Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Busting the Myth of 'It's different here'

Companies, Projects, are they really any different from one country to another? I say NO! and having recently returned from foreign shores I thought it might be time to bust the myth that exists with ‘but it’s different here’.

Let’s go on a small journey and take a look at you, the company.

You have:

  • A structure – depending on your size there may be a Board, some Directors, a Chief, some bosses and a bunch of worker bees.
  • A strategy – you know where you’re going, how you’re going to get there over the next however many months or years, what you’ll make/do/provide along the way, where you’ll sell it and how much you’ll earn from it. You might even buy someone else or sell yourself at some stage.
  • A workforce – again your size will determine your need for worker bees. If you have some you’ll have a raft of HR related things to support; salaries to pay, holidays to give, and gifts and bonuses for those who achieve targets or greatness through hard work.
  • A plan of work – with work to do you’ll have processes to support your product or service, whether you promote, buy, sell, make or deliver.
  • A culture – the way you work. The behaviours exhibited that makes your company a GREAT place to work; respected in the market by customers and competitors alike. This is what irritates your competitors, makes your customers love you and people desperate to work for you.
You’re also busy doing every day business as usual tasks that are all standard business practice; market analysis, risk assessment and control, promotion, staff training and development, improvements, upgrades, hiring/firing, investment, expansion, mergers, acquisitions, sales, and R&D to name a few.

One thing you find really useful is to setup projects so you can handle change to business as usual in bite sized chunks. Projects are an accepted way of bringing structure, formality and control to something that is:

  • Business critical or at least big enough to require formalisation and control
  • Going to cost money
  • Dependent on informed decision making
  • Going to take time, which can’t be wasted as time = money
All projects have issues, risks, schedules, budgets, people, resources, controls, reporting, milestones, deliverables; that’s why project management exists and project management is a process. So when you break it down an entity called a project is structured the same regardless of where you are in the world.

On my far away project colleagues would cry in moments of frustration “Well that’s (co. name) for you!” to which I felt compelled to respond with “Sorry that’s not actually true. It’s the same everywhere and I mean everywhere!” The thing that frustrated them so much was not unique to their company. It’s the same thing that happens everywhere – the words didn’t match the actions and values were being compromised.

Back to our myth; it’s not different ‘here’, it’s actually the same shit in a different country. Even with a different wrapping and different people involved who may or may not speak the same language or have the same cultural beliefs, it doesn’t matter. All those differences create are new challenges and a learning curve that your processes will handle.

So while you Mr/Mrs/Ms Company may offer something unique to the market, you and your projects are I’m afraid, not unique. You have the same issues, processes, and challenges just like everyone else. Deal with them, celebrate resolving them and move on to the next pile. Go be a great company where people want to work. They believe in you because what you say matches what you do.

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