The Win-Win Approach

One of the most challenging tasks that a Project Manager needs to handle in most of the projects is conflict resolution. Conflict could be defined as some form of friction, disagreement, or discord arising within a group when the opinions or actions of one of more members of the group are either resisted by or unacceptable to one or more members of another group. Differing needs are often the main cause for conflicts in projects. Such conflicts in projects if not managed properly, may lead to bitter disputes resulting in failure of contracts, loss of profit, loss of valuable resources etc. An effective Project Manager recognizes legitimacy of conflicting needs and proactively engages in examining its causes and resolves them through creative problem solving and team building.

Project Management is an organized approach in getting things done with in a limited time, cost and resources. CMThe main focus of a Project Manager shall be to deliver the project objectives in the most efficient manner by balancing the project constraints. A project shall involve several stakeholders with varying interest and expectations in the outcome of the project. An effective Project Manager is one who successfully delivers the project objectives and gain maximum mutual benefits to all the stakeholders. As the occurrence of conflicts in project are quite normal, it is very important for the Project Manager to be competent to manage these conflicts and adopt the best of the conflict resolution strategy which suits the situation.

Problem solving or Win-Win approach of conflict resolution is one of the most effective methods of conflict resolution which can be practicedWinWin by the Project Managers. This approach, also known as the confrontation, involves collaboration of the conflicting parties to reach an agreement which satisfies both the parties. This approach is most suitable for projects which involve a very important client with whom the business relation is strategic for the existence of the company. Adopting a win-win approach is by no means makes a Project Manager seem to be Mr. Nice who surrenders as soon as any conflict arises. In the case of a Win-win solution, both the parties emerge out of the conflict satisfied with agreement and may involve sacrifices and mutual gains. A Project Manager may adopt this method if the issue of conflict is absolutely critical to the success of the project and he have to invest heavily in terms of time, effort and cost.

The willingness of the conflicting parties to cooperate for a win-win solution is a key factor for the Project Manager to decide on adopting this approach. Win-win outcome for a conflict resolution could be achieved only if the issue is handled with an open mind and in a mature manner. Care should be taken to avoid any personal criticism and blame games. WinWin2All parties involved should encourage and accept out of the box ideas which could lead to a mutually beneficial solution. The commitment of the conflicting parties to implement the win-win solution, devised through their collaborative efforts, is very important for the success of the project and therefore the Project Manager should take all necessary actions to ensure the same.

The collaborative win-win approach has emerged as the most preferred and widely accepted conflict resolution technique due to the advantages it presents towards ensuring the success of the projects. Win-win solutions not only results in the growth of knowledge and respect between the stakeholders but also leads the way for innovative approaches which could enhance the productivity and produce better project outcomes. Therefore it is advisable for the Project Managers to investigate the feasibility of a win-win solution in the case of any conflict situations that arises in the project and should strive to achieve it in the most effective manner by ensuring wholehearted collaborative efforts from the respective stakeholders.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a management concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and interactions with their stakeholders. CSR is generally understood as being the way through which a company achieves a balance of economic, environmental and social imperatives while at the same time addressing the expectations of shareholders and stakeholders (Ref: UNIDO).

Corporate Social Responsibility can be seen as a form of built-in self regulating mechanism integrated in to the business model by corporate entities to monitor and ensure its active compliance with the spirit of the law, ethical standards and international norms, and sometimes further some social good beyond the interest of the company and that which is required by the law. CR1In today’s business world Corporate Social Responsibility is also seen as a path to win the trust of stakeholders which shall form the basis of a company’s sustainable growth. The community in which the company serves through its business is a key stakeholder and therefore any Corporate Social Responsibility activity which aids in supporting the community shall directly or indirectly lead to the strengthening the health of its market ecosystem.

Corporate Social Responsibility is associated with the impact of the activities of a company on the social, environmental and economical environment it operates. The necessity to demonstrate the CSR credentials of an organization is gradually emerging as an important criterion for making major business decisions.

CSR could be established by the corporate in many different ways. However in order to ensure that the CSR initiative produce the desired results, it is imperative to implement the CSR programs in a systematic manner. The CSR initiatives of a company shall be in alignment with its strategic vision and at the same time sensitive towards its business culture. The CSR concepts needs to be slowly but steadily interwoven in to the organizational policies and practices in a comprehensive manner so that the economical, social and environmental aspects are given due consideration for decision making at all levels across the organization.

Some of the most common methods of CSR implementation are CSR Value Creation, CSR Risk Management and CSR Social Contributions. CSR  Value Creation is established through promoting innovations leading to sustainable business models which shall integrate the industry in to the community. CSR through Risk Management shall include the activities which lead to the better handling of risks through policy of riskCR2 elimination and avoidance and by establishing superior monitoring and control mechanisms to ensure strict adherence to the regulations pertaining to the environment and society. The initiative by companies across the world to reduce their carbon footprint is a step in this direction. The other alternative CSR methodology practiced by the corporate are by involving themselves in philanthropic activities and sponsorship linked to the betterment of the community.

