The knowledge and learning organization is the new competitive paradigm that impacts all of us. Companies are asking how they can improve their competitive advantage specifically revolving around organizational learning and knowledge management. The thinking goes like this:
Brand U’s hold a wealth of knowledge, skills, abilities, and experience about their companies, products, core processes, and customers. Securing and managing this knowledge is now recognized as essential for organizational profitability.
The formation of a Brand U team involves both process and product. The process of team building includes chartering the team, selecting team members, building consensus, negotiating team rules, resolving conflicts, encouraging involvement, ensuring fairness, monitoring progress, providing direction, and reinforcing progress. The product of a team is its deliverables, its results. The team may have to solve an intractable problem, implement systems, or gain ISO 9000 registration. The list goes on. Bottom line: the team has a measurable, deliverable objective.
Only a few people may report directly to the project manager who may have no formal position power or authority. This person leads through influence and example. This person knows how to negotiate, resolve conflicts, create coalitions, understand/satisfy individual needs, and be the consummate political player.
The history of technology is full of neat ideas that just didn’t cut it. Sometimes, the customer had unrealistic expectations. Sometimes, the development team was clueless of what the customer wanted. Sometimes, they didn’t connect. These techno-turkeys include all types of products and inventions
Commodity consulting goes for about $100/hour. Move up the how, what, why, and who consulting curve to offer more customer value.
- How consultants are skilled technicians.
- What consultants are skilled managers.
- Why consultants are skilled communicators.
- Who consultants are skilled leaders and politicians.
- Who consultants offer clients peace of mind in today’s time challenged and anxiety driven world.
Project management has always been associated with work tools and techniques such as scheduling and network planning. However, Brand U project leadership is more of a philosophy and structure of doing business that is being adopted by self managed teams, rapid product development groups, and hi-tech start-ups. More has to be done faster, better, more effectively, and cheaper – all the while satisfying many stakeholders.
Success today requires new project leadership skills, aptitudes, and attitudes. Several years ago, a successful project manager needed good technical skills such as planning, scheduling, financial controls, and monitoring skills. Today’s successful Brand U team leaders are stakeholder focused, quality driven, risk sensitive and politically adept. The project mission has also evolved from getting the project done on time and on budget to managing customers, time, quality, communications, risk, technology, and performance
One person recently quipped that project leaders are CEOs in training. Think about it! Within the scope of the project, the leader is responsible for facilitating all project activities that a CEO would have in a company.
What’s the right type of structure or organization for a Brand U or New Economy company? No one knows what’s best. There’s a lot of speculation. Peter Drucker, the eminent management expert, says “every organization … will have to be designed for a specific task, time, and place.[i] In other words, Brand U work and organizations will be projectized along lines that reflect their purpose and function of what needs to be done.
See if the following makes sense? Life and work are more chaotic! Customers want more things faster and better. This ‘work entropy’ results in the unraveling of our cherished principles, practices, understandings, energy, and commitment. Our usual response is to deal with a situation when it reaches a crisis stage and then we panic and jump. We transform processes, downsize people indiscriminately, or change organizational cultures. Fire fighting or crisis management doesn’t work over the long term.
[i] Drucker, Peter, “The Future That Has Already Happened,” Harvard Business Review, September-October, 1997, p. 22.
Projectized work then accelerated as customer, time, quality, communications, risk, technology, and performance requirements increased. Each decade emphasized different types of Brand U projects. In the 1950s, mega civil engineering projects were the craze. In the 1960s, aerospace projects consumed our interest. In the 1970s, it was telecommunication projects. In the 1980s, it was computer hardware projects. In the 1990s, death march software projects abounded.
And more recently, movie producers, city planners, product developers, lawyers, and secretaries conceive, plan, organize, and monitor their activities using project management principles and tools. Brand organizations are able to develop the next ‘new thing’ and Brand U’s position themselves ahead of the ‘new thing.’
A family trip is simple example of a life project. The final destination is known as well as intermediate stops. Accommodations are reserved. Resources are requisitioned. Different people have specific accountabilities such as driving, navigating, setting up the tent, cooking, and cleaning dishes.
- Mission impossible project has a high chance of success and a high degree of satisfaction.
- Ugly project has a high chance of success but a low degree of satisfaction.
- Kamikaze project where everybody knows the project will fail but team members feel good about it.
- Suicide project, where everyone knows it’ll fail and they feel miserable on top of it. [i]
[i] Melymuka, Kathleen, “Hell According to Yourdon,” Computerworld, March 31, 1997, pp. 77-80.