I was driving home from work the other day and was marveling at the chaos of the afternoon commute. Its interesting that in this this type of scene there a is the significant lack of discipline displayed by drivers. This is not only related to following the law but it entails an unwillingness to extend common courtesy. What’s surprising (perhaps it should not be) is discovering oneself totally caught up in this behavior and acting like the rest of the drivers.
This got me thinking about how this situation might apply to project management. We sometimes find ourselves working in organizations where is a complete disrespect for the discipline of the profession. Even if the processes and procedures of the organizations are clear in terms of adhering to a methodology or a framework that advocates proper practice, we find it difficult to follow them because few in the organization is doing so. The chaos that exists or the speed with which we are required to move may force us to abandon what we know to be best practice and we start “driving” the project as though as there are no rules and regulations.
In circumstances where project managers and team members are acting according to what they “feel” is the speediest way to accomplish their project/work, rather than adhering to the organizational framework, the becomes at risk of maturing the practice of project management. Team members become more prone to act inconsistently and because of this lack of consistency the organization is not able to elevate its standard of practice. Lessons learned become harder to capture and, when we add the employee turnover, teams are less likely to know how to follow proper process.
I recognize that there is a need to provide project teams enough leeway and flexibility to foster innovation and creativity, however, this can not come at the expense of discipline. There has to be a right mix of discipline and flexibility in the organization to ensure success of projects, otherwise everyone will be facing what we face in afternoon traffic jams, nothing but gridlock.