Two Factors That Influence Project Governance


What organizational factors impact the governance structure of a project team? I was faced with this question today, which prompted some reflection.

I’m limiting this discussion of governance to project-based work, not corporate governance in the broadest sense. That’s just too much to tackle in a blog post.

First, some definitions:

Governance–noun–The action or manner of governing

Governing–verb [ with obj. ]–conduct the policy, actions, and affairs of (a state, organization, or people)

Source of Truth: Oxford American Dictionary

So here’s where I’ve landed for today: governance is shaped by a number of cultural factors: trust, autonomy, accountability, transparency, stakeholder interests, politics, and values about power and speed-to-results.

When you boil all of these cultural factors down, there are two primary factors that influence project governance: Decision making authority and stakeholder engagement. These factors are driven by questions of who will be impacted by the project? Who will be informed about the project? Consulted for the project? Responsible? Accountable? Who will have strategic oversight and/or day-to-day tactical responsibilities? And, ultimately, how wide and deep do project leaders have to go to get information to inform decisions and/or to make decisions that drive results? Needless to say, the wider and deeper that a leader has to go into the organization to seek input and/or approval, the longer it will take to produce results. The benefit of this, however, is broader input and diversity of thought.

The figure below illustrates how varying levels of decision making authority and stakeholder engagement impact the model of governance that will shape a project team’s results (for better or worse). Do these resonate? Which models have you worked in? How have these models of governance impacted the results of your project teams?

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