organization, scoring at 98.3%, based on a validated survey of patients. This measure—including the number of customer complaints—is reported in the corporate Balanced Scorecard (Mengel, 2007a). Finally, the successful implementation of project management practices and processes including the PMO have repeatedly been shared and discussed with health and IT service audiences on a provincial and national level (Mengel, 2007b).

Return on investment is difficult to account for within this provincial organization. Financial accounting for project management implementation has not been considered a high priority. Hence, accurate and reliable financial numbers for both expenses and returns are lacking.

Value of Values and Meaningful Work

In the following, we will discuss how some elements supporting the discovery of meaning are being used by the organization and its employees to actualize meaning.

  • Creative aspects—producing meaningful “results”

As a health service organization the RHA in general, as well as IS, demonstrate a high customer and patient focus. Successful delivery of projects goes beyond delivering products, and this is clearly acknowledged by senior management:

It … gives them a sense of accomplishment, it gives them a sense of being connected to the enterprise, it gives them an opportunity to contribute and understand … how [their work] relates to the larger operation and to the success of the organization. (Mengel, 2007b)

Providing and improving adequate tools, policies, and guidelines contribute to the ease of doing what needs to be done and to the feeling of competence in doing so:

People are satisfied with their job, they feel they have the appropriate authority to make decisions to do their job, they feel they have the appropriate tools and they want to do more. In general they want to do more for their end user. (Mengel, 2007b)

Project management implementation is perceived to have had a major impact on increasing the effectiveness of the work environment. Being able to more efficiently focus on service within the overall context of health allows many to unfold their motivation to do well unto others and to clearly discover purpose and meaning in what they do:

The one of the things that I find is really important as an administrator and a leader is getting people to feel empowered and engaged and more connected to what they do … People [do] feel a greater sense of satisfaction and they are also not working in a vacuum. (Mengel, 2007b)

This focus has repeatedly been expressed in the various interviews. Furthermore, people and care have emerged as primary, highly weighed concepts in the content analysis of the interviews. For senior management, people, project,

process, care, and health (in that order) are the most important concepts. For the project manager, project, management, people, organization, and care (in that order) are the prevalent concepts. Hence, while different organizational levels may have different sources of meaning, people, project, and care appear to be at the centre of this organization's meaningful work environment.

  • Experiential aspects—experiencing meaningful relationships and sensemaking

Close and successful cooperation with competent others and the resulting satisfaction of customers and patients, as expressed by employees on all levels, clearly provide ample opportunities for meaningfully relating to others. Providing training opportunities and supporting the respective efforts of employees help create communities of learning and offer professional networking. Finally, the clarity of roles and associated responsibilities and authorities as experienced at RHA help create the transparency that makes communication and cooperation more efficient and effective.

  • Attitudinal aspects—sensemaking, framing, and reframing

The experience of putting people first, of being valued, of being in control, and of making progress provides time and opportunity for making sense of challenges and changes. It helps employees to trust in the process or to even delay the sensemaking if developing the new frameworks takes time. The context of providing health services may help sustain the trust and continuous joint sensemaking of employees.

Case Study 2: Canadian Federal Bureau (CFB)

Description of the Case

Our second case is the Information Technology (IT) division of a Canadian Federal Bureau (CFB). This division of about 120 people is a planning, consultation, and application services organization, including the project management office (PMO). The division is headed by a Deputy Chief Information Officer, who reports to the Chief Information Officer.

After having started tracking statistics on information technology projects, the government recognized that improvements were required. The IT environment had been described as follows:

  • Initial project definitions were inadequate
  • Senior management's understanding, involvement, and support were lacking
  • Client focus and involvement were insufficient
  • Review process was incomplete
  • Project management discipline was inconsistent
  • The project manager's experience often did not reflect the project's size and risk
  • Changes were not rigorously managed
  • Project performance and progress was poorly measured and reported
  • The culture discouraged open discussion of problems and their resolution

In 2001 the government acted upon the identified shortcomings to achieve better alignment of departmental resources in support of business objectives and program delivery. A PMO was established to develop and implement an enhanced framework for the management of IT projects. As a result, project managers meet regularly to provide advice and review proposals and documents from the PMO. Furthermore, the PMO consults with departments, other governments, and the private sector to identify successful practices that could be adapted for use in the federal government.

