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Topics: Portfolio Management, Risk Management, Stakeholder Management
Should a PM take on a project when they know objectives are not fully aligned?
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For many of us, our project portfolio would be null and void if we refused to accept projects that had issues in objective alignment. Most of us recognize that these types of issues persist even in organizations with mature project, program or portfolio offices and have come to accept this unfortunate reality. So, what are your thoughts, what is your tolerance level on this subject?
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I make sure to clarify the business purpose of such projects, then I ask why the project doesn't align with our stated objectives. That's all I have the power to do. If the Sponsor and important Stakeholders still want to proceed with the project, I accept their decision.
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If my project has been approved to proceed , I would try to clarify the business purpose as Eric said, with my sponsor and clarify the scope and deliverable.

As long as the end goal is clear or I can understand the tangible or intangible benefit of doing the project , understanding why the company wants to run the project in-spite of misalignment with the business objective is not worth my time and effort really.
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George as you rightly stated we would be doing nothing if we refused anything that is not perfect. My personal tolerance level is flexible and the level of 'misalignment' would dictate it. I say 'misalignment' because it might be done intentionally. I often found that at a previous company they would conveniently ignore objective because if they did not then the sale might not make a lot of sense. In these cases, my tolerance is fairly low.
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Hi George, the tolerance level on this would really depend on the size, duration and cost of the project and its relative priority across the business. A small, low cost 3 month project would have a high tolerance, a high cost 2year multistream project the tolerance would be low and I would be pushing to align the objectives with the sponsor and key stakeholders as soon as possible. The main question to ask is why is there a misalignment of objectives? where in the organisation is the misalignment?, and can I negotiate an aligned objective?
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Did you mean projects with objectives not aligned to the corporate strategy?
Pet projects?

Or did you mean doing something more or less than the set objectives?
Gold plating/Scope creep?

I cannot imagine setting project objectives and doing something entirely different.
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Its hard to me to imagine a project that will not be defined from organizational objectives.or at least for organizational strategy. Perhaps some people are experiencing what you stated because they do not have all the information needed to understand the alignement. Your question is very interesting.
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You have no choice if you are assigned the project. I will provide my thoughts on the project to regroup and review it one more time. That is all a PM can do.
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Great Input!

Gordon, I like your statement that it depends on the Size, Duration, Cost and Relative Priority with the business.

It seems that most of us agree that we have some degree of tolerance to take on such a project, but that you would disclaim this and attempt to correct the problem – but that you would ultimately take it on if sponsorship still had a green light.

Sergio, I always enjoy your insights! As Anton stated, there are times when a project purposely has misaligned objectives to current or understood strategies. In Anton’s context, it is related to a sale, but I have seen it done in the political context, wherein competing interest (normally within large disparate enterprises) sanction a project that has covert ancillary goals, purposed to implement new approaches and/or strategies that are not currently in place. In this type of situation, your project might be a political pawn which could make for an interest “project ride.” I call these type of situations "clandestine realities"; they really shouldn’t happen from our purist view of project management, but it is, unfortunately, part of our project diet - at least for some.
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2 replies by Gordon Alexander and Sergio Luis Conte
Apr 10, 2019 8:46 AM
Sergio Luis Conte
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You are welcome. I spend my time here because I learn a lot and it helps to improve myself. My point is: a project will create a product/service or result (obviously for all of us at this time). What you stated when you wrote "purposed to implement new approaches and/or strategies that are not currently in place" that is strategy. I have being in projects like that. I mean, there is only a strategical reason taking strategy as the way the organization answer to environment in order to survive, growth and develop. Always there is a "Why?". About the level of information each people have believe me that some times I have led initiatives where nobady except the top level executives and myself know about the reason. So, in this situations, somebody could argue the initiatives is missaligned.
Apr 10, 2019 9:54 AM
Gordon Alexander
...
Hi George, as you say I would ultimately take it on if sponsorship still had a green light, the proviso being that the misalignment would be tracked through the risk register as a potential derailment of the project.

I like the "clandestine realities" way of thinking about the political side of things.
Network:1835



Apr 10, 2019 8:28 AM
Replying to George Freeman
...
Great Input!

Gordon, I like your statement that it depends on the Size, Duration, Cost and Relative Priority with the business.

It seems that most of us agree that we have some degree of tolerance to take on such a project, but that you would disclaim this and attempt to correct the problem – but that you would ultimately take it on if sponsorship still had a green light.

Sergio, I always enjoy your insights! As Anton stated, there are times when a project purposely has misaligned objectives to current or understood strategies. In Anton’s context, it is related to a sale, but I have seen it done in the political context, wherein competing interest (normally within large disparate enterprises) sanction a project that has covert ancillary goals, purposed to implement new approaches and/or strategies that are not currently in place. In this type of situation, your project might be a political pawn which could make for an interest “project ride.” I call these type of situations "clandestine realities"; they really shouldn’t happen from our purist view of project management, but it is, unfortunately, part of our project diet - at least for some.
You are welcome. I spend my time here because I learn a lot and it helps to improve myself. My point is: a project will create a product/service or result (obviously for all of us at this time). What you stated when you wrote "purposed to implement new approaches and/or strategies that are not currently in place" that is strategy. I have being in projects like that. I mean, there is only a strategical reason taking strategy as the way the organization answer to environment in order to survive, growth and develop. Always there is a "Why?". About the level of information each people have believe me that some times I have led initiatives where nobady except the top level executives and myself know about the reason. So, in this situations, somebody could argue the initiatives is missaligned.
Network:162



Apr 10, 2019 8:28 AM
Replying to George Freeman
...
Great Input!

Gordon, I like your statement that it depends on the Size, Duration, Cost and Relative Priority with the business.

It seems that most of us agree that we have some degree of tolerance to take on such a project, but that you would disclaim this and attempt to correct the problem – but that you would ultimately take it on if sponsorship still had a green light.

Sergio, I always enjoy your insights! As Anton stated, there are times when a project purposely has misaligned objectives to current or understood strategies. In Anton’s context, it is related to a sale, but I have seen it done in the political context, wherein competing interest (normally within large disparate enterprises) sanction a project that has covert ancillary goals, purposed to implement new approaches and/or strategies that are not currently in place. In this type of situation, your project might be a political pawn which could make for an interest “project ride.” I call these type of situations "clandestine realities"; they really shouldn’t happen from our purist view of project management, but it is, unfortunately, part of our project diet - at least for some.
Hi George, as you say I would ultimately take it on if sponsorship still had a green light, the proviso being that the misalignment would be tracked through the risk register as a potential derailment of the project.

I like the "clandestine realities" way of thinking about the political side of things.
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