The Project Notebook

Cultural Change Required

Introducing Project Management for projects and companies may require some cultural change to gain acceptance. This is especially important for high tech projects, achievement of productivity and cost control, and environmental improvements. But resistance to change is a part of our human nature — we are insecure and threatened, and even at times resentful of change. Change can be a threat to the in fluence of governments, unions, and other powerful groups.

To plan this change requires projects. Projects which encourage early adopters, those who would be change agents, and other users and beneficiaries of the project result to slowly adapt to the new outcomes and future. Within the corporate environment, there is a pretty solid list of things we can do to overcome resistance to change: training, team building, surveys, performance reviews, and job enrichment, just to name a few. Out in the world beyond corporate walls requires even more effort and I’d like to take a few moments to highlight a few I happened upon recently.

1) Recent efforts by the PMI Education Foundation include creation of Project Management as a life skill training materials for K-12 education, including teacher guides, projects, lesson plans, and more. In the US, education is clearly in trouble as studies have shown the longer kids are in school, the worse they perform. I’m also familiar where eight or more unions are barriers to change — education seems to be about the adults, rather than the children. Teaching Project Management as a life skill will benefit future generations of Project Managers who will meet less resistance and be more skilled at managing projects and making the changes necessary. At the same time, it will expose the adults to the necessary new thinking required.

2) Two years ago, a devastating earthquake rocked Pakistan and rebuilding is still under way. This is a country where everyone admits “nothing works” and the infrastructure of the modern world is limited or non-existent in many areas. To help the people be more self-sufficient, the government of Pakistan rejected the “import” of skilled workers from other countries, perferring to bring in those who could teach natives the management and labor skills required for the rebuilding effort. While the rebuild will admitedly take longer, everyone now believes the benefits will be enormous.

3) Fashion designers in Sweden didn’t have the funding to compete with neighboring Denmark and the events and outlets were drying up. Sponsors were nowhere to be found. A major corporation stepped in and sponsored a number of events themselves for the last couple of years, with the hopes of attracting more media attention, more sponsors, and most of all, more buyers. The result? A Fashion Week in Stockholm that had 6 trade fairs, 44 catwalk shows, and most of all, attracted 30,000 visitors.

To learn more about Pakistan and Stockholm, please see PM Network, February 2008, Volume 22, No. 2. For more information about the PMI Education Foundation and its programs, please contact the Foundation at PMIEF@pmi.org or drop me a line at sdcapmp@aol.com. Additional information is also available at Project Management Life Skills.

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© 2010-2012 Ray W. Frohnhoefer, MBA, PMP, CCP