Back From Red Blog Banner
Sunday, 05 August 2012 00:00

Poor Leadership, The Progenitor Of PMOs

Rate this item
(0 votes)

Image PMO not equal to LeadershipLet me be perfectly clear, I hate PMOs. It matters not if you call them project management offices, program management offices, or portfolio management offices, they only spell one thing—poor leadership. Now those of you that know me, have heard this enough times that your eyes are rolling back as you mumble, "Here he goes again. Who set the bait in front of him this time?" However, I have confused people with a couple of PMO articles that might seem contrary.

The Role of a PMO

 

There are as many types of PMOs are there are PMOs, maybe more. Most are trying to combat some issue with struggling projects. There are, however, a very large percentage that are implemented just because it sounds neat. "Of course, we have a PMO, don't you?" I salivate when I hear that question. This person has inadvertently stumbled upon one of my biggest pet peeves. "So, what problem was it that you were trying to solve?" Their responses and my retorts are as follows:

  1. The PMO allows us to implement a common process across all the projects. Process is about 20% of what it takes to run a project. It takes people, management, and leadership to make projects consistently successful. Process only helps since it provides the managers and executives a set of guideposts to judge a project. Using piles of process, they try to devolve projects into a checklist of activities, thinking that you can follow the steps and the project will be successful. They can ignore a project and occasionally swoop in asking for a new report. They cannot see whether the project is running efficiently or heading for ruin. Their goal is to be a one-minute manager.
  2. The PMO ensures that we are properly prioritizing our projects. Now, wait just one second. At any well-managed company, the CEO sets the direction for the company. He or she works with the executive team (other C-Suite members) to develop the strategic and tactical plans to achieve those goals. Their progressive levels of planning and maintaining close coordination of all business units develops a list of projects and their corporate priority. Only if the executives are failing at prioritizing projects or communicating these priorities do we need a PMO to do this task.
  3. The PMO removes roadblocks for the project manager. Granted, this is dearly needed support. In a properly lead company, internal roadblocks should be nonexistent (see bullet 2). Everyone should know his or her priorities with respect to one another. External roadblocks, risks, and issues, requiring "executive power" or additional resources (people, time, or money), are a reality and the PMO can be quite beneficial in addressing these. However, this is the project sponsor's job.

In so many words, the PMO is filling in for the void of leadership.

The Role of Leadership

Want to read more?

Business environments change daily making it difficult to keep initiatives aligned with the corporate goals. Without alignment the projects and initiatives fail to deliver value. Our Strategic Alignment: The Key To Project Success white paper addresses these issues and what need to be done to thwart them.

Leadership, rather than reports, solves this problem. I am aghast at the number of companies where when asked for their strategic plan the only thing delivered is a blank stare. They have the revenue to keep their inefficiencies funded and cover up their lack of leadership. You can make money with minimal leadership as long as you have a great bunch of people selling anything they can. You can only grow and prosper, however, with an executive team's vision that sets direction and inspires and empowers employees.

Image of a naval fleet

Think of it in naval terms. The executive team is comprised of captains piloting a fleet of ships on a mission; each ship having its own crucial role and piece of that mission. None can survive on their own they must work in unison. They are not guided by a group of lieutenants telling them who should be in the lead and where to steer.

Ergo, Poor Leadership

Alas, PMOs are a necessity because companies have become leader deficient. Too much emphasis has been placed on corporate politics and the resulting executive teams are incapable of creating a vision, developing the plans, and inspiring their employees to meet those goals.

PMOs should be a means to an end, not an end in themselves. They are being used to fill the leadership void instead of educating executives in the complexities for running projects with interdepartmental dependencies. PMOs can institute the discipline to ensure projects get started at the latest possible date and that key resources are properly allocated when they are needed. The added bureaucracy that most PMOs bring, however, weigh the down the organization making it a lumbering giant, when what companies desperately need is leadership.

Want To Hear More?

If you would like to hear further debate on the subject, tune into the upcoming PMTV panel where Lindsay Scott, Dr. David Fraser and yours truly will answer the question Why do PMOs Fail?. Our hosts, Jon Hyde and Bernardo Tirado, promise this will be an exciting and educational event. It will be August 7, 2012 at noon BST (GMT +1). For all the Western Hemisphere early birds that is 7:00AM EDT or 4:00AM PDT. Yes, in the morning. If I can do it, so can you. However, it will be taped for viewing at a more reasonable hour.

More in this category:
Next Post Previous post
Read 10028 times
Login to post comments

Related items

  • Balanced Scorecard for Project Teams

    Too often, project managers and their stakeholders lack the visibility into how their project's fit into the business' grand vision. Think how wonderfully your business would run if everyone from the C-suite to the feet on the street understood how to maintain focus executing business strategies.

    Balanced Scorecard for Project Managers helps your project managers and their stakeholders:

    1. Understand what is valuable for your organization.
    2. Reduce miscommunication.
    3. Focus their energies and your resources.

    Organizations the world over use balanced scorecard to define their strategic goals. However, balanced scorecard only works if its information is disseminated throughout the organization. This workshop helps PMO managers, executive sponsors, project managers, and their project teams understand why and how a strategy is defined, the use of activity and strategy maps, and how they apply to the organization's projects.

  • Selling to Big Companies
    Selling to Big Companies

    Add To Cart

    Author:Jill Konrath
    Publisher: Kaplan Publishing
    Released: December 2005
    Type: Softcover
    Pages: 272
    ISBN:978-0201835953

    This book is currently under review, more details will be added when available

    As a project manager, you are all about selling and persuasion. If you are not good at it, you better learn now. This book focuses on communicating in a way to get people to react to you.

