Project Management

Organizational Structures that Support Faster Innovation and Evolution

Mike Griffiths is an experienced project manager, author and consultant who works for PMI as a subject matter expert. Before joining PMI, Mike consulted and managed innovation and technology projects throughout Europe, North and South America for 30+ years. He was co-lead for the PMBOK Guide—Seventh Edition, lead for the Agile Practice Guide, and contributor to the PMI-ACP and PMP exam content outlines. Outside of PMI, Mike maintains the websites www.LeadingAnswers.com about leading teams and www.PMillustrated.com, which teaches project management for visual learners.

Organizational agility is the ability for an enterprise to change direction, realign and succeed in volatile, uncertain business environments. It requires sensing emerging trends and actively listening to customer requests, then acting on this information and making the changes required to position the organization for where it needs to be in the future.

Small organizations can change direction quickly because they have fewer people or processes to change. Most medium- to large-scale organizations have considerable mindset inertia in the form of strategies, multi-year plans, in-flight programs and projects, etc. When fundamental change is required, it can be difficult to turn these large elements that have gathered their own momentum through the day-to-day behaviors of staff.

Momentum is mass in motion. Think of a thousand people all moving toward a common goal—and their organizational structures and processes to get there. Now imagine the goal has shifted; we want to get to somewhere else. We need to shift all those minds—and likely much of the org structure and processes, a bigger ask requiring more energy.

The Efficiency vs. Adaptability Trade-off
There is a growing trend. As rates of change increase, organizations are trading off efficiency for adaptability. Large-scale processes, specialized resources and large batch sizes are optimized for maximum …


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"Only those who have been in the frying pan are really qualified to talk about the heat."

- Winston Churchill

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