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Behavioral Aspect of Project Management

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How does organizational culture influence the selection, sponsorship, prioritization, and ultimate success of projects?

The culture of an organization derives from the basic principles by which that organization does business. (Schein, 1990) When discussing the influence an organization’s culture has on project selection, sponsorship, priority, and success, management and decision-makers must understand how it dictates its business practices.

Organizational culture is made up of the attitudes, values, beliefs and behaviors of its employees, reflecting the values and principles of the organization. Ideally, management prefers project alignment with organizational culture, inline with strategic planning and implemented to support an organization’s corporate strategy and corporate objectives. This alignment ensures projects receive the required attention and support of senior management and the company resources for success. Culture is also one of the defining aspects of an organization that sets it apart from other organizations even in the same industry.

Understanding and assessing your organization's culture can mean the difference between success and failure of a company’s project planning. The direction of any proposed plan must take into consideration an organization current dynamic. For example, if an organization is strongly influenced by leadership, sponsorship will be a key factor in whether employees follow the proper practices. The employees will expect the leaders to endorse the practices through public and private statements of support. Leaders must communicate the strategy throughout the organization, if not the employees will sense that compliance is not critical and will abandon the needed practices. If a proposed project requires increasing productivity, keeping earnings consistent and investing for long term, then management must realize the increase demands on performance and accountability, which directly affects the employees, management and corporate culture. Maximizing effectiveness cannot be achieved without acknowledging those who perform the bulk of the work, but the added cultural changes will support the new plan. Decisions affecting organizational culture such downsizing, business investments and/or acquisition are communicated to the people to assist in understanding why it needs to be done. In a value-based management system, this allows the assessment of the environment, and of future behaviors. It constitutes the basis for a rise of the quality of the information shared with colleagues, friends, associates, customers and vendors. Cultural change is almost never easy, but in today’s era of globalization and rapid technological advancement the first step is getting people to embrace the change. In addition, when organizational priorities are not clear, they may conflict with individual’s sense of priority and move against project goals. Strong culture influence reinforces priorities throughout the organization and establishes practices, which support organizational goal.

In what ways could organizational culture create conditions that could lead to the scenario described above?

One of the major reasons for this struggling project plans are that projects contradict establishes designs and culture associated with an organizations original structure. This is why it is imperative for management and decision-makers to fully understand the influential power of organizational culture, and whether it is capable of achieving the proposed project is attempting. If cultural management is not a standard part of business practice, business process re-engineering, continuous improvement, streamlining, revision of business practices an organization and its planned projects are doomed to fail, because they will always be

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