You are on page 1of 6

Organizational Behavior

Question I Part A: Managing current PMO efforts:

The goal: John Strider, as AtekPC CIO, is assigned task of overseeing current
implementation of PMO, as a way to provide standardization, in a turbulent time for PC
manufacturers, within a company culture of informal project management.
From OB standpoint, Strider should define a clear mission for PMO, aligned with companys
values, with concrete governance plan, before any decision on light vs heavy PMO.

The reason: Throughout the case, there is clear evidence that AtekPC transitioned from a
growth to a maturing industry, similar to Microsoft discussed in [1]. We note that AtekPC
employees have clear idea what they want, yet there is less consensus on the method.
There are no clear statements regarding the mission of PMO, apart from vague terms
such as creative, adaptive and agile product launches, no ways to see how PMO relates
to overall strategy, or even measure initiatives value, undermining PMO authority,
emphasized by fact that employees see PMO as another non-value-added bureaucracy.
The priority: By setting a clear PMO mission, the immediate benefit would materialize
on current PMO plan, since there would be unambiguous consensus on what needs to be
achieved through standardization efforts, and how it connects to overall business strategy,
setting PMO as the correct system to lead change in turbulent times [4], and away from
what PMO is not supposed to be, a waste of time. From Striders point of view, doing so
also acts in his own interest, as he will be able to complement his legitimate power with
referent one, as the visionary leader in changing and difficult times [3]. Finally, with right
system and leadership, Strider will be equipped to take his initiatives company-wide,
benefiting from his lessons learned, to serve AtekPC as a whole. Yet the last benefit is a
long term and less certain one, subject to variables outside Striders control or influence.

The approach: Using tools of cooperation and change mentioned in [1], through
combination of leadership by example and charisma, Strider should strive to sell PMO as
the companys system of choice to standardize, control and reduce costs. Yet Strider
should project the PMO as complementary and integral part of business, versus an
additional workload imposed on the employees, with support of KPIs to measure
outcomes of every PMO initiative and concretely prove value of his vision, while
avoiding Rewarding A while hoping for B pitfalls, assuming KPIs are properly set*.
The justification: AtekPC is in a period of change, needing clear leadership more than
management to tread turbulent competitive landscape [4]. Baby steps approach is
unsustainable in the long run: to get everyone aboard the PMO trip, and allow Strider
room to implement his initiatives, people need to believe in the new system, and realize
that informal/personal approach of old times will not bring desired outcomes anymore,
realigning employees motivation towards PMO plans, as emphasized in motivation
model of [2]. Strider has to also sell the fact that PMO initiatives are worth putting effort
into, without having to resort to extensive and expensive coaching and trainings that fall
on deaf ears, as is currently done at AtekPC, since the mission will reliably sell itself.
Doing so, Strider will be able to create an organic culture of PMO leadership, integral to
company core values, similar to leadership example set by Richard Nicolosi at P&G [4].
To complement the PMO mission, prove value of initiatives, and eliminate impressions
that PMO is not real work (a notion probably amplified by peoples confirmation biases
[9]), KPIs will be critical tools at Striders disposal to measure financial, productivity and
soft savings, to move to the next phase of establishing credibility outside his immediate
IT surrounding*.
* Accurate KPI setting is out of scope of this discussion. Large amount of literature details the setting of KPIs,
and how improper KPIs can harm organizations and guide towards wrong goals.

