We often talk about life in blacks and whites, but life is lived in grays. Take the opposites “rigid” and “flexible”. The most rigid, unforgiving thing I can think of is concrete, and now there is “bendable concrete”*! Project leaders trying to enforce The Plan may see a black and white choice between order and chaos. What’s really needed is an agile shade of gray.
Balancing project structure and flexibility is a fine art. Too little structure gives us the Wild West, unmet commitments, and a team limited to what can be achieved by the fittest survivor. Too much structure smothers the initiative needed to overcome the unknowns limiting The Plan at the start of any project. Everyone knows this, but getting the right balance is so difficult that most of the time most projects find themselves some distance from the sweet spot.
An organization’s projects are more successful when they
Of course, an organization is more than the sum of its projects. Keeping multiple perspectives, like structure and flexibility, acquires new dimensions at the enterprise level. This will be the topic of our next post.