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Does the organization play together? (Part 2 of 5 – Setting Expectations)

BY:  Collin Quiring

In part one, (click here) we explained how OPM (Organizational Project Management) and OPM3 (Organizational Project Management Maturity from Project Management Institute) helps the entire organization and increases an organization’s ability to understand and better use their abilities to achieve success in their Portfolio, Program and Project management.   We also had the example of an organization constructing a new building and how we EXPECT them to get input from all departments affected.

That left us with a couple questions:

  1. Why is it so often that one department of an organization thinks that what they are doing doesn’t affect other departments?
  2.  Why don’t we EXPECT each department to NOT act alone?

There are a large number of potential answers to this and some of them can be very subtle in regards to a specific organization’s internal culture or the individual personalities of the people involved.  However, we seem to have run into a few reasons that seem to occur often as to why some departments in an organization act alone.

One reason seems to be a lack of awareness that what one department does affects another.  This might be due to an organization’s size or the silo affect or just a feeling that what one department does will not affect others.   Another reason that comes up is that the department simply doesn’t care about other departments.  They might give lip service to working together, but, in reality, they feel that they can do what they want when they want and if it affects others that is the other department’s problem, not theirs.

Another reason is that high-level management doesn’t hold itself accountable to each other, or doesn’t have a board or other structure to “keep everybody on the same page”.  Depending on an organization’s size and structure the ability to “do things on our own” can become quite easy and then it feeds itself and the concept of an organizational strategy becomes less and less a reality.  Yes, the entire company might be producing a service through cooperation with many departments, but not as well as they could.

Unfortunately, a common reason is also that the departments just don’t know the expectations of them – they haven’t ever had an explanation about how they fit into the bigger picture and/or what the organization’s strategies really are.  Yes, they may know that they create a widget and that they are responsible for Marketing of the widget.  But, they may not understand that an organizational objective is to increase customer satisfaction by having more color options.  If they don’t know that, they may make decisions that don’t help the overall organization achieve that goal.

Finally, there is often the feeling that people have in a department of an organization that they are the only ones that understand what they do and how they do it and that they are the experts and so they need to do whatever it is that is right for them in that moment.  While it is true that they are the experts in their department (and may have the education or years of experience or certifications to prove it) that is the precise reason they shouldn’t act that way – they should understand that they need to coordinate with the experts from other departments.  For example, Human Resources may be the experts in how payroll works, but if they just randomly change the payroll from Friday to Tuesday one week and then from Tuesday to Thursday a few weeks later and they change the way people report their time as well they will be dramatically affecting the organization (and individual’s personal budgets).

To think about for part three:

  1. How do the experts potentially cause more issues for an organization?


One Response to “ Does the organization play together? (Part 2 of 5 – Setting Expectations) ”

  1. […] part two (click here) we ended with an example of how departments of an organization can become myopic and think that […]


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