How to Survive Your Organizational Structure

Understanding organizational styles is more than an academic exercise because choosing the right structure could provide a competitive advantage for a firm. But how does the organizational structure affect you as a project manager? Consider the following:

  1. Authority. Clearly, the difference between the organizational styles is that some favor projects while others favor ongoing operations. In the function-driven organization, the project manager has almost no authority and in the project-oriented firm, the project manager has total authority. Less authority requires more effort to get decisions made and implemented.
  2. Communication. Communication is a primary project success factor no matter what the organizational structure. Most organizational structures facilitate vertical (top-down and bottom-up) communication patterns, but your communication requirements may run counter to the prevailing patterns. Crossing organizational boundaries always takes more effort, but you must do whatever is necessary to keep all the stakeholders informed and coordinated.
  3. Priority. Multiple projects often compete for limited quantities of people, equipment, and funding, especially in firms with the traditional, function-driven management style. Project managers in a function-driven structure often have their teams and resources raided to handle a problem with ongoing operations or to work on a new project.
  4. Focus. If a firm is project-oriented, you can be certain that projects are the center of its attention and the
    reason for its existence. Everyone has a unifying purpose that drives all decisions and helps to increase productivity. This compares favorably with matrix and function-driven organizations, where project team members are often working on projects less than half their time. In these companies, the diffused focus and increased span of responsibilities tend to lower emotional commitment and productivity.
  5. Chain of command. If the chain of command for a project runs counter to the organizational structure, it takes more effort to bring a problem to the attention of the proper manager. As the project breaks through functional boundaries, more and more functional managers are required to approve decisions. And, if certain functional groups have competing interests, clashes over authority can bring progress to a standstill.

Project-oriented firms make it easy to run projects because their entire structure is set up for that purpose. In most organizations, however, project managers may have difficulties in dealing with the authority structure. In these cases, they will have to rely more on the authority of their own expertise—and on the project management tools.

- Advertisement -

Related Posts

Trait Theory – Leadership Theories Series

Use trait theory to identify the key traits that you need to exhibit consistently if you wish to be considered a leader. The origins of...

How to lead people, 12 leadership theories you should know and use

So why take advantage of leadership theories? The word lead means 'to guide on a way by going in advance' (Longman New Universal Dictionary)....

Do you have a Project Sponsor? No? Too bad…

The project sponsor role has grown in importance over the last years and I aim to provide some context attesting to that fact. But...

The Smarts Behind A Decision Making Process

Starting with the work done by March and Simon (more on them here) researchers have developed a step-by-step model of the decision making process...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.