PM Obstacles: Turf Protection

Vicki Wrona, PMP

Organizational silos and poor communication are often the result of “turf wars” in which groups or teams value their interests over cross-functional cooperation for the good of the entire enterprise. Here are some ideas to help project managers operate in this environment and overcome its harmful effects.

In this “PM Obstacles” series, we are exploring five common barriers that project leaders and team members face, and how sound project management practices can be used to overcome them. In the first article of the series, we examined the culture of firefighting. The second barrier we will consider here is turf protection.

Within organizations, individuals may associate most strongly with their work group or functional unit. Leaders often set the tone for their business units, and they may do so with good intentions and to unify their group. While this feeling of esprit de corps can be motivational and drive performance results, when taken too far it can lead to over-protection of team interests, or turf wars. Organizations or managers that exhibit turf protection foster teams that value department structures over cross-functional cooperation.

Let’s examine the characteristics of turf protection and how to overcome this cultural hurdle.

Obstacle #2: Turf Protection 

You may have seen the symptoms of turf protection in your own …

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