Copyright © 2010 Introduction to Project Essay

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Secondly, she must realize that this integration role takes the form of information manager. Specifically, the project manager performs the lateral-relations task. This means that the successful project manager recognizes who needs what information and creates mechanisms to assure that the right people get that information. In this capacity, the project manager is responsible for communication flow both vertically and horizontally.

Finally, Naomi needs to understand that, at least to some degree, she lives within a matrix. She must see that the diverse members of her team are responsible not only to her, but to functional managers whose objectives and priorities might directly contradict her own. Being effective as a project manager in this type of environment requires significant interpersonal skills.

Let's look at an example from Naomi's list: team members were too busy with their functional priorities to attend project team meetings. What if Naomi had understood the need for information management between her team members and their functional supervisors? It is possible that if her team members understood the importance of the project, they might have selected her priorities over those of their functional teams. It is also possible that if their supervisors understood the importance of Naomi's projects, they might have been willing to excuse team members from their functional duties. And finally, if Naomi had felt more confident about her skills in exercising influence and resolving conflict, she could have met with the relevant functional managers and tried to find a compromise that would have enabled her team members to attend her meetings.

The first step to being an effective project manager is seeing project management through our three frames. Naomi now better understands her role in the context of the first frame, organizational design. She is beginning to get the idea that there is much more to this role than she thought.

Think about how the lessons Naomi learned apply to your organization. Can you see these forces at play in your own project and functional teams?

Module 4 Discussion

Difference in Your Organization

Looking back at your course project, consider the skills you used to analyze and make recommendations about the team in the case study. How can you take those skills and apply them in your organization? How will you approach your own work differently as a result of having taken this course?

Share with your colleagues some of the recommendations you made in your course project. As you look at the postings of your colleagues, are there any recommendations that surprised you, or that you thought to be especially insightful?

The most important skills I learned are the ability to recognize the reasons why identical sets of situations and circumstances can be perceived so differently by multiple individuals. I recognize that in some situations the MBTI factors are important but in my particular situation working with Afghan Nationals, the Hofstede analysis is much more important.

Leah said:

This course has really opened my eyes to how cultural differences can play such a huge part in a team's dynamic. I work with many different cultures in my role, and although I've recognized that I sometimes needed to communicate with them in slightly different ways, I had not appreciated how alien some of my '"British" cultural tendencies may seem to them!

I agree with that completely. In the Middle East in general, and in Afghanistan in particular, gestures and postures that are perfectly benign in the West can transmit very definite signals of respect or of the lack of respect for others. Looking back at some of our team interactions within mixed groups as well as between groups of Americans and groups of Afghanis, I can understand in retrospect why some of our exchanges may have failed to elicit the response we had anticipated and hoped for. In fact, there was nothing wrong or missing from the verbal content of our communications. However, I can understand from the Afghani perspective how certain seemingly innocuous mannerisms and choices about who addressed whom first or in what order may have set the wrong tone for the exchange before any substantive ideas were even expressed at all. Looking back on it, we may have sabotaged some of our collaborative effort entirely unnecessarily by failing to put in the necessary effort to understand the way that our mannerisms might be interpreted from an alternate cultural perspective.

Moving forward with the information from this course, I would change the way that our team prepares for communications with individuals from other cultures by spending more time trying to understand their likely patterns of responses according to the concepts articulated by Hofstede. With respect to the MBTI profile information, I would make use of those characterizations internally, especially when it comes to delegating specific responsibilities to particular individuals and also for the purposes of pairing up individuals. In some cases, it will be advantageous to select team members for certain projects where all of them are strongest in specific areas. In other situations, it will be more beneficial to create teams that are composed of individual with complementary styles and strengths instead of identical styles. In either case, the important thing is to recognize the nature of those differences and the positive and negative implications they represent with respect to enabling the team achieve its objectives in a unified and mutually supportive manner.

Conflict Resolution -- Module 2 Discussion

Discussing Your TKI

Reply

Share with your colleagues your thoughts about a time when you used one of the conflict-handling modes successfully. What about the nature of the conflict made your choice of mode appropriate to its resolution? Was there a situation where you used a conflict-handling mode unsuccessfully? If you had the opportunity to go back and address the conflict again, what mode would you use now? Why?

Are there any conflict-handling modes that you overuse? What can you do to stop overusing that mode?

For this required discussion, please respond to the initial post and the posting of at least one other student.

Module 3 Assessment

Part 1

We recently experienced problems implementing necessary operational changes in petroleum engineering issues that, in retrospect, were obviously caused by our failure to recognize the personal issues and dynamics relating to cultural expectations more than to the technical issues involved. The Afghani team with whom we were working consisted of Khan, the President of the organization, Hamid, the Translator, and Laftala, the Operations Manager.

In this particular conflict, our U.S. team had determined that there were several serious problems in the operational solutions proposed by the Afghani team. We put almost all of our efforts into the technical explanation and we prepared to explain to the Afghani team why their proposed operations plan could not possibly work. It was clear from the internal communications and from the various drafts of the proposal that Laftala, the Afghani Operations manager actually understood the issues much better than Hamid, the President. During our meeting, we explained very clearly all the technical points that supported the position that had previously been advanced internally by Laftala that were subsequently overridden by Kahn. From our perspective, we expected that once Hamid understood the technical analysis, we would easily get his authorization and cooperation to proceed appropriately with the project.

Instead, Kahn became extremely difficult and ended up in a very heated argument with Laftala that we could not understand because it was entirely in Persian. It ended with Kahn angrily lecturing Laftala and gesturing for him to leave the room. We then spent a considerable amount of time negotiating everything point by point with Kahn through the translator until we finally secured Khan's authorization and consent to proceed. Ultimately, he authorized the exact operational plan that he had previously rejected from Laftala.

Later, we were debriefed by Hamid, the Translator. According to him, it was a tremendous insult to point out Kahn's mistake in front of Laftala. It did not matter who was right or why; the fact that Kahn, the superior was told that Laftala, his subordinate, was right all along deprived Kahn of any way to save face. According to Hamid, it would have been bad enough already for us to tell Kahn that Laftala had been right, even privately. We should have figured out some way to allow Kahn to maintain the appearance of having understood the issues on his own and better than Laftala. However, our worst mistake was to announce to Kahn that he was wrong and that Laftala had been right all along in front of Laftala. Hamid said that he actually changed as much of our wording as possible in his translation but both he and Laftala knew immediately that we had stumbled onto a hornets' nest the instant we supported Laftala's analysis over Kahn's.

In retrospect, we should have briefed Kahn privately to respect the importance of saving face in his culture. Even then,…[continue]

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