This paper was first published in the site. Its revision was presented for publication December 9 2018.
Published here February 2019

Introduction | 1. Building Trust Within Your Team 
2. Engaging Your Stakeholders to Get Them What They Really Need
3. Making Project Risk Management an Organic Exercise
4. Understanding the Environment | 5. Applying LEAN Principles | Understanding the Basics

4. Understanding the Environment

Figure 4
Figure 4

A Top PM should not begin a project like a bull in a China shop. Instead of forcing a methodology or project approach, the project manager should perform an in-depth analysis of the environment, formal structure, informal structure, culture, habits, tools, capabilities, and organizational assets at hand. Only then can he or she start the journey of change.

While any PM understands that the projects they're undertaking will have an impact on the organization, Top PMs recognize that the organization similarly has an impact on their projects.

Instead of a flawed, one-size-all mentality, Top PMs tailor their approach by understanding their environment. In doing so, they're better able to recognize the most pressing business needs, how organizations will adapt or accept a solution, adoption, and which changes will be made to the solution to achieve the right fit in delivering objectives.

While tailoring an effective project management approach, Top PMs have to possess an in-depth understanding of different methodologies, not only of different PM approaches but of business analysis methodologies, change management frameworks, enterprise architecture frameworks, and other useful analysis methods. This gives a PM the ability to find the best-suited solution for the company at hand to deliver the project they are undertaking.

For example, if you are starting a project in an extremely rigid hierarchical organization, where there is a lot of different approval levels, the best approach may be a blended or hybrid project management approach. You may carry out a structured requirements elicitation phase, with the requirement approvals done in advance and then dividing the project into stages with formal stage gates. In parallel, the PM could set up Agile-like iterative execution within the development teams to capture the best practices of the iterative development, despite running a more traditional project.

In summary, Top PMs will respect company culture, while respectfully proposing new approaches and coaching organizations in improving their project management practices. They recognize that many organizations are at different points of maturity and readiness for change, and see it as an opportunity, rather than a threat, to positively impact each company's ability to implement project management best practices.

Key takeaway: "Project Managers should not blindly push their own agenda, but should adapt to the organizations' ways of working, and deliver the change slowly if needed."

3. Making Project Risk Management an Organic Exercise  3. Making Project Risk Management an Organic Exercise

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