Question I Part B: Managing and advising AtekPC CEO:


The goal: John Strider is in a delicate situation of growing a useful PMO that helps his
IT projects deliver, selecting between a light or heavy PMO, balancing lack of
resources with emerging PMO needs, all without violating current AtekPC culture.
His goal, similar to lessons from NUUMI [8], is convincing CEO to use current PMO
effort as a pilot project, with a learning approach under a controlled scope, as a proving
ground. The resource problem will remain, and Strider is inclined to go PMO light, but he
should convert contractors to full-time PMO employees as a mitigation measure.
The reason: AtekPC is a culture unaccustomed to disciplined processes and standards,
where they are viewed as administrative overhead and getting in the way of real work.
Strider does realize that he is trying to implement an initiative that contradicts current
culture. This is the perfect opportunity to use NUMMIs top-bottom approach to
transform current culture to fit changing and uncertain future ahead of all PC makers [8].
Strider should take advantage of limited resources as a way to promote entrepreneurial
thinking, but alleviate by enrolling the contractors as full time employees, to support
current efforts, and foster the message that PMO is taken seriously at AtekPC.
The priority: The goal to be achieved by above is in interest of PMO in the short run, by
allowing initiative to grow internally and embrace change mandated by the new direction.
Goal is also in interest of Strider and AtekPC in the long run. AtekPC is due for a reality
check, and in dire need of cultural change that affects how people do things first, then
trickle down to a cultural shift [8]. In the end, Strider will benefit as a reliable leader that
successfully navigated his organization under strenuous business conditions.

The approach: Under a defined scope, Strider is to change what people do, leading to
changes in values, and in the end a cultural shift [8]. A small and agile task force is
critical to quickly identify deficiencies in PMO, and learn crucial lessons to be
implemented company-wide afterwards. Strider needs to identify PMO initiatives that
will enable deriving superior value from his IT projects, and since AtekPC is a maturing
phase as per [1], leadership tools are needed to sell a new way of working. Additionally,
the contractors turned permanent employees will be more motivated and act as pivot
points in realizing an agile and effective PMO under such limited and controlled scope.
The justification: Shifting cultures is not easy, yet Toyota managed to do so with some
of the worst workers in American Auto Industry [8]. Strider is dealing with a changeresistant culture, with limited budget combined with lack of support from the top. None
of the three latter challenges can be overcome without real concrete success-stories,
which can be created by adopting a new mindset exemplified under Argyris Model II [10]
focus on Problem Solving, Collaboration and Trust as strategies organization can use to
induce change, experimentation and innovation. Strider should be aware that results will
not appear overnight, and persistence, planning and open learning approach are key to
grow an enduring Argyris model within the organization.
It was also mentioned in the case that standardization approaches with management
systems around the Y2K were initially successful, but later employees reverted to old
ways, out of both sheer habit and the fact that it was an added responsibility to core work.
Setting up the current PMO contractors as permanent employees will let them focus fulltime on PMO implementation, and allow Striders vision to materialize under this pilot
project, all while controlling fall-backs by maintaining the system integrity versus time.

Question II: What is future outcome for Strider, PMO and AtekPC success?
Some technology companies are able to adapt to changing landscape successfully, like
Apple and Samsung, others struggle to keep up, like Nokia and Blackberry.
Starting with Strider, as a 20 years veteran of AtekPC, preserving companys culture and
treating lightly seems to be his modus operandi. He is inclined to take smaller concrete
steps by implementing a light version of PMO, emphasized by his remarks that PMO
employees cannot write code, install servers or meet with clients. He is suspicious that
PMO will become another block to real work. If he continues down this path, however,
and does not check his beliefs versus biases (most notably confirmation in comment I
just do not have time) and group-think (as stereotyped view of PMO) [9], he will silence
both internal and external voices of reason that might identify actual value in PMO.
With Striders conservative and slow approach to change, PMO is going down a path of
failure by design. The top managers seem to be stuck in rewarding A while hoping for
B mode [5], by implementing PMO as long as it does not slow things down, sending
the wrong message to the bottom of the hierarchy that PMO is designed to be an add-on,
not an integral means of conducting business.
Finally, in terms of company itself, there are no mentions of future plans to shift culture
towards standardized PM processes; the current informal PM approach will remain.
Future lucrative projects will be larger, more complex, and involve multiple technological
areas, yet AtekPC does not seem to be equipped to tackle the challenge, or inclined to
change, thus will be marginalized by big consolidated PC players, unless they realize
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result.