BABOK 8.4.4.3 Exploration - Outlier Condition To PMO Failure?

On a given day, I'm might read three or four project related resources. These can include Body Of Knowledge publications, books, subscriptions (like the PMI Network magazines, which I adore) or doing a deep dive on someone's blog I just discovered. On occasion, I might be reading something from two different resources that seem to blend their content in my mind. 

One of my resource readings today was on how a PMO may struggle to get its own team members to adhere to its own policies. For example, a project manager declares they will not use the official schedule building tool or a business analyst that takes every opportunity to forego creating a business case document. It really doesn't matter what PMO leadership tries to implement as a solution, they just cannot get individuals to conform to the process. Because of this, the process cannot get any momentum. Then the process gets a bad reputation (due to lack of compliance) and then is killed because it was not effective. 

Not sure where I took this picture, some pub or brew house is my best guess.

In a worst case scenario, the entire PMO looses steam, support from executive leadership diminishes and the PMO eventually dies a slow death. If you do a Google search for "Why PMOs Fail", you will see stats that a significant number of PMOs are closed within three years of their startup. Later on that same day, I took a CBAP practice exam and missed a question related to the Access Enterprise Limitations task (8.4 in the BABOK Third Edition). The stated purpose of this task is as follows: 

"The purpose of Assess Enterprise Limitations is to determine how factors external to the solution are restricting value realization."

So this was a pure coincidence that I came across two separate narratives regarding a solutions inability to return expected value due to an enterprise limitation. This is a loose connection, I admit. However, it gets a bit more focused when we drill down into the Elements section of this task and specifically a section labeled "Organization Structure Changes" (8.4.4.3). 

When I saw the title of “Organization Structure Changes”, I assumed this was about how an organizational change can impact the ability of a solution to produce its perceived benefits. However, here are two sentences from that section that tell a different story. The sentences are not even next to each other but my mind stitched them together automatically. 

"The use of a solution and the ability to adopt a change can be enabled or blocked by formal and informal relationships among stakeholders. On occasion, informal relationships within an organization, whether alliances, friendships, or matrix-reporting, impact the ability of a solution to deliver potential value."

Translating this in to a fictional scenario, say that PMO leadership builds and presents a process flow for projects at a 9 AM meeting to the PMO team. Members of that team can go to lunch at noon and via their friendship/alliance, they discuss any number of personal topics and then one of them mentions the new flow presented at the morning meeting. 

As they discuss the pros and cons of the flow, one of them says they "cannot" use this flow for some reason. Although they said “cannot”, it comes across as “will not.” If it is a valid constraint, this should be submitted to PMO leadership for possible modifications. However, this is just a group of colleagues having a discussion over chips & salsa. The thing is, now that one of them has “said” they will not conform to the process (even if they didn't mean that), the seed is now planted. Each of them are thinking that if one of the members of the group is not going to do it, why should they? 

By 1:30 PM that same day, the process is already doomed and the PMO leadership is completely unaware of it. Just like the BABOK warned, the informal relationships within an organization, whether alliances, friendships, or matrix-reporting, impacted the ability of a recently baked solution to deliver the potential value expected.

Somehow, there needs to be way to change the chips & salsa conversation. If you can pivot that comment "I cannot do this process" to "I cannot wait to use this process", the results can be amazing!

© 2017 Dwayne Wright