Success Criteria # 2 - Talking about Behaviour

Criteria # 1 was about risk management.  We all do risk management to some degree.  Let's face it, that is the only reason a project starts.  How many projects have you started because you didn't want to change something that was likely to happen in the future?  None I suggest.

Whether you use risk management explicitly or not, future risks (or opportunities)  are likely to be the very reason why you are embarking upon any change.  You are doing risk management, well in part anyway, even if not all of it.

But even if you were to establish some stronger risk management standards, what gets in the way of organisations who have risk management but still fail to successfully change the way they operate is culture.

Consider how many policies, processes, standards etc your organisation has or doesn't have.  Which ones get used, how often and how?  This is defined by culture.  Most organisations today have a defined risk management standard or policy.  Corporate governance dictates it.  Yet the difference between those that use it and use it well and those who don't depends on culture. 

Sometimes risks are managed, but some risks are not spoken about.  That is defined by culture.  Sometimes there are areas of sensitivity to management or to corporate history that some in the company cannot face or face constructively.  This is culture.   Sometimes valid risks are escalated by a team to management but ignored or rejected and not dealt with.  This is culture.  Sometimes risk management is seen as not relevant or important because operational priorities are the only things that get interest and traction.  That is culture.

What every successful team realises though, is that whatever the culture of the organisation, they must stand up for what they need to do to be successful.  They must create their own culture, as a variation to the organisation at large.  In other words they must lead.  They must lead the change.  And the bigger the change, the bigger the leadership must be.

A colleague has a saying that "an organisation always gets the project they deserve".  To some degree that is true because a project is a part of an organisation, and organisational behaviour is defined by culture.  But there are exceptions to that rule, and those exceptions are when the team exhibits great leadership and redefines the culture that they operate to, and shows the organisation how to do that well.  Of course it may be a short period of time, but that can be enough to successfully implement its outcomes.

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