Description of Data Collection and Data

Nine semi-structured interviews have been conducted with sponsors, managers, project managers, and with the PMO manager; furthermore, three online surveys have been completed. At the same time, the researcher has inspected process and project documentation on-site, reviewed online intranet project management templates and frameworks, and captured the results of project and project management-related observations.

The first cycle of open coding of the transcribed interviews has resulted in the following themes: value of project management methodology, improvements of particular project management performance indicators, impact of the PMO function, and impact of project management framework on culture. In comparison to our first case study, these themes have again been conceptualized as “value of project management” and “meaningful work,” respectively. Finally, an initial content analysis of the transcribed interviews has been conducted.

Analysis and interpretation of Data Collection

The PMO promotes good project management practices and facilitates project portfolio management. It also ensures that departments continuously track and control their projects. Finally, the PMO serves as a single source of information on project and service data across the enterprise, linking the executive vision and the operational work, and facilitating constructive collaboration and overall risk management. Driving project priorities are meeting the project objectives, realization of the business case, client perception, and improvement in organization's capability.

Departments are required to have a strategic plan describing the department's information and technology strategy, and to consistently align their projects accordingly. Furthermore, departments prioritize investments using an institution-wide strategic planning process and project approval must be based on a business-case analysis. Finally, departments are accountable for the successful completion of projects. This has encouraged more active participation of senior management in their projects and in project management implementation.

Clients and other stakeholders are fully involved in all project phases to ensure that systems meet their business requirements. They also need to formally commit to the level of effort required to meet their project responsibilities.

A new project framework for the management of information technology projects has been introduced, consisting of the following elements (Mengel, 2007d):

  • Governance: a mechanism balancing the government's corporate requirements with departmental needs
  • Review: effective mechanisms for monitoring the status and assessing the performance of projects
  • Facilitation: a set of best practices, processes, guides, and templates that will support and assist departments
  • Professional development: developing project managers who are trained in common methodologies and tools
  • Leading projects: using and assessing new ideas and solutions in operations
  • Communications: initiating and supporting communications within the project management framework across departments
  • Management of Change: introducing and acceptance of changes in attitudes and cultures

The PMO's role is to establish and maintain the implementation of this framework.

Value of Project Management—Five Levels

The case study data in general, as well as the concept “value of project management,” have been cross-checked with the five levels of value introduced earlier.

The Satisfaction with management of projects and project management implementation is high, but slightly lower than in our first case study. However, interviewees confirmed the existence of a positive project management culture. In particular, they described the adoption of project management practices and the organizational change efforts that focused on project manager competencies, deployment supporting management processes, organizational project structures (cross-functional teams), and performance measurements at the individual and project levels. From all the components of project management implementation, project management processes and governance processes appear to have had the biggest impact on the organization.

Aligned use of practices is reported to be on a satisfactory level. Again, the implementation of the PMO has consistently been discussed as a crucial and valuable step within project management implementation. However, there are mixed messages about the consistent delivery of projects regarding objectives, schedule, budget, and a business case.

Process outcomes reported as major benefits of the project management implementation demonstrated by documentary evidence are client satisfaction, greater project transparency, better project performance, improved project control, improvement of organizational culture, and more effective communication.

Business outcomes are, by the nature of the organization, difficult to identify. However, interviewees clearly indicated that multi-project coordination has direct links to company strategy and operating plans:

We are now at the point where it is possible for someone to go to a bureau management meeting and very quickly review the status of major projects, … to look at the status of the annual business plan and see which projects are linked and how they are progressing. (Mengel, 2007d)

Return on investment is difficult to account for in regard to this federal organization.

Value of Values and Meaningful Work

In the following, we will discuss how some elements supporting the discovery of meaning are being used by the organization and its employees to actualize meaning.

