PMO Driving Servant Leadership

 In Archive

Autonomy, mastery and purpose[1] … these traits are fundamental to people in an Agile organization and never more than with the transformation to digital we’re seeing today. Therefore, as an Agile Transformation begins and as the entire organization transitions from command and control management styles to servant leadership management approaches, we must look at ways to ensure success by anticipating and proactively addressing what some of the most common roadblocks might be.

Let’ s look at one area of the organization that often feels threatened by this new approach – the Program Management Office (PMO) whose traditional approaches are very directive and controlling in nature. Often the organization depends on the PMO to, “drive results and execute regarding delivery” as it manages projects and programs. The very language is indicative of the PMOs command and control management style.

The Problem

Where does the PMO land in the newly transformed organization and how do the PMO members add value and contribute to the organization?

Contemplate how someone in a PMO would feel if they were told that their company was about to embark on an Agile Transformation. In that new company there is no defined role for the PMO or its members. Understandably, there would be quite a bit of resistance to the change management process by the PMO members.

So if we can just head off that problem, then much of the fear and vulnerability of an Agile Transformation dissipates. If the purpose for the PMO becomes more strategic in nature the danger becomes an attractor not an endangerment. Remember PMOs are a collection of talented people, knowledge workers who need autonomy, mastery and purpose in their professional lives.

The Solution

In the past we experienced this with the development teams and our honest input was that they were moving up the value chain by working more closely with product owners and end users directly contributing to the user story creation. That resonated and created that sense of purpose. We need to extend this “value appreciation” to the PMO.

The PMO needs to recognize it has to be more supportive and less directive in its purpose. The great analytic skills the PMO organization has need to be redirected; away from measuring things such as utilization rates and instead toward defining tests and measuring results that verify company strategies.

Similar to development teams, the PMO is thus moving up the value chain. The development teams become tactically involved with the purpose of the product development activities they perform. The PMO becomes strategically involved with the business helping to test the various assumptions related to the portfolio of offerings on the company roadmap.

Want the details? In my next post I will discuss the specifics of what, “PMO becomes strategically involved with the business” means, you can read it here.

Image Credits: Tim Bertheau

The Agile for Survival post describes some of the organizational requirements.

[1] Daniel H. Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Riverhead Books, New York, 2009.

– Tim Bertheau


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