Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Culture Clash

Thushara wrote an interesting question in a recent post copied below:

"When you are a flat organization and when you got to deal with a very hierarchical customer organization with lots of bureaucracy .How do you manage the communication channels as a PM of such projects? ( I mean in your company you are reporting to your CEO and all the operational level details are transparent to him. Your CEO talks direct with the customers CEO who doesn’t get any operational details.. There is a major chaos situation here.."

Not that I have "the" answer, but I do have an answer, and I learned this as a consultant more so than a PM. The problem here is really not just one of organization, but one of culture. I would imagine that the two organizations are different in size, since size generally creates hierarchies and levels.

One of the problems with trying to match up organizations is that they usually start with the matching at the top so they start with CEO to CEO. All CEOs are equal I guess. Since yours is flatter, you get to the “operational” details much sooner, and with your CEO being closer, she (he) is probably a lot more in tune with what is going on. Actually this is good for you since your boss will not be surprised – a very bad thing.

Since the other CEO is not as in tune, there are a couple of things to do. First coach your CEO of the situation; you don’t want her accidentally showing up the customer CEO. Next find the person or persons on the customer team who have about the same level of involvement, knowledge, etc of the operational details that you do and who are equally invested. Regardless of their level in the client organization, these are your peers. Work with them to build a communication plan that will keep their CEO up to speed.

Combining this, you probably need two communication plans. One plan for both CEOs and another for your CEO. That way your boss knows what information his peer is getting, and you can keep your CEO better informed so she is always a step ahead. In the mean time you and your peer or peers are getting the work done.

Generally speaking both CEOs want to know how things are going, what they can do to help, and if there is anything they should be concerned about. If you keep this information in front of both of them, then you will reduce confusion a little.

Or not, that’s just one perspective – based on communication. There are probably a lot of other aspects to look at.

1 comment:

Thushara said...

Thanks Derry for the Answer.. I have more questions for you now on this..I think this is really a bugging area for a PM who is working in a company like where I work :-(