Structure Trouble – Part 2

If you have missed part 1 of this story, yesterday I was talking about a conversation I was observing about the best way to structure a program of work. In this conversation a number of individuals had differing views on how to best structure the teams on the program.

I discussed yesterday some of my observations on proposals for the structure itself. Which is interesting, but what makes project work really interesting is the people. The other element I was observing were the dimensions of power and control.


What was clear was a number of emotions were bubbling up. People felt threatened and even felt a little bit of distrust or under valuing of their opinion because they had in their mind already come to a decision on how they wanted to deliver the project. Then, someone else has come along and disagreed with them.

It was an interesting dynamic to observe. Their power and control was that risk. It actually ended up that the conversation had to stop because people needed to walk away, absorb and really mull over the pros and cons. Some were almost closed off from progressing because they were so adamant that they’re position was the right one and at that point in time in their mind they really felt it was.

I was however pleased to see that overall it was a very respectful and civil conversation. I have definitely seen conversations like this turn ugly before. So kudos to the quality of people on this project.

I didn’t have the pleasure of seeing how this ended up playing out later in the day but some of my tips for when you may encounter a situation like this are:

  • Be clear and concise with your rationale for why you think the proposed structure is necessary.
  • Make sure you have considered the pros and cons yourself so that you can articulate them.
  • A picture speaks 1000 words, so draw a picture to demonstrate how you think it will work and why.
  • Always come back to the reason a structure exists and the principles behind why you want that structure. The structure must enable you to effectively deliver your project and enable clear division of roles and responsibilities.

It is possible that you are sick of hearing me blather on about roles and responsibilities. But if you have read enough of my work you will know that I consider this a foundation item that is extremely important to the success of any project.

People are what will make or break your project so look after them.

Give them what they need.

  • Clarity
  • To feel valued
  • Strong relationships
  • An understanding of how they fit into the whole picture and structure of the program

Roles and responsibilities helps achieve this.

Let me know what you think below


About the Author

Louise Ledbrook loves the project world and is continually looking for ways to improve how we deliver projects to reduce cost and risk and to make it a more enjoyable and successful experience for all involved. She is the Founder of Project Community and the CEO of Pro SMART. You can follow Louise on twitter @louiseledbrook or on Linked In.


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