Companies who have successfully integrated the CSR principles to their business models stand to benefit in various ways as compared to the companies which are yet to implement the CSR approach. The most visible advantage of implementing the CSR for the company is the improvement in its reputation and branding. It also promotes active stakeholder engagement and stronger bonding of the company with the community. CSR initiatives implemented towards the improving the quality of life of the employees of a company shall lead to better involvement leading to increase in productivity. The benefits of CSR are intangible on most of the occasions as it normally does not equate to material benefits, but are definitely convincing and strong enough to leave a positive impact on the business, society and the environment.

If this is the Independence…

Today we are celebrating our 67th Independence Day. As an Indian I am proud of the fact that we are an Independent country and am thankful to all those brave souls who got us independence from the colonial rule. But is this really the independent India that we all wish to see? There are many things that we see around us which make it not only difficult to enjoy our Independence but also raise serious questions pertaining to the rights of the citizens of an independent country. Today we boast that we are a fast emerging economic and political power. Although this claim and the rightness of the socio-economic policies being implemented by the government in this direction are debatable, I sincerely wish that my country not only emerge as the best place to live but also set an example for the world to emulate by creating a just society through socio-economic reforms.

One of the most painful things in this Independent India is to see the country being divided in to more and more pieces in the name of forming new states. While it is justifiable to form new states for better administrative proposes, it is a pity that the root causes of demand for many of the new states are merely based on the selfish political aspirations of certain groups or individuals. IndiaApart from this physical division of the country, the other most cancerous element is the division being created in the minds of our people on the basis of religion and caste. Today most of the political parties are competing with each other for the appeasement of one religion or the other for their political gains. It can be seen from history that the policy of divide and rule was one of the most efficient methods practiced by our colonial rulers as well as the rulers of our country post-independence, to achieve their political motives and to loot our great nation. It is a shame that we are still being exploited in the same manner by creating division among us in the name of region and religion.

Another area of concern is the growing number of terrorist attacks on our nation – both within the country and along the borders. It has been proved on several occasions that most of these attacks are aided and controlled by forces operating from Pakistan. All the countries across the world who are involved in state sponsored terrorist attack on its neighbors should realize that this kind of pseudo war is one of the most cowardly acts which shall lead to their self-destruction in future. The current situation in Pakistan is a very good example of this fact. The same terrorist groups which were used by some of their political groups and state organizations in harming India are now hitting them back in a brutal manner leading to a state of anarchy and religious fanaticism. Hope that the government and armed forces of Pakistan realize this fact and sincerely join hands with India to fight against this menace of terrorism. Hope that our leaders will come out with some strong actions against these terrorists so that we can live peacefully in our country.

The so called advancement in the path of progress of our country and the growth of print and visual media has also opened the doors for a sort of Cultural Revolution across the country. Today we can see many cultural changes in our daily life and most of these changes are influenced by the life styles in western countries. India1The media activism and the trial by media is at an all-time high, thanks to the unethical and brutal competition between the television channels for increasing their TRP ratings. While this has helped to unearth many big scams and crimes, one should not ignore the human rights violation that happens while an innocent person is being tried by them on the basis of mere accusations raised against him. Any news is sensationalized to increase the viewer ratings with no consideration for the people being involved with it. An accused person is being tried by the media even before his case is taken up by the Indian Judicial system. It would have been fair if the media airs their views and stories on the basis of solid evidences and facts rather than basing it on mere accusations and cheap gossips.

The real independent India which we all would love to see is the one in which every citizen enjoys equal privileges and works together for the progress of our country. The issues mentioned above are just a few of the social maladies in addition to other important issues such as Corruption, Environmental Pollution, Destruction and over exploitation of natural resources, lack of social security schemes for the aging population etc.  which need to be addressed on priority to ensure the existence of a just and progressive independent India. Region or religion should not be a factor for any kind of discrimination and the rights of each citizen should be valued and protected.  Hope our country overcomes all these challenges in the days to come and advance rapidly not only become the most powerful nation but also the best place to live.

The Complicated Project Manager

Projects could be simple or complicated. If the Projects are complicated we could still manage to make it successful by applying the principles of Project Management. But what if the Project Manager itself is complicated? The easiest and most effective solution for saving the project in such a scenario is to change the Project Manager. But to make it possible, the management should be able to identify such Project Managers well in advance before any irreversible damage is done by them.

