This one is too bad to be true.

Not only was this organization cross functionally dysfunctional, it was also dysfunctional within functions. And to make matters worse, much of the dysfunction was caused by the function that is supposed to prevent cross functional dysfunction from functioning.

Seriously.

Sometimes it’s appropriate to poke fun at your own profession, and this one is too good to pass up.

I recently became aware of an organization that has a project management office, or PMO. This PMO includes project managers as well as change managers. They work together to help drive projects to success. The project manager is normally responsible for the business process work that’s required to affect the change, while the change manager is responsible for the people work. The latter includes alignment activities, communication, training, readiness, and support. 

I had the opportunity to speak with one of the project managers from this organization. He shared with me his frustration because his fellow change managers were scheduling meetings with executives on their own. They were discussing key project activities exclusive of his participation. 

Read that again.

The change manager was meeting with the executive sponsor and making decisions about the project that would impact scope and timeline, and they were having these discussions without the project manager present.

The very person whose job it is to ensure that the organization is all marching forward in alignment is creating more misalignment on his own accord.

The project manager was upset and frustrated. No kidding.

The story becomes even more interesting.

The person responsible for the change manager was overheard coaching her team that it was vitally important to build relationships. The discontinuity here is shocking.

In all my years of working with executives to align their organization to drive the execution of strategic projects, I’ve never experienced cross functional dysfunction to this degree.

I have a message for all three parties who might be faced with the situation.

For project managers, be sure that you make it clear with people on your project team that any conversations with executives that might change the scope of the project must include you. Must.

For change managers, if you’re doing this, stop. If you need help, seek out a senior professional change consultant to help you work through challenges you might have. I am available.

For executives, if you find yourself in this situation, stop the meeting. It’s really that simple.

To borrow from that famous bear, “Only you can prevent cross-functional dysfunction.”

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please go out to LinkedIn to add your comments.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,

Steve

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