  • Creative aspects—producing meaningful “results”

Interviewees indicated that project management implementation has increased satisfaction within the work environment. The existing project culture demonstrates the participants’ positive attitudes toward the employment of project management practices and improved performance of the organization. The respondents recognized the need to work within a project management framework that consisted of competent project managers, cross-functional project team structures, with supporting business processes, and performance measures. The employees’ awareness of their contribution to improvements; organizational strategy and goals; and cultural change has repeatedly been expressed. Furthermore, the content analysis of the interview transcripts have identified projects, people, department, and work as the most important concepts. That clearly demonstrates the importance of people and projects in the work of the department and the employees’ perception of their department as a meaningful work environment. Furthermore, employees have often expressed their pride in contributing to the “national effort” of the Canadian government. Finally, the existence of adequate tools and templates also has contributed to this perception:

This was like getting a gift when you have a project to do. And I had visions of everybody having my small, medium, and large templates and the process all on their walls. (Mengel, 2007d)

  • Experiential aspects—experiencing meaningful relationships and sensemaking

Improved cooperation and communication with colleagues and other departments facilitated particularly by the implementation of the PMO have clearly reduced the employees’ perception of working in an IT silo and increased their feeling of connectedness to the bigger picture of the national cause. Their increased pride in the joint efforts and improvements, as well as in the resulting increased customer satisfaction—internal to the government organization—is almost tangible and is being mutually reinforced:

Remember, we work for the [government].... We're not in the IT business. We are in the … [government] business. … So what have you done today for the business? … Everything we do here has got to be with that in mind, and I really think that people think that way, they feel they're part of a larger organization, part of a larger national effort, you see, and I think that's the way human beings are motivated. (Mengel, 2007d)

  • Attitudinal aspects—sensemaking, framing, and reframing

The support of the corporate values as expressed by the participants can be expected to help reframing and making new sense in light of necessary changes within the organization. While differences did exist between the employees from one business unit to another and between different hierarchical levels within the units, the existence and use of personal values as basis for professional decision-making, prioritization, and leadership styles and behaviour can be expected to contribute to the continued commitment of employees to the organization and, as a consequence, to the ongoing performance of the organization, even when facing increased external and internal challenges (Kouzes & Posner, 2002, p. 50).

Conclusive Summary

Two case studies, both IT service providers within Canadian governmental organizations—one provincial and one federal—have been conducted within the framework of a larger project studying the value of project management in organizations across the globe. This study was particularly interested in understanding the value of values and meaning in the context of project management implementation and project environments.

As statistical analyses still have to be conducted before comprehensively comparing these two cases, as well as putting them in the context of the quantitative data of the larger research project, the focus of this analysis had to be qualitative in nature. Additional data will be collected and more in-depth analyses will be conducted in the spring of 2008. Using grounded theory and content analysis approaches, additional and more detailed cycles of coding need to be conducted. The concepts identified in the interview transcripts need to be qualified further individually and in their relationship to each other to arrive at a well developed theoretical basis for understanding the nature and interplay of elements of a meaningful work environment of project environments with constructs of project management implementation, organizational context, and with value constructs.

However, in both cases, similar themes and ideas have emerged that will be fed into the further studies early next year, partially serving as hypotheses within the next phase of this research project. These preliminary yet substantial results have been grouped around the concepts of value of project management and meaningful work.

Project Management Implementation

Both case study organizations have acted upon identified shortcomings within their project environments and achieved substantial improvements. Furthermore, both organizations have practiced a people-oriented and values-oriented approach. Finally, some fundamental characteristics around project management implementation have emerged that are shared by both organizations:

  1. Experienced project managers cater project management services to their IT department and beyond.
  2. Project management contributes to the IT culture and to the larger culture of the overall organization.
  3. Meeting project objectives comes first as driving project priority.
  4. Some initial project management processes and structures have been introduced in an earlier phase; however, the PMO implementation resulted in a huge leap forward within the organization by providing structure, by coordinating projects and project control, and by initiating integrated program and/or portfolio management.
  5. Integration of various elements and dimensions (e.g., strategic and operational processes, internal horizontal and vertical structures, stakeholders in general and clients in particular) appears to have been a major result of the PMO implementation and the resulting creation, coordination, and support of processes.
  6. This integration appears to have had significant positive impact on the business outcomes in both cases.

