Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Anti-maturity; When It Just Isn't Worth the Investment

How often, really, have organizations started down the roads of project management, governance, enterprise architecture, internal controls .. you name it, they've tried it; but after the dust settles, the initiative has failed and faded like so many before it.  And now, you, lucky you, have been named to lead the next new fad.

Let's face it, a lot of organizations manage in spite of themselves to ride market forces to a place where corporate resources can absorb a lot of mistakes.  For optical purposes they may have to satisfy oversight groups, regulators, shareholders etc. by trying out some new approach, but they don't see any terminal consequences of paying nothing more than lip-service to the idea.  You, however, will join the long list of casualties.

Is there a way to tell whether an organization simply isn't interested in the types of benefits that these initiatives might create?  Kudos to Kik Piney for developing the Anti-Maturity Model.  You can read his approach (which he says isn't fully developed but you will find it pretty informative just the same). The gist of it is that you are wasting time trying to climb off Level 1 of any maturity model if the overall organizational culture is going to actively undermine most of the key elements of any process or discipline.  Immaturity suggests that you want to get better but don't quite know how; anti-maturity means you don't really want to improve.

This model might be also be helpful for many PMs in career considerations.  As you work your way up the PM ladder, the sign that you have actually arrived is that great interview where the panel emphasizes how the organization has come to really value the benefits that some aspect of PPFM can bring, and how they need someone with your experience to really bring it to life.  On the strength of an hour or two, how will you find out whether this is really the job you've been working towards for years, or the beginning of a 2 or 3 year nightmare featuring broken promises, carer threats, and endless wrangling?  You'll live through it, and be the stronger for it in the end, but how much nicer it would be for all concerned if you could determine in advance of taking the gig. Maybe a working knowledge of the symptoms of anti-maturity would help ask some penetrating questions during this same interview.

Kik doesn't get into why an organization would choose to behave that way.  It's often useful to observe the behavior and respond based on a knowledge of how an actor will behave, rather than speculating (often incorrectly) about why.  Having said that, recall that people rise to the top of an organization because their particular skills and preferences fir the way that organization works; once they rise to the top, they pass those same predispositions onward. For instance, IT organizations should in theory be run by managers with experience running IT operations; but all too often IT operations are run by people with a history of seeking to be responsive to customers  and other stakeholders by making undocumented on-the-fly changes that bring the whole system down -- and then build their "team player" credits by coming in overnight to fix the problem that they would never admit to having created.  Then, of course, they are promoted because they always got the extra mile.  Then they read a book about how great ITIL is, or maybe an external audit forces it on them. Do you really think there is any chance of success? Do you think it is a coincidence that something as inherently obvious as the precepts of ITIL has had rather limited adoption? The whole scenario is anti-maturity at work.

Enjoy the read!  

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