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Does the organization play together? (Part 3 of 5 – The Disciplines)

BY: Collin Quiring

In part two (click here) we ended with an example of how departments of an organization can become myopic and think that their level of expertise for how they do their specific functions is greater than the whole organization.  We talked about how dramatic it would be if the Human Resources department were to randomly change payroll dates.  Just reading that type of example is laughable, however, most organizations allow departments to change processes or systems to meet their specific needs with no organizational input.

If each department is going about their own way then efficiencies, cooperation, profitability and many other areas suffer for the organization as a whole.  Note – we are not advocating a centralized, oppressive system that doesn’t allow any autonomy or freedom.  If an organization works together, more freedom can be obtained when there is a centralized framework to work within for each department.

One of the reasons that was stated in part two for why organizations sometimes do NOT work together is the feeling that some people have within their own area that they are the experts and only they can possibly provide a solution for their needs.  While they are the experts they may need to see the larger picture and that is not always easy.

This goes along with how some disciplines within an organization seem to compete.  Each discipline has its own educational process, certifications and best practices.  It can become very easy for a group of people in one discipline to think that they are vastly different than other disciplines.  For example, there are accounting and related certifications, there are Information Technology methods (ITIL,etc), there are Human Resources methods and certifications and so on and so on.

Each of the major disciplines of an organization may have their own technology that is customized to their needs.  For example, in the Manufacturing discipline, one of the largest associations that helps with industry standards and best practices is the APICS organization.  They have a few common certification as well as listed here:


APICS – The Association for Operations Management (Supply chain Body of Knowledge)

               CPIM – Certified in Production and Inventory Management (APICS certification)

CSCP – Certified Supply Chain Professional (APICS certification)

CIRM – Certified Integrated Resource Management (APICS certification – retired)

In the Project Management discipline, one of the largest organizations for standard setting is the PMI.  Here are a few common certification that they provide:

PMI – Project Management Institute   (Project Management Body of Knowledge)

OPM3 – Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (PMI certification)

PMP  – Project Management Professional (PMI certification)

PMI-SP – PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI certification)

CAPM – Certified Associate in Project Management (PMI certification)

What can happen is that people become experts in their discipline and they become certified and experienced and then can become biased towards their specific discipline.  And, this is a good thing for an organization and for a department when that knowledge is used to make a department better internally AND better at working for the organization’s best interest.  Unfortunately, it often results in a department thinking that what other departments are doing, which could benefit many departments, doesn’t count because it wasn’t originated in “my” department.

While APICS and PMI are totally separate entities with different goals and different client bases there is a lot overlap between them.  Look at the main concepts that they deal with:

EPM – Enterprise Project Management OR Enterprise Portfolio Management

ERP  – Enterprise Resource Planning

MRP – Manufacturing Resource Planning OR Materials Requirements Planning

So, in this context there are two disciplines, each with their own body of knowledge.  Each with their own set of certifications.  Each with their own perspective of the world.  The methodology is different in some areas because the APICS view concentrates on manufacturing and “making stuff” and so there are all sorts of methods and best practices on how to do that within a manufacturing environment and the PMI view is about the “how to run projects” and that may or may not include a manufacturing element.

There is quite a bit of overlap in these two areas and doing one part well should allow for an organization to do the other ones better.  We should EXPECT that the various departments working in these areas work together.  Just as we should EXPECT that the Human Resources department is assisting all other departments in finding the right people to fill job openings.

Also, we should EXPECT each department to know about the organization’s objectives and strategies and to understand how their piece affects the whole.  Upper Management should have a Portfolio that is well communicated and departmental management should be able to communicate priorities to their entire department.

To continue our example from part one:  If the Building and Maintenance department does all of their due diligence and starts to construct the perfect building for the organization, BUT, they never find out (for whatever reason) that the building has to be completed by a certain date because one of the old three buildings will have its occupants evicted by that date.  They may be on schedule and building a great place but if they don’t know about the deadline then they can’t meet it!  That is one example of a lack of communication about the organizational objectives.

Now, let’s modify that example a bit.  Let’s say that the Building and Maintenance has done everything right and is constructing a great building and is aware of the deadline and will meet it on time.  However, one of the departments (that knows of the new building) goes out and signs a new 10 year lease on their existing property.  They may have done it for any of a number of reasons but they put the entire organization into a bind.

Again, this example is laughable, but yet we see it every day.  A department will set up a process or system for themselves that is contradictory to another department’s needs.  Or, one department will be implementing something and another department doesn’t like the way they do it or who they have doing it and they implement something else or even the exact same thing but in their own way.


To think about for part four:

How does technology promote or subdue myopic thinking?


One Response to “ Does the organization play together? (Part 3 of 5 – The Disciplines) ”

  1. […] part three (click here) we talked about how disciplines that certain departments may concentrate upon can actually deter […]


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