In a recent blog I introduced evidence provided by two well-known organizations that described why projects fail. In summary, the evidence shows that executives take several actions to improve project management, metrics, scheduling and more, but that these adjustments are not effective. Gallup suggests that the real difference happens when executives focus more effort on stakeholder management – or, as I like to call it – Change Management.

Change Management has two primary focuses, behavioral and structure. Today we’ll look at change programs that implement appropriate structures that help facilitate success. We’ll examine organizational, team and personal structures.

Organizational Structure: Large-scale change typically requires a form of matrix structure in the organization to drive the change project while maintaining business operations. This often creates ambiguity about who is ultimately accountable, and highlights when interactions and handoffs are not clear between teams. Leaders must define a solid organizational structure and define functions with the right hand offs between them. Even with no project underway, an organization won’t operate effectively if these basics are not covered.

Team Structure: When teams aren’t structured properly, members are confused about the overall purpose of the team, the responsibilities of their peers, and why and how meetings are held. Effective team structure includes strong leadership with sufficient functional experience, having the right people in the right roles, and driving the right meeting agenda to ensure that relevant topics are discussed.

Personal Structure: We all know that executive who shows up late and disrupts every meeting, and cannot be counted upon to follow through with their commitments. At a personal level, structure means individuals have the self-discipline to manage daily routines, their personal goals are aligned with the team and organizational goals, and they take time regularly to reflect to ensure on-going alignment and a willingness to adjust as required.

Here’s a quick check-list for you to assess your project’s structure:

  1. Organization:
    1. Each function’s role and how it supports the overall organization is clear.
    2. There are clear hand-offs between functions.
  2. Team:
    1. The team is structured properly to achieve its goals (adequate resources in the right areas).
    2. Team meetings are focused on topics relevant to its goals.
  3. Personal:
    1. Team member’s goals are aligned with the goals of the project.
    2. Team members can effectively deal with ambiguity while maintaining focus on execution.

In another blog we’ll examine behavioral characteristics required for successful change. Then in upcoming blogs, we’ll drill down even deeper in each of these components to share examples – both good and not so good – of projects where structural and behavioral characteristics were present (or not present). Stay tuned!


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