It is possible to identify such Project Managers by monitoring them actively and/or passively. PMC2The most prominent trait of such managers is their propensity towards micromanaging all activities associated with the project. Such managers are normally poor in planning and delegating the work among the team members, which not only affects the pace of the project but also demotivates the team and oozes out their confidence.

The y do not believe in the capabilities of team members and attempts to interfere in areas which require specialist intervention. They have a bloated ego which makes them brag about themselves and considers that they are the only ones who knows the job. Another trademark characteristic of a complicated Project Manager is the lack of clarity and visibility of the project activities within the Project Team as well as among the stakeholders. Adequate amount of transparency is not maintained by such Project Managers which devoid the project of trust and team spirit. This also affects the project quality and the documentation standards resulting in to confusion and conflicts at all stages of the project.

PMC10.2

On some occasions they dominate the team members with the power and authority of the Project Manager to such an extent that the concerned team member is forced to deliver results to meet the Project Manager’s requirements rather than the Project Specifications. Neither any consideration is given to the standard practices and procedures to be followed nor any effort is made in this direction and add value to the Project.

A complicated Project Manager never respects the Project Organization and actively involves in nepotism and organizational politics. In fact, more often than not, it can be seen that their projects do not have a stable Project Organization at any stage or phase of the project. The roles and responsibilities of the project team members are not clearly defined and their designations are based on the whims and fantasies of the Project Manager.

Project Managers of this kind normally possesses only shallow domain knowledge but tend to project themselves as the master of all trades to impress others. They will be shameless in claiming the credits for the efforts of the team and blame the team for any failures. They tweak the organizational procedures in order to meet their selfish goals and survive through their ability to manipulate. Their relationship with client depends on factors beyond professional reasons and often resorts to unethical practices while dealing with suppliers.

Complicated Project Managers thrive in organizations by misguiding the management and displaying false knowledge. They are not only harmful to the project but also to the organization. It is therefore very important for the management to ensure that necessary checks and balances are included in the Project Management processes of the organization to identify such complicated Project Managers so that necessary corrective actions could be taken for the benefit of the organization and the success of the Project. A sincere self introspection would reveal that some of the characteristics mentioned in this article are applicable to us also and earnest efforts may be required to change it at the earliest before it affects our career adversely.

Vision, Mission and Alignment

The success of an organization or an individual depends greatly on planning for the future and the actions taken to materialize the plans. In the case of Organizations it is necessary to share these plans with its members and this is normally achieved by coining suitable vision and mission statements. However mere coining of the vision and mission statements and displaying it in the premises of the organization will not alone guarantee its success. It is equally important for the management at all levels in the organization to ensure that these statements are well understood by its members and all its policies, procedures and actions are aligned with it.

The vision statements are normally written in a simple but an inspirational manner so that the members could comprehend it and contribute towards its achievement.  A vision statement defines what an organization wants to achieve over a period of time whereas the mission statement defines the present state or purpose of the organization.Vision2 The bigger the organization the more important it is to have the vision and mission conveyed to its members and ensure that measures are implemented to align them towards achieving the organization’s vision.  Vision and mission statements also play a key role in justifying the organizational changes and in change management. For an organization which is undergoing a major change, it is very vital to communicate the vision and mission to its members as it not only helps to clarify their roles in the organization but also encourage them to align themselves in the best possible manner to cope with the change and move forward.

It is very important for the top management to ensure that the organization’s missions are strategically aligned with its vision not only at the top-level but also for the missions at all levels of the organization. When the missions of an organization are strategically aligned with its vision, it provides a direction to the organization and its members.  Able leadership coupled with effective management methods are necessary to lead the organization to achieve its vision. Mission in an organization is journey it undertakes to reach its destination – which is the Vision. Each member of an organization may have their own short term and long term goals in accordance with their vision for their future. If the individual visions of the personnel occupying key influential management positions, do not align with the organization, it may have a very negative impact on the organization’s performance and this impact could be very severe if these individuals try and wangle the organization’s missions to achieve their individual goals which are unaligned with the vision of the organization. Therefore utmost care should be taken while selecting anyone for such roles and this aspect has to be given due weightage while reviewing their performance periodically.

It is important that vision and mission of the organization is embedded in its culture and is constantly communicated to its members by the Management.  Vision1Having a clear vision and mission statement would not only strengthen the organizational processes but also improve the camaraderie among the members through a shared unified sense of purpose. It is the responsibility of the management to strategically plan and implement suitable measures to ensure the alignment of the members with the Vision and Mission of the organization. When such an alignment is positive it increases the productivity of the organization and any kind of negative alignment leads to troubles and failures. Efforts should be made by the management to identify the members who are not supportive towards the achievement of the shared vision and mission and necessary corrective actions are to be taken to either realign such negative members with the organization’s vision or to de-link them from the organization so that the energy of all its positive members are not wasted.

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