    Setting up meetings with corporate decision makers has never been harder. It's almost impossible to get them to pick up the phone. They never return your calls. And if you do happen to catch them, they blow you off right away.

    It's time to stop making endless cold calls or waiting for the phone to ring. In today's crazy marketplace, new sales strategies are needed to penetrate these big accounts.

    Discover how to:

      Target accounts where you have the highest likelihood of success.
    • Find the names of prospects who can use your offering.
    • Create breakthrough value propositions that capture their attention.
    • Develop an effective, multi-faceted account-entry campaign.
    • Overcome obstacles and objections that derail your sale efforts.
    • Position yourself as an invaluable resource, not a product pusher.
    • Have powerful initial sales meetings that build unstoppable momentum.
    • Differentiate yourself from other sellers.

    Use these sure-fire strategies to crack into big accounts, shrink your sales cycle and close more business. Check out the Account Entry Toolkit for ideas on how to apply this process to your own unique business.

    Buy it now!

  • Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box
    Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box

    Add To Cart

    Author: Arbinger Institute
    Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers
    Released: April 2015
    Type: Softcover
    Pages: 240
    ISBN:978-0201835953

    This book is currently under review, more details will be added when available

    Leadership is an art. As a project manager you need to become a better leader. You will not find that in any single book or class. You need to learn, study and practice. It helps you develop tools to better understand the difficult situations you face daily.

    Since its original publication in 2000, Leadership and Self-Deception has become a word-of-mouth phenomenon. Its sales continue to increase year after year, and the book ’s popularity has gone global, with editions now available in over twenty languages.

    Through a story everyone can relate to about a man facing challenges on the job and in his family, the authors expose the fascinating ways that we can blind ourselves to our true motivations and unwittingly sabotage the effectiveness of our own efforts to achieve success and increase happiness.

    This new edition has been revised throughout to make the story even more compelling. And drawing on the extensive correspondence the authors have received over the years, they have added a section that outlines the many ways that readers have been using Leadership and Self-Deception to improve their lives and workplaces —areas such as team building, conflict resolution, and personal growth and development, to name a few.

    Read this extraordinary book and discover what millions already have learned —how to consistently tap into an innate ability that dramatically improves both your results and your relationships.

    Buy it now!

  • HBR's 10 Must Reads on Change Management
    HBR's 10 Must Reads on Change Management

    Add To Cart

    Author:Harvard Business Review, John P. Kotter, W. Chan Kim, Renee Mauborgne
    Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
    Released: March 2011
    Type: Softcover
    Pages: 224
    ISBN:978-0201835953

    This book is currently under review, more details will be added when available

    Projects are about change. Project managers need to drive their projects so the change is good for their clients and will stick.

    Most company's change initiatives fail. Yours don't have to.

    If you read nothing else on change management, read these 10 articles (featuring “Leading Change, ” by John P. Kotter). We've combed through hundreds of Harvard Business Review articles and selected the most important ones to help you spearhead change in your organization.

    HBR's 10 Must Reads on Change Management will inspire you to:

    • Lead change through eight critical stages
    • Establish a sense of urgency
    • Overcome addiction to the status quo
    • Mobilize commitment
    • Silence naysayers
    • Minimize the pain of change
    • Concentrate resources
    • Motivate change when business is good

    Buy it now!

  • Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't
    Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't

    Add To Cart

    Author: Jim Collins
    Publisher: HarperBusiness
    Released: October 2001
    Type: Hardcover
    Pages: 300
    ISBN:978-0201835953

    This book is currently under review, more details will be added when available

    The Challenge:

    You are running a project that is supposed to improve the organization to leap out in front of the competition, yet you have had little formal training on what that means. Project managers need lessons in how world class business runs to drive projects to make that happen.

    Built to Last, Collins' first book and defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the very beginning.

    But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness?

    The Study:

    For years, this question preyed on the mind of Jim Collins. Are there companies that defy gravity and convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? And if so, what are the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?

    The Standards:

    Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. How great? After the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by a composite index of the world's greatest companies, including Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck.

    The Comparisons:

    The research team contrasted the good-to-great companies with a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to make the leap from good to great. What was different? Why did one set of companies become truly great performers while the other set remained only good?

    Over five years, the team analyzed the histories of all twenty-eight companies in the study. After sifting through mountains of data and thousands of pages of interviews, Collins and his crew discovered the key determinants of greatness -- why some companies make the leap and others don't.

    The Findings:

    The findings of the Good to Great study will surprise many readers and shed light on virtually every area of management strategy and practice. The findings include:

    Level 5 Leaders: The research team was shocked to discover the type of leadership required to achieve greatness.

    The Hedgehog Concept: (Simplicity within the Three Circles): To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence.

    A Culture of Discipline: When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great results. Technology Accelerators: Good-to-great companies think differently about the role of technology.

    The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Those who launch radical change programs and wrenching restructurings will almost certainly fail to make the leap.

    “Some of the key concepts discerned in the study, ” comments Jim Collins, "fly in the face of our modern business culture and will, quite frankly, upset some people. ”

    Perhaps, but who can afford to ignore these findings?

    Buy it now!

Rescue The Problem Project

Internationally acclaimed

Image of RPP

For a signed and personalized copy in the US visit the our eCommerce website.

Amazon logo
Flag of the United States Buy it in Canada Flag of the United Kingdom
Flag of Ireland Flag of Germany Flag of France
Flag of Italy Flag of the PRC
Flag of Japan
Book sellers worldwide.

Upcoming Events