Dealing With Disruption

Michael R. Wood is a Business Process Improvement & IT Strategist Independent Consultant. He is creator of the business process-improvement methodology called HELIX and founder of The Natural Intelligence Group, a strategy, process improvement and technology consulting company. He is also a CPA, has served as an Adjunct Professor in Pepperdine's Management MBA program, an Associate Professor at California Lutheran University, and on the boards of numerous professional organizations. Mr. Wood is a sought after presenter of HELIX workshops and seminars in both the U.S. and Europe.

Virtually all projects have their unpleasant moments; times where things feel chaotic, when the process seems to be going off the rails; in short, an air of disruption fills the landscape. There are many reasons projects can suffer from disruption creep. The challenge facing project managers is being able to sense disruption’s presence, understand its cause and then take steps to disrupt the disruption. What are some of the causes of project disruption, and what can project managers do to right the project-disrupted ship? Here is some guidance that might help…

1. Politics: Politics can creep into a project at any time. Often, political disruption happens when the informal communication network (the grapevine) has stakeholders or even project team members sowing the seeds of fear, uncertainty and doubt about the project’s health or the competency of its leadership.

Sometimes, these seeds are sowed to upper management, circumventing the chain of command; or as gossip among fellow project participants related to the value of the project, the lack of inclusion or even disparaging remarks about the project’s or senior management’s leadership or agenda. Basically, disruptive politics can trigger knee-jerk reactions from senior management, lack of buy-in and support, reduction in morale and more.

Combating disruptive politics can be achieved, …

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