However, further statistical analyses have to be conducted across all case studies to further qualify, quantify, and verify these interesting correlations and their interplay.

Value of Project Management

The results in regards to the five levels of project management value introduced earlier can be summarized for both cases as follows:

  1. People in project environments are satisfied (case study 2) or very satisfied (case study 1) with the project management implementation within their organization. Project management processes have been identified as the most significant element of project management implementation.
  2. A significantly increased level of process alignment was reported, primarily as a result of the implementation of the PMO.
  3. Client satisfaction, greater project transparency, better project performance, and improved project control have been identified as most important process outcomes; this could be substantiated by documentary evidence.
  4. Major business outcomes were the growing and repeat business based on increased customer satisfaction for case study 1, and multi-project control allowing to strategically and in an integrated way manage major initiatives with direct impact on the business strategy for case study 2.
  5. Given that both case study organizations are governmental by nature, identifying a return of investment has proven to be difficult at this point.

What Does It All Mean?

Our particular research questions and the chosen methodological approaches around values and meaning have resulted in the following preliminary findings:

  1. A variety of elements that allow for the discovery of meaning are reported and demonstrated to be put in place by the organizations and their employees within the context of project management implementation.
  2. Providing service to others and to the overall improvement of the organization, doing so with adequate competency and with the help of supporting tools and processes appear to be creative values of particular importance to employees.
  3. Putting people first and being able to effectively cooperate and communicate across internal and external boundaries based on a joint project management approach and on sufficiently shared values have proven to be important components of actualizing experiential values.
  4. The experience of being valued and of contributing to a greater cause—health (case study 1) or national effort (case study 2)—appear to be significant prerequisites for individuals and teams to make sense of challenges to the status quo, of dynamically evolving contexts, and of continuously and sometimes drastically changing work environments. As long as pride in one's work and the sense of accomplishment in contributing to a greater cause is valued and nourished by the organization and its leadership processes—including its project management processes—people in project environments appear to continue their commitment beyond duty and their engagement in joint sensemaking efforts, even in light of substantial challenges and changes.

The results of this particular research approach and perspective may contribute to a better understanding of commitment and motivation of people working in project environments and of the importance of values and meaning as key concepts of project leadership. In addition to the existing literature around the significance of vision and values in project environments, these case studies—and translating their approach to the overall research study—may contribute to more precisely placing these factors within the various value levels and to better understanding their interplay with the constructs studied (project management implementation, organizational context, value constructs). Finally, this may contribute to helping leaders and managers understand how and when to integrate personal and organizational values into their leadership approach as well as organizational strategy development and implementation—it may even contribute to operationalizing “the essence of good project leadership” (Norrie & Walker, 2004).

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Value of Project Management. (2006). [Data Collection Instruments. Version 2.0 (November 15, 2006)]. Unpublished raw data collection guidelines.

Appendix A: Overview of Data Collection instruments and categories

Interviews:

• Interviewee background

• History of project management implementation

• Culture project management attitudes

• Project priorities

• Strategic overview

• Satisfaction

• Perceived alignment

• Perceived effectiveness/impact

• Competency

• Project management practices

• Stakeholder's role

• Project management people

• Training

Surveys:

• Demographics

• Education

• Experience

• Organizational capabilities

• Organizational culture

• Team/project culture

• Human resources

• Project management attitudes

• Project management practices

• Stakeholder's role

Organization Data Collection:

• Organization

• Employees

• Project Manager

• Project management

• Organizational Infrastructure

• Project management training

• Project management tools

• Guidelines and procedures

• Databases

• Project management processes

Project Data Collection:

• Project identification

• Project attributes

• Project results

Researcher Data Collection:

• By organization

• By processes

• By person (interviewees)

 

1 These case studies could not have been conducted without the substantial support of the two organizations contributing to this study. We are very grateful to the organization and their employees who offered their time, effort and wisdom. Furthermore, we gratefully acknowledge the funding of this research through PMI.

2 See Appendix A. For the full set of instruments and guidelines, see Value of Project Management, 2006.

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI or any listed author.

© 2008 Project Management Institute

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