The longer I work in this business, the more the story(s) is the same. IT develops requirements in a bubble, managers build their own fiefdoms, toolsets are deployed because they had some licenses, no requirements are formalized, the list goes on an on. This Blog is about a project I worked on last year and the experience that instilled some life lessons.

As a consultant it’s both an opportunity (Pleasure) to help but while doing so it can become frustrating. Why? Because your called in to help and when you begin asking questions, the situation becomes polarized no matter what you do. Specifically, there’s a side of the team that wants change (for better or worse) and there’s a side that does not want change (for better or worse). The result can lead to several interesting situations.

The camps that:

  • Don’t want the change and therefore do not cooperate with you and create roadblocks
  • Want change but want you to support their agenda and steer you down a path that is conducive to their agenda
  • Don’t want the change yet cooperate, is vocal and tells you why they disagree (I wish more clients ere like this)
  • Want change cooperate and help you with your assignment (Seldom happens)

I hope for the last two approaches to surface since the transparency depicts a culture of professionalism and healthy team work. If everyone agreed it would be a boring job wouldn’t it? Acceptance without rigor is incompetence?

What concerns me is the first two points since this leads you down a path of frustration and ultimately your sponsor(s) success is at risk. Where have I witnessed this sort of behavior?

  • Cultures that are pre and post merger – people are worn out from constant change, lack of support, downsizing worries and probably some unprofessional behavior
  • Cultures where the leadership hasn’t established governance – strong policy, process and education to enforce
  • Cultures where the leadership is weak – lack of direction causes staff to seek their own to accomplish and survive
  • Cultures where risk taking/stepping up is dangerous – manager with questionable character and or wants you to step up but when you do, you get a swat across the head

I’ve worked in the aforementioned cultures over the years and experienced the side effects of them. In some cases these cultures build strong teams of individuals that think alike. While in other cases people become frustrated and simply do what they can within their power to survive. Management of change is key to success, I blogged about this a few years back.

So the moral of this blog? I’m not sure there is one but I can say that healthy cultures greatly facilitate the success of projects. Keeping an ear out for your clients comments about the culture, past projects and possible nervousness will give you a hint about about the culture your dealing with.