Organizational Capabilities


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Program process strategy is not about taking boilerplate plan, process, and structure templates and implementing them. It is about understanding the organizational context and making conscious decisions about what processes (detail, depth, breadth) are required in that context on the basis of the program goals.

Our Guide to Executing the Keys of Program Process Strategy:

Part 1 of 6: Creating Program Culture
Part 2 of 6: How Mentoring Relationships Will Be Established
Part 3 of 6: How Project Managers Are Assigned
Part 4 of 6: How Project Management Administrative Functions Are Assigned
Part 5 of 6: How to Grow Organizational Capabilities by Increasing the Capabilities of Project Managers
Part 6 or 6: How to Balance Process and People

Part 5 of 6: How to Grow Organizational Capabilities by Increasing the Capabilities of Project Managers

In addition to meeting program goals, the program manager is challenged to grow the organization’s capabilities by increasing the capabilities of program personnel, especially the project managers. This means planning for and making time for training and development opportunities. Setting developmental goals for personnel is also important. To that end, the program manager has to establish a culture that allows people to make mistakes and learn from them. Structures and processes for mentoring need to be established, and processes that provide feedback on performance and behavior should be put in place.

This feedback should come from the customers, peers, and program managers. Rotational assignments are also very important in broadening the perspective and experience base of program managers, but not all rotational assignments are created equal.

The real question for you as a leader is: Are you comfortable in not being the best and/or not striving to be the best when it comes to the expectations and development of your project managers? It is easy for leaders to say they want to be the best, but how committed are they and the organization to training, coaching, and mentoring project managers? How much money was spent on this training, coaching, and mentoring last year? How many hours were invested in training, coaching, and mentoring project managers? Being highly capable doesn’t magically happen; it is the result of real commitment. I marvel at the focus of many organizations on speed to market when they have zero focus on speed to highly capable project managers. As a program manager, if the PMO is not fully committed (time and money), you should find ways to bolster the commitment to highly capable. You may also have to commit part of your program budget to make this happen. You may have to partner with other program managers and stakeholders to make this happen. Some organizations try to hire highly capable project managers rather than develop them. This is a valid strategy as long as consideration is given to the impact and effect on the existing workforce as this takes place.

The hidden danger in not striving to make all project managers highly capable is the unwritten but powerful message that average is acceptable. It is always hard work to be the best, and a lot of people may be fine with putting forth the effort needed to be just average. Excellence attracts excellence and average attracts average, which drags down excellence. Excellence doesn’t come free, and average has its own price. Although the cost of being average is not immediately out of pocket or always highly visible, it is always higher. Remember, this is a choice you and other leaders consciously make through your investment in development about whether you want to be the best or average. Actions, not words, good intentions, or motivational posters demonstrate this choice.

Another opportunity for developing organizational capability is to make project managers owners of program processes. Have these processes assessed and scrubbed and then rotate the ownership of the process. This results in project managers taking a program perspective.

Once your team has decided on their plan and process, PPM software can help you execute that process. WorkOtter helps you successfully execute your program process strategy for project success. Get a demo of WorkOtter and see how we can make your program management effective.

“The Handbook of Program Management: How to Facilitate Project Success with Optimal Program Management, Second Edition” by James T. Brown is a copyrighted work of McGraw-Hill and McGraw-Hill reserves all rights in and to the Content. ©2014 by McGraw-Hill Education. Purchase the book on Amazon.