Culture of Success: It Started with a Stress Ball (Post #1)

The first time I heard the term “culture of success,” I was looking at a consultant who was presenting our new project management process.  In our company, each group within our  division had a different process for managing projects.  Though similar, there were enough differences where management thought it vital to have a consulting firm interview each group and create one process to rule them all!  The best thing; they gave us stress balls that said “Culture of Success,” which we really enjoyed throwing at each other for months after.

The first thing that struck me about the process was how much paperwork there was.  Every little step required a signature.  All communication was to be tracked.  There was full traceability of emails and they were to be saved.  Their definition of culture of success was all process and very little human interaction.

Fast-forward 10 years (or so) and I heard the phrase again.  This time culture of success focused primarily on team dynamics, leaving process mostly out of the equation.  There was also an emphasis on stakeholder engagement making them an integral part of the team instead of phase/gate approvers.  It was a complete 180 from the previous definition.

Since that time I’ve come to create my own definition of “Culture of Success,” which moves a project or program  from chaos to clarity through accountability and relationships.  Let me break it down a little more:

  • Chaos: a state of disorder that is always there at the start of a project, but then moves to…
  • Clarity: a clear, concise definition of “done” and any objectives for success, as well as adherence to processes to complete the work, which leads to…
  • Accountability: this is the RACI and beyond, which each person understanding & maintaining their role and committing to project success; this happens through…
  • Relationships: this is the pillar of getting things done

So to go in reverse; without Relationships there will be no trust and Accountability, which leads to a lack of Clarity and puts the project into Chaos.

From there I looked at different areas of a project where if not done correctly, doesn’t move you from chaos into clarity.  They are:

  • Begin with the end in mind
  • Stakeholder management
  • Team Dynamics
  • People vs. Process paradigm

Each of these areas will be detailed out further in future posts.

And like that, my concept of Culture of Success was born!  Oh, and the stress balls; they lasted longer than the process.  Six months after go-live the consultant-driven process was put on hold because all the approvals required overwhelmed stakeholders.  Management caved to complaints and like that, back to the norm!

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