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I am currently delivering a master class on project-based organizations (PBOs) at the University of Technology Sydney, as part of a the school's PMI Global Accreditation Center accredited master's program.

Part of the class included a workshop discussion on key issues concerning the transformation of a traditional organization into a PBO.

Five issues impeding the transformation were:

1. Selling the PBO concept to senior management
2. Ensuring collaboration across all levels of the organization and empowering people in light of the traditional hierarchical structures of organizations
3. Dealing with the effects of the current economic downturn on implementation
4. Bridging the gap between corporate and business strategies
5. Measuring PBO maturity and determining when an acceptable level of transformation been reached

While we only had time to delve into issues one and two, I feel the conclusions are worth sharing.

-To sell the PBO concept to senior management, project managers should:
-Be convinced of the value of the PBO.
-Secure the support of a champion at the executive level.
-Educate people about the PBO.
-Find examples of successful PBOs.
-Understand top management concerns and speak their language.
-Stress benefits of flexibility and dynamism in turbulent environment.
-Be realistic in selling it--do not promise things that cannot be realized.
-Plant the seed and let it germinate--do not try to rush the process.
-Build on existing strengths and don't try to reinvent the wheel.
-Take into account existing organizational culture and structures.
-Pilot the system in business areas that are receptive to it.
-Implement PBO components one at a time but always keep the big picture in sight.
-Make sure you address perceived threats.

Use emotional intelligence.And in terms of collaboration and empowering people, our conclusions were:
-What works in theory may not necessarily work in practice.
-Hierarchical organizations are very efficient, PBOs enhance effectiveness.
-PBOs can add flexibility and opportunities of career development.
-PBOs focus on multiple stakeholders, whereas traditional organizations usually focus on shareholders, so motivation of staff can be increased in PBO.
-Often in traditional organizations, career advancement is based on conformity. In PBOs, advancement should be based more on capability and innovativeness
-The PBO encourages feedback and learning,
-Bureaucracy is rigid and kills initiative, while a PBO is evolving and encourages initiatives.

Posted by Michel Thiry on: April 01, 2009 03:25 PM | Permalink


Shankar Sankaran
Hi Michel, Thanks for sharing this with the PMI World| Yes I was quite pleased with the outcomes of the knowledge sharing in the class. As the students come from different parts of the World and industry it was interesting to see how the views were consistent across a diverse sample of experienced and 'to be' project managers. Regards Shankar Sankaran Course Director PM UTS, Sydney

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"Nearly every great advance in science arises from a crisis in the old theory, through an endeavor to find a way out of the difficulties created. We must examine old ideas, old theories, although they belong to the past, for this is the only way to understand the importance of the new ones and the extent of their validity."

- Albert Einstein