Project Management

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Topics: Leadership, Talent Management, Teams
Self-managed teams and Project Management
What role, in your opinion, is reserved for Project Managers if companies choose self-managing teams?
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It's a provocative question - clearly intentional - but the role of project managers will be secure forever, I submit. Firstly, the most effective teams have always had at least components of self-management in them. Even in hierarchical organizations like the military, with a nominally command and control structure, the wise officer builds self-confidence in his/her subordinates, delegating responsibility (with guidelines, for sure), such that they may act capably even in the absence of the senior officer.

But even in a non-hierarchical organization, with matrixed reporting and a commitment to self-managing teams, the principles and practices of project management must be followed to insure effective planning, execution, and outcomes, regardless of who fills which roles. It's unlikely that everyone in an organization will become trained/certified in project management best-practices, so I suggest that the best-performing self-managing teams will choose to include one or more project managers in their midst, and to let the team be guided by these individuals and their skills.
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1 reply by Luis Branco
Jan 30, 2020 1:05 PM
Luis Branco
...
Dear Scott
Thank you for participating in this reflection and for your opinion

My intention, when I asked this question, was to know the opinion of my peers in relation to this topic

Holocracy starts to be a current topic
Many organizations are teal

What will be the role of Project Managers in these organizations?
At least PM can be a team member!
...
1 reply by Luis Branco
Jan 30, 2020 1:06 PM
Luis Branco
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Dear Abolfazl
Thank you for participating in this reflection and for your opinion

Does the designation Project Manager remain?
I agree with Scott. Project managers are normally not the functional manager of their project team, and even when we are, we're wearing different hats. Project managers are not there to be subject matter experts, inspect time cards or approve vacation requests, we're there to ensure the project objectives are achieved.
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1 reply by Luis Branco
Jan 30, 2020 1:10 PM
Luis Branco
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Dear Scott
Thank you for participating in this reflection and for your opinion

Interesting what you wrote: "Project managers are not there to be subject matter experts, inspect time cards or approve vacation requests, we're there to ensure the project objectives are achieved"

And when do self-managing teams ensure that goals are achieved?
While some PM activities might get downloaded to the team as a whole, things like financial management, risk management, stakeholder engagement and orchestrating the work between different well-managed teams would still be done by a PM.
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1 reply by Luis Branco
Jan 30, 2020 1:18 PM
Luis Branco
...
Dear Kiron
Thank you for participating in this reflection and for your opinion

Interesting what you wrote: "Things like financial management, risk management, stakeholder engagement and orchestrating the work between different well-managed teams would still be done by a PM."
What prevents self-managing teams from carrying out what you described as the role of the Project Manager?
Is that what happens on Spotify?
Well said, Scott, and great comment by Kiron.
Any team has different roles and skills and of of them is leading the team and interfacing into the organizational governance beyond the product.
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1 reply by Luis Branco
Jan 31, 2020 5:12 AM
Luis Branco
...
Dear Thomas
Thank you for participating in this reflection and for your opinion

You wrote: "Any team has different roles and skills and of them are leading the team and interfacing into the organizational governance beyond the product"

What prevents self-managed teams from being able to interface with organizational governance beyond the product?
If I'm not mistaken, the project manager role used to be part of the manager role. At least, in some companies. If your company merged it into a team role, or spread it across a team, your job would be gone (you might be given a new job) but the job functions of a project manager would, for the most part, still need to be performed. If the company grows, it is likely that the project manager function would evolve, again, as people struggle with high levels of multitasking needed to perform multiple functions across a growing workload.
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1 reply by Luis Branco
Jan 31, 2020 5:15 AM
Luis Branco
...
Dear Aaron
Thank you for participating in this reflection and for your opinion

What, in your opinion, is the likely evolution of the role of the project manager in organizations where teams are self-managed?
Jan 30, 2020 7:53 AM
Replying to Scott Smith
...
It's a provocative question - clearly intentional - but the role of project managers will be secure forever, I submit. Firstly, the most effective teams have always had at least components of self-management in them. Even in hierarchical organizations like the military, with a nominally command and control structure, the wise officer builds self-confidence in his/her subordinates, delegating responsibility (with guidelines, for sure), such that they may act capably even in the absence of the senior officer.

But even in a non-hierarchical organization, with matrixed reporting and a commitment to self-managing teams, the principles and practices of project management must be followed to insure effective planning, execution, and outcomes, regardless of who fills which roles. It's unlikely that everyone in an organization will become trained/certified in project management best-practices, so I suggest that the best-performing self-managing teams will choose to include one or more project managers in their midst, and to let the team be guided by these individuals and their skills.
Dear Scott
Thank you for participating in this reflection and for your opinion

My intention, when I asked this question, was to know the opinion of my peers in relation to this topic

Holocracy starts to be a current topic
Many organizations are teal

What will be the role of Project Managers in these organizations?
Jan 30, 2020 8:35 AM
Replying to Abolfazl Yousefi Darestani
...
At least PM can be a team member!
Dear Abolfazl
Thank you for participating in this reflection and for your opinion

Does the designation Project Manager remain?
Jan 30, 2020 8:39 AM
Replying to Wade Harshman
...
I agree with Scott. Project managers are normally not the functional manager of their project team, and even when we are, we're wearing different hats. Project managers are not there to be subject matter experts, inspect time cards or approve vacation requests, we're there to ensure the project objectives are achieved.
Dear Scott
Thank you for participating in this reflection and for your opinion

Interesting what you wrote: "Project managers are not there to be subject matter experts, inspect time cards or approve vacation requests, we're there to ensure the project objectives are achieved"

And when do self-managing teams ensure that goals are achieved?
Jan 30, 2020 8:42 AM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
...
While some PM activities might get downloaded to the team as a whole, things like financial management, risk management, stakeholder engagement and orchestrating the work between different well-managed teams would still be done by a PM.
Dear Kiron
Thank you for participating in this reflection and for your opinion

Interesting what you wrote: "Things like financial management, risk management, stakeholder engagement and orchestrating the work between different well-managed teams would still be done by a PM."
What prevents self-managing teams from carrying out what you described as the role of the Project Manager?
Is that what happens on Spotify?
...
1 reply by Kiron Bondale
Jan 30, 2020 9:37 PM
Kiron Bondale
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I think Spotify is a very special case of a company which was formed in a manner conducive to self-management from the beginning and was able to maintain that as they grew. I'd suggest that product development companies built in this manner from the ground up might not require dedicated PM roles but this is rarely the case in most other contexts.
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