Projects can often become a battleground where the project manager and the team are at odds against the sponsor or other stakeholders. These conflicts can occur when the project environment is not favorable to a win-win solution.
When initiating a project, be clear about the WIIFM (What’s in it for Me) for everyone involved. This includes the sponsor, stakeholders and project team. It is important to keep all parties in the loop when planning your project. This helps you create a win-win strategy that benefits everyone. Functional managers who are responsible for pulling resources should understand the benefits to their department and the entire organization. This is crucial and should be communicated to all parties early and often.
Execution is a process where everyone wins. This will prevent individual problems from becoming project-killing conflicts. It creates the “one big team”. Because they know their team is there to support them, people feel more open to taking calculated risks and being creative. They should not be afraid of being reprimanded by other parties and should not try to cover it up. The project manager and sponsor should create a win-win environment that encourages everyone to think about conflicts and issues in terms of the best way to resolve them for everyone.
Deming’s #2 is even more relevant when there are multiple project managers working on a single complex task. It is easy to point fingers at other groups, withholding data, and other counterproductive actions in this situation. A friend who works for another company shared their situation with me. Software development that is part of a project gets sent to a separate group. The software development group doesn’t care about her project. They just get sub-projects that have been prioritized based upon pre-determined criteria. Communication is poor and she doesn’t know when she will receive her deliverables. I saw a large question mark on her project timeline. This is not a win/win situation and you can see the finger-pointing that will result.
A project manager should not be rigid about the original requirements or create artificial barriers to positive changes during execution. Any request for additional value should be granted as long as the formal change management process is in place and properly utilized. The organization should not be forced to spend more money or take longer to increase its scope. However, it should still be a win-win situation. Sponsors need to realize that increasing scope can lead to one or more of the following: increased cost, delayed project completion, or decreased quality. A win-win philosophy creates a team atmosphere that helps everyone to understand these issues.
Everyone should celebrate the completion of the project together. What is the?us against them scenario? A project team is separated from the rest of the stakeholders and celebrates separately.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure to work for a project manager who has a win-win